Wednesday, June 28th, 2017

Thinking of Suing a Client For Fees? – Read This

“The payment for certain sins can be delayed. But they can’t be avoided.” – Shawn Ryan

IMG_3046I was recently talking with a client about pursuing litigation to collect outstanding fees. It is a difficult topic and something CPAs usually avoid, at all costs.

My good friend, Stephen Vono of NAPLIA (North American Professional Liability Insurance Agency) reminded me of an excellent article on the NAPLIA website titled, “Suits for Fees – ways to avoid them and their liability.”

He, and I, recommend taking steps to reduce the potential for unpaid fees in the first place. It is your best defense.

In the article, it notes that there are three basic billing practices which, when implemented regularly and effectively, can dramatically reduce the number of collection problems your office will face.

Retainers – Retainers should be used on small engagements and on large engagements.

Bill Frequently – Never hesitate to progress bill. A few smaller bills are much better than hitting the client with one huge bill at the end of the engagement.

Payment on Delivery – The preparation of tax returns is a natural for asking for payment upon delivery. I have found that most clients who are new to the firm, actually expect to pay upon delivery.

Follow the link above to read the entire article on the NAPLIA website. Also, take note of the many other wonderful resources on the website. I love the Engagement Letter resource.

  • "The time to save is now. When a dog gets a bone, he doesn't go out and make a down payment on a bigger bone. He buries the one he's got."
  • Will Rogers

Tuesday, June 27th, 2017

Do What You Love

I am very lucky. I found a career that I simply love and it has evolved into a real purpose in life for me.

When I was younger, I knew many people who actually hated their job, yet they continued to work at the same place for many years. It always puzzled me. What a miserable way to spend your life!

I believe that the profession of public accounting would be an excellent choice for many young people just beginning their careers. Not every firm is alike, so I strongly warn young professionals, it may not be public accounting you dislike, it may just be the firm you are currently with.

If you are thinking about leaving your firm, please give another CPA firm a try before you leave public accounting altogether. My career growth has been a joy to me without a single boring minute. I have learned so much and, hopefully, have matured quite nicely. And, while I have been working in public accounting for decades, I still love it and enjoy the ways I can strive to help others succeed.

As Steve Jobs said:

You’ve got to find what you love. And that is as true for your work as it is for your lovers. Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do.” 

I love a recent post by Rebecca Tamsen of Self Development Secrets. It is titled, Do what you love. Find your purpose in life.

Here’s an excerpt:

When you don’t know what you’re passionate about and aren’t doing what you love, your life lacks a deeper meaning. There are several other reasons why you need to do what you love:

  1. You will know no stress
  2. Your productivity will increase
  3. You will remain motivated
  4. Your work will have a touch of passion
  5. You will push yourself to be more successful
  6. You will enjoy a gratifying life
  7. You will always be ready to face new challenges
  8. You will always be learning
  9. Procrastination won’t be your cup of tea
  10. You will be an efficient leader

I feel like all of these apply to me! Be sure to follow the link, above, and read about each of these points. Then find YOUR purpose and do what you LOVE.

  • "Pleasure in the job puts perfection in the work."
  • Aristotle

Monday, June 26th, 2017

Start Networking Now

“If you’re trying to be successful, networking is the difference between mediocre and big.” – Jeffrey Gitomer

Sure, accounting firms are getting a lot of new business via social media. Many new clients now come directly from your website. I love to see CPAs using Twitter and Instagram. There are some great blogs out there authored by CPAs.

Here comes the but. But, personal networking is still an extremely important part of career-building for CPAs working in public accounting. If you are just beginning our CPA career – begin networking now. If you have many years of experience and really haven’t been expected to bring in business up to now – begin networking now. If you are a partner who rarely brings in business – begin networking now.

I am a fan of Jeffrey Gitomer and all his writings about sales and other things. He says, “Networking is life skills and social skills combined with sales skills. It is business leisure conducted before and after work – as proposed to business frantic, which is conducted from 9 to 5 (the exception being lunch)

Here’s Gitomer’s principles of networking:

  • to get known by those who count
  • to get more prospects
  • to make more contacts
  • to make more sales
  • to build relationships
  • to make a career advancement (or just get a job)
  • to build your reputation (and be seen and known as consistent)What do you need to be a successful networker?
  • A GREAT 30-second commercial that engages and asks questions that qualify the prospect, and gets to the next step in the sales cycle if there’s an interest.
  • Your willingness to dedicate the time it takes to do it and be excellent at it.
  • A plan of where and when.To maximize your networking effectiveness, you must follow one simple rule:
    Go where your customers and prospects go, or are likely to be.

