The Practitioner: Don’t rate some clients…

OK. SO THAT’S IT. The deadline has passed. The hard work is over.

It’s now time to do the things on your list that you have kept putting off until after January. That time is now.

Since the middle of November I have used the ‘it’s a busy time of year for us’ as an excuse to not do lots of things;

1. Not make appointments with companies trying to sell me things.
2. Not sitting down and looking at the staffing levels across the offices.
3. Not put together a client rating chart.

It is now midday on 1 February and so far I have had two phone calls from sales reps who said I told them to call back in January. I told them to call back mid-February. I’m just too nice to say, ‘don’t bother calling me again please because we don’t want/can’t afford your service.’

One thing I will definitely get round to doing (and finishing!) in February is a client rating system.

The idea for this came from a mentor of mine who is a retired partner of a mid-size firm. He told me about how, as chief executive, he commissioned a total review of the clients, and rated them all on the following three criteria:


On a scale of 1-10:

1. Are they nice people?
2. Do they pay on time?
3. Is the firm’s recovery rate acceptable?

He told me how he asked the relevant managers to answer the questions as best they could, leaving blank any answers they weren’t sure of. He then held a meeting of all the managers and together they filled in the blanks and sense-checked some of the results to ensure the marking was consistent firm wide.

Having collated all the results into a ‘league table’ format they then began working on the results.


They split the league table into three parts;

1. The ‘cream’ client.
2. Mid-table clients who had potential to do better.
3. Clients who needed to be ‘chopped’.


The first thing they did was to get the axe out and get rid of the deadwood clients.

Gulp. This isn’t going to be an easy thing to do, but I certainly can’t wait to get the axe out on a few clients we have…

The Practitioner’s uncensored thoughts come from the coalface of a regional firm in the heart of England

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