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The Boomer Bulletin - 2011
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Don't Let "D" Clients Determine Firm Direction

Posted By Eric Hunt, Monday, September 19, 2011
We all have those great clients that we love to work with.  They are forward thinking, pay their bills on time, refer work to us, and are typically fun to work with!  These are the types of clients every firm says they strive to find and keep on their books.  Just as we have our ideal clients, we also have what I refer to as "D” clients.  They are just the opposite of ideal.  They tend to haggle on price, expect more than what they paying for, don’t refer work, and typically can’t be pleased.  The scary part is that many firms build strategies around these clients and their issues.  A big complaint or suggestion from a "D” and all of sudden firms are changing course to suit the needs of this client.  The rationale is that if they can address this and make a change, maybe that firm can become an ideal client.  This just simply isn’t the case!  What can a firm do to prevent the worst clients from driving direction of the firm in any manner?

Develop a client filtering plan

Simply put, the easiest way to keep "D” clients from influencing the firm is to filter them out of your business.  This isn’t just picking up the phone and firing clients that you don’t like.  There has to be a process and plan behind your actions.  Build a plan that defines an ideal client, determines filtering criteria, and creates a process for moving forward with the removal of problem clients.  Once a plan is in place, it is much easier to provide direction to your team. Need help creating a client filtering plan? Contact us and we will send you our Guide to Client Filtering.

Stick to your strategic plan!

As important as the client filtering plan is, it won’t matter if you don’t have a firm strategic plan.  This is the foundation for everything your firm is doing and what it stands for.  Without a strategic plan in place, it will be very difficult to build the filtering plan and follow through with it.  If the plan is in place or you need to build one, make sure that you stick to it.  If changes need to be made throughout the year, make them based on a solid reason.  Don’t allow the issues of a handful of clients to undermine the importance of a strong foundation.  This prevents the firm from going down bunny trails that lead to frustration and extra work.  Interested in creating a strategic plan for your firm? Contact us and we will send you our Guide to Strategic Planning.

Train your team on the definition of an ideal client and the filtering process.

Training your team on what an ideal client looks like early on will provide them with the knowledge to filter them before they become problem clients.  Firms with strong rainmakers are very adept at this.  They have the ability to find companies that fit the model.  Help your staff by utilizing the client filtering plan in their ongoing training.  Train them to understand how to look for clients that may cause future issues.  If they complain or fight price early on, chances are they will do it throughout their client life with your firm.  Training will also give your staff the confidence to say no to poor clients or to begin the process of eliminating them altogether.  It will be difficult for the "D” clients to influence direction if your entire staff has been equipped with the ability to identify and deal with them.


Every firm has at least one horror story about how a client created problems in some form or another.  If they are honest, most firms will also tell you about how a "D” client or two have made them make unnecessary or bad decisions in efforts to fix the issues.  This will typically results in frustration and lost efficiency.  Keep focused on your best or "A” clients and minimize or eliminate the "D” clients.  Your staff will be happier, the firm will be more profitable and your best clients will see improved service because you will have more time for them.  

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