Gitomer’s recent post gives you the 21.5 BEST places to network. Be sure to read it and begin networking!

  • "Let us always meet each other with a smile, for the smile is the beginning of love."
  • Mother Teresa

Friday, June 23rd, 2017

Lighten Up – Flashback Fridays For Summer

“It was June, and the world smelled of roses. The sunshine was like powdered gold over the grassy hillside.” – Maud Hart Lovelace, author

Summer officially arrived this week. I hope you are carving out some time to simply enjoy a beautiful summer day.

Here’s my Friday flashback.

Twitter As A Resource – Not Just Noise

 

  • "Summer is very precious."
  • Dylan Lauren

Thursday, June 22nd, 2017

Client Service – Incoming Phone Calls

“Good manners will open doors that the best education cannot.” – Clarence Thomas

It’s been a while since I have written about the importance of incoming phone calls. As you might expect, I often call Certified Public Accounting firms. How I am greeted tells me a lot about the firm, the partners and the Director of First Impressions.

The DOFI’s job is to make people feel welcome, not to make them feel like they are interrupting them from something more important.

I urge you not to interrogate your callers. The first thing that enters your client’s (or prospective client’s) mind is, “When I tell them who I am it helps them decide if I am important enough for XXX to take my call.”

I urge you not to have a completely automated phone greeting process. CPAs are in the service business. The CPA profession is a word of mouth business. Potential clients call you because they have been referred by a friend, attorney, banker or by someone else they rely upon for good advice. Don’t disappoint these important referral sources.

Do you have experienced team members designated to receive potential new client calls when the caller does not have a specific name to ask for? Most firms have a few tax managers who actually don’t mind taking these calls and handling them with professionalism, care and concern. Have you considered making your Marketing Director or Director of Practice Development part of this taking-cold-calls-team?

Be sure that your team members understand that sometimes the best calls with the most potential might come at a very busy time and the manager might be inclined to say “take a message” or let the call go into voice mail. The caller will probably seek professional services elsewhere.

So, you ask, “Why do I bother when most of these types of calls go no where?”

It is about brand, image and reputation in your community; about CPAs being the most trusted advisor. Besides, that caller asking about individual tax preparation might say, “I called Smith & Company about my taxes. CPAs are sure expensive but I was impressed, they treated me so nicely and gave me the name of a smaller firm who was a perfect fit for me.”

  • "Good manners are made up of petty sacrifices."
  • Ralph Waldo Emerson

Wednesday, June 21st, 2017

K.I.S.S.

“If we stopped doing this, who would notice?” – Dan Rockwell @leadershipfreak

From my experience working in the CPA profession, we always used K.I.S.S. to mean “Keep It Simple, Stupid.” – – Whenever I used it, I always changed it to mean, “Keep It Simple, Sweetheart.” It is always important to be kind.

In more recent years, we have been talking a lot about K.S.S. – Keep, Stop, Start as it relates to performance feedback. We share with others in the firm what we think they should keep doing, stop doing and start doing. I am happy that I now see many firms using this much simplified version of performance feedback.

I have now learned from @Leadershipfreak (Dan Rockwell) that he has added an “I” to Keep Stop Start to change it to K.I.S.S. and uses it for meeting agendas:

#1 – Keep: What do we need to keep doing?

#2 – Improve: What do we need to improve?

#3 – Stop: What do we need to stop doing?

#4 – Start: What do we need to start doing.

Read more about Dan’s version of K.I.S.S. here.

Most CPA firms have WAY too many meetings. Maybe K.I.S.S. will help you streamline some of them. Also, seriously consider which meetings you can actually eliminate.

