Increase Profits by Eliminating the “Dirty Dozen.”

For the last ten years, I’ve been pushing clients to apply a discipline that is scary to most – and rightfully so. I now have enough clients doing it that I’m comfortable sharing it, as it’s no longer simply theory. The discipline is listing all of your clients from the most profitable to the least, and then cleaning up the bottom 10 percent.

One client that fully embraced this discipline calls it the “The Dirty Dozen.” Every quarter, they look at their “Dirty Dozen” and make improvements. Not coincidentally, after four years of applying this discipline, they sold the company for many multiples. The key reason for its value was its unusually high profitability compared to competitors.

Just imagine, for a moment, replacing all of your existing low-profit or non-profitable clients with the same number of profitable clients. As a result, your revenue would potentially stay the same, but your profits would increase. All else being the same, you would increase profitability while keeping capacity the same. Once this basic concept is clear in your mind, it should help you make some great fundamental business decisions.

Here’s how it works: List all of your clients/customers from the most profitable to the least profitable, take the bottom 10 percent, and clean them up by doing one of the following three actions with each:

1. Raise fees

2. Fire them

3. Have a heart-to-heart to

o get them to play nice

o and/or become lower maintenance

Just do one. While it is always the scariest doing the first one, it feels great. If you fire one, make sure to replace them with a profitable one. Remember, you don’t need them all.

Related Posts

Revisiting the Rocket Fuel™ Toolkit

Have you ever looked at old photos and realized how much you’ve changed? The same is true of your business. Looking back over an old Vision/Traction Organizer® (V/TO) may make you realize you’re not the same company anymore.

Read on »

Prune the Leadership Team to Encourage Future Growth

When a business grows rapidly, it can look like a wild, overgrown shrub. The plant wastes energy trying to care for these wayward limbs. Likewise, business owners must look for “branches” diverting attention and energy from their vision. Sometimes, they need to prune the leadership team to encourage future growth.

Read on »

Subscribe to the EOS Blog

Subscribe to the EOS Blog:


Base Camp


Client Portal



Search the EOS Worldwide Blog

Skip to content