Small Firms Saving Lobbying Budgets

The Hill reports trend for smaller lobbying firms

When it comes to lobbying firms in Washington, D.C. a recent article in The Hill reports that an increasing trend is occurring where highly effective strategists are leaving large firms to open small, lower overhead lobbying firms. These ’boutique’ lobbyists enable companies and organizations to make the most of their government relations budgets in an economy that grows tighter and tighter everyday.

Tremendous savings come from zero I.T. budgets, no receptionists, no high rent, minimal staffing, fewer frills, and generally minimal overhead. These savings are reflected in reduced fees to their customers.

Who Gobbled My Firm?

According to The Hill article: “The new ventures are a response, in part, to the trend of multinational companies snatching up and combining lobby firms. Lobbyists said that when a multinational steps in and buys a firm or merges it with another, new performance quotas often have to be met… Some of the best-known lobbying brands in Washington are under multinationals’ ownership.

More Results Oriented

“Just because they are paying a fraction of the cost of a big firm does not mean they are getting a fraction of our attention.”

Since a larger client would account for a larger percentage of the small firms gross revenue, each client is more important for the smaller lobbying firm to keep happy. Happy clients come from results. Smaller firms excel when the focus is on results for a few clients, instead of spreading their efforts across scores of clients, that may each only represent a tiny fraction of a larger firms billings.

More Hats, Less Waste

Smaller firms mean that every employee, sometimes the ONLY employee, has to wear more hats. Everything from I.T. to accounting to furniture assembly to lobbying has to be accomplished by a few individuals, and each task must be accomplished well.

Other changes when moving from a large firm to a smaller firm include the loss of expense accounts, drivers and limos, and lavish meal meetings. But do these things make for better lobbying or just for larger billings?

Agile, Responsive, Accountable

Smaller lobbying firms, because of their size are more able to cut through internal bureaucracies much more quickly and change gears to meet new demands, needs and changes in the legislative and political arena. Election years, changes in political climates, and even social media technology, make it critical to be able to respond to changes in hours, not weeks or months. Smaller firms don’t require multiple meetings to talk about the agenda for the next meeting, they just tackle the problem at hand. Their size also ensures that everyone on staff is aware of each of their client’s issues and needs on a daily basis. This responsiveness means less billing for communications among the lobbying firms employees and more focus on addressing the issue, quickly, effectively and affordably. Accountability is easy when your liaison is the owner of the company.

“When it’s your name on the door, and your reputation on the line, you make sure your clients get what they need out of the relationship.” said Tim Cansler, founder and chief strategist for Cansler Consulting, a smaller Washington lobbying firm. “Today, with the economy the way it is, companies want to get the best value for their investments. They are seeing more and more value in personalized, focused government relationship management.”

Fitting Needs, Not Staffing

Smaller firms are also in a better position to provide more personalized service for their clients. Instead of using cookie cutter solutions to every customer’s needs that fit a large firm’s staffing and skills sets, smaller lobbying firms can custom tailor solutions and bring in subject matter specialists as needed, without paying them an annual salary. “Companies appreciate the fact they have the owner of their lobbying firm’s whole attention and that they are not just one of a dozen clients he is juggling.” said Cansler. “Just because they are paying a fraction of the cost of a big firm does not mean they are getting a fraction of our attention.”

Cansler Consulting is an experienced lobbying firm in Food and Drug safety, budgeting, agriculture, rural healthcare, and energy policies and through our Congressional relationships we can help you influence the policy makers on Capitol Hill. You can contact us at or at (202) 220-3150.

Tim Cansler