  • "People who enjoy meetings should not be in charge of anything."
  • Thomas Sowell

Tuesday, June 20th, 2017

Download Your Tech Roadmap

“To embrace technology as a strategic enabler, firms need to shift their treatment of technology from cost to investment.” – Donny Shimamoto

You can now download a new free ebook from Sageworks. In the book, leading experts in technology, practice management, marketing and firm strategy share their real-world advice for preparing firms to navigate technology choices, determining which technologies are best suited for the challenges facing firms and ensuring the solutions work for a firm. The book also covers strategies to help firms increase their value through the reliance on technology.

I am simply delighted to be included among these amazing experts.

Tech Roadmap: Selecting the Ideal Solutions to Thrive in Business AdvisingINSIDE THIS EBOOK:

  • The Groundwork – What needs to happen at a firm before it begins vetting specific technology?
  • Addressing Challenges With Technology – What types of technologies should be considered?
  • Making Tech Work – How can firms ensure technology is adopted successfully?

READ ADVICE FROM INDUSTRY LEADERS

Need help navigating tech choices for your firm? See my advice in a new eBook from @sageworks http://web.sageworks.com/e/14602/2rVqSY7/7f42gj/692738269 

  • "Anyone starting a firm today should be in the cloud. I tell every single sole practitioner startup, ‘YOU HAVE TO BE 100 PERCENT IN THE CLOUD. Your clients are going to want to be able to collaborate with you."
  • James C. Bourke, WithumSmith+Brown

Monday, June 19th, 2017

Keeping You Informed About Blockchain

“I’ve spent a ton of time studying blockchain the last three years, and it’s about getting connected to the right resources.” – – Gary Boomer

As I talk with practitioners this summer, I am finding that many are still not educating themselves about blockchain.

I have blogged about it before and today I am reminding you once again to learn all you can about blockchain.

There is a very helpful article via The Journal of Accountancy, posted recently – Why CPAs need to get a grip on blockchain.

The article covers a presentation by Gary Boomer, CPA/CITP, CGMA, of Boomer Consulting, at the recent AICPA ENGAGE conference in Las Vegas.

Boomer highlighted a number of crucial concepts that helps explain blockchain and gives insight into its value propositions for the accounting profession:

  1. Blockchain is secure and immutable
  2. Think of blockchain as the internet of value
  3. Blockchain data will create new business opportunities
  4. Studying up on blockchain will pay off

Read the entire article and more about each crucial concept here.

  • "Accountants who get a grip on blockchain today will be the ones who successfully pivot their services tomorrow."
  • Gary Boomer

Friday, June 16th, 2017

Lighten Up – Summer Fridays

“Laughter is an instant vacation.” – Milton Berle

fullsizeoutput_4085I am going to take my own advice. I’m doing things other than working all day on Fridays! Like last Friday, for example, I enjoyed watching my grandkids paddle board for the first time.

So, this summer I will not be writing a new blog post on Fridays.

On most Fridays this summer, I will be simply posting a link to a previous blog post that I think is important for you to read.

This Friday:

Here’s one from June last year (2016): My View – Casual Dress.

Have a great weekend.

  • "A vacation is having nothing to do and all day to do it in."
  • Robert Orben

Thursday, June 15th, 2017

AICPA Top Issues Survey 2017

“My main job was developing talent. I was a gardener providing water and other nourishment to our top 750 people. Of course, I had to pull out some weeds, too.” — Jack Welch

Every other year, the AICPA/PCPS conducts a top issues survey. Some of the findings from the 2017 Top Issues Survey were released yesterday.

Finding qualified staff was the No. 1 issue in every firm-size segment except sole practitioners where it ranked No. 3. Likewise, retaining qualified staff was a Top 5 issue in every grouping except sole practitioners. Recruitment and retention were leading concerns last time the survey was conducted in 2015, too, but the challenge appears steeper as the profession continues to gain strength in a growing economy.

Besides staffing, other common Top 5 issues this year include succession planning, acquisition of new clients, workload compression and keeping up with tax law complexity.  One former top issue, retention of current clients, has fallen out of the top issues for all groups.

So, no big surprises here. Just keep focused on developing a firm culture where people will want to stay and develop their career in public accounting. If you want to know how to do that, just browse through many of my past blog posts!

  • "The growth and development of people is the highest calling of leadership."
  • Harvey S. Firestone