First, clients "must be homogeneous"; advice must be "strategic" and "consistent," and whatever he does must be "scalable" in that it should be applicable for all his clients.
"I am not at all interested in doing something for a client. I am interested in doing something for 1,000 clients," he said. "If I can't do it a thousand times I'm not going to do it at all."
Put all those requirements and philosophies together and it adds up to a firm that is 17,000 clients strong and manages $8 billion for clients, some of whom start with as little as $5,000 as an initial investment.
Edelman Financial Services was ranked first among advisory firms in Virginia by Barron's.
The firm's leader, then, carried some cachet with attendees at the first day of the Inside ETFs Conference presented by Index Universe. 2013 marks the 20th anniversary of the exchange-traded fund, which now occupies a huge footprint in the market with $1.4 trillion in assets under management and average daily trading volume in excess of $54 billion.
(Read More: ETFs Turn 20: So Where Do We Go From Here?)
"Can you tell me who your clients are? I can tell you who my clients are in a single word. Can you do that?" he asked. "The single word I would use to describe my clients is they're 'delegators.'"
They're people who want someone to do their investment thinking for them. Edelman sees the best way to do that as by having all 85 of his advisors being single-minded in their approach.
"Merrill Lynch has 15,000 brokers and they're doing 15,000 different things," he said. "As long as whatever they're doing is ethical, legal and profitable Merrill doesn't care what they do or how they do it."
Edeleman prefers a different track.
The Jiffy Lube metaphor again? No, actually he sees his firm also as akin to a certain coffee chain.
"We are Starbuck's," he said. "You can go into any Starbuck's in the world and know exactly what you're going to get."
-By CNBC.com's Jeff Cox. Follow him on Twitter at @JeffCoxCNBCcom