If you decide to part ways with your contract lobbyist, there are some things you should do to make the change most positive for all concerned.
My focus here is not on replacing lobbyists who are “not working out,” but on the decision not to continue to have a lobbyist in a state. The reasons you make that decision are myriad. For example, if your lobbyist was focused on supporting your manufacturing facility in a state and you sold that facility–well, then–the lobbyist goes too. If you passed the bill you hired the lobbyist to pass–two years ago–you may decide it is OK to go unrepresented in that state. Another possibility is that your budget was slashed to the bone and you had to make painful decisions. As I said, there are plenty of possibilities.
So, you made the decision to end the relationship. I expect you know how to make that phone call and say good things, but have you thought about a thorough exit interview? Candidly, I had not, but Ron Barnes, Vice President of State Government Relations for the Direct Marketing Association and a Stateside client, told me recently that he does exit interviews with lobbyists and I thought that was a fantastic idea and wanted to share. Hence this blog.
Here are my recommended questions for an exit interview. What do you have to add to this list? Email your suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- What do you know now that you wished you had known when we started working together?
- Did I give you the tools you needed (Information, Messages, Grassroots/Grasstops)?
- How well did we (client) handle administrative responsibilities, i.e. payments, lobbyist registration?
- Was our level of campaign involvement high enough, too low or just right?
- If situations change, would you be willing to work for us again?
- Do you foresee any land mines out there for my company/association in the coming year?
- In what areas do you think you could improve?
- What would you recommend I do to improve as a client?