Archive for the ‘Client service’ Category
Tuesday, June 18th, 2013
One of the best ways for CPAs to obtain prospective clients is to have current clients recommend them.
Often, clients don’t think to do it and at times it seems rather awkward to bluntly ask them to refer you to others.
Here are four steps to take towards getting new leads.
- Identify your biggest segment (niche) of clients. It might be auto dealers, medical practices, dentists, excavating companies…. whatever.
- Solicit ideas from your partners and employees who serve this niche about the biggest issues and/or challenges the business owner faces in successfully growing or managing their business.
- Develop a brief, maybe 45-minute, webinar presentation that helps them solve their “big” issue.
- Invite them to the webinar and be sure to encourage them to forward the invitation to other business owners who may also be facing this issue.
When non-clients register, you have leads. If nothing else, you have a broader exposure to business owners in that niche.
Always keep in mind my favorite Tom Peters‘ phrase:
W T T M S W
Whoever Tries The Most Stuff Wins.
We have a strategic plan. It's called "doing things."
Tuesday, June 11th, 2013
A couple of weeks ago, I had the chance to hear Ron Baker speak on Pricing On Purpose: Creating and Capturing Value. It was thought-provoking, interesting and simply put, logical.
Baker taught me about High Satisfaction Days. HSDs are the days when something happens that makes you swell with a sense of accomplishment and think Life Is Good.
I am a big fan of Tom Peters and have been for years. What’s sad to me is that so many people I interact with now (much younger than me) have no clue who he is. Baby Boomers – you definitely know who he is. Years ago he co-authored In Search of Excellence – - often tagged as the best business book ever written. His blog is #9 among “The Top 150 Management and Leadership Blogs.
I often use quotes from Peters in my presentations and I always urge my clients and friends to follow his blog and read The Little Big Things, his most recent book.
So…. the point of this rambling – the thing that made me have an HSD….. on Sunday Tom Peters replied to one of my tweets. I’ve been pretty much on a high ever since. I captured a picture with my iPhone, of course. Are you working to create more HSDs inside your accounting firm?
Tom Peters is the most provocative and engaging (as well as annoying and threatening) management guru running loose in America today.
Thursday, June 6th, 2013
I read a post from one of my favorite bloggers, Seth Godin, a while back. It sure comes into play for me now that I have hit my traveling season. The title is, Eleven Things Organizations Can Learn From Airports.
His opening line is something similar to what I have been saying for the last five years to people who inquire about my schedule and how much I seem to travel. “I realized that I don’t dislike flying – - I dislike airports.”
Here are a few of Godin’s comments, with some of my own views:
- No one seems to be in charge. The airport doesn’t appear to have a CEO. You never see them, hear about them or interact with them in any way. When a person at the top doesn’t care, it filters down. – - How visible is your managing partner in the office, in the business community and in the civic, charitable and social circles in your town? Shy, introverted, sloppily dressed, boring people need not apply.
- Problems persist because organizations defend their turf instead of embrace the problem. TSA blames the facilities people, who blame someone else and around and around. – - Hmmm… sound familiar? Inside many CPA firms the partners blame the staff, the staff blames the partners, admin blames the accountants and everyone blames the tech team.
- Everyone is treated the same. Effective organizations treat different people differently. There is some window dressing at the edges like slightly faster first class and motorized cars for seniors, but in general airports insist that the one size they’ve chosen to offer fit all. – - Do you price your services dependent upon the client’s need? If they are a pain to deal with and need something “tomorrow” do you charge them more? Do you offer options when proposing service plans to potential clients? Do you give the same holiday gift or card to every client? Why not treat the special ones a little more special?
- No one is having any fun. Most people who work at airports have precisely the same demeanor as people who work at a cemetery. – - There are often times when people inside accounting firms don’t seem to be having any fun. It’s a “nose to the grindstone” workplace. Having a holiday party and a summer picnic is not going to create an enjoyable, lively, fun, innovative and engaging culture inside your firm.
When dealing with airports, you basically have no choice, they have a monopoly. Your clients definitely have a choice. These may also apply to your people – they have a choice, too.
These are only three of the eleven things we can learn from airports. Be sure to follow the link above to read his entire blog post.
Pilots take no special joy in walking. Pilots like flying.
Monday, June 3rd, 2013
“Bob always has his door closed.” ”Most of the partners have their doors closed too much.” “I wish I had a door I could close instead of being in this cubicle.” All of these are frequently heard inside an accounting firm.
I find that most people working inside CPA firms (non-partners) think that every time they see several closed-door sessions going on inside partners’ offices it means something bad is going to happen. Almost always, that is not true.
Sure, private conversations have to sometimes happen between partners and between partners and staff inside a firm. However, most often a closed door means the person simply does not want to be interrupted.
Check out this short story in SUCCESS magazine, titled “Shut the Front Door! (And Don’t Let Distraction In)
Research keeps telling us about the danger of distractions. Researchers for Michigan State University and the Navy have determined that people make double, sometimes triple, the errors immediately after they are interrupted, even when the diversions last only a few seconds. A three-second distraction doubled errors in the study; 4.5-second interruptions tripped the errors.
As you know, there are endless avenues for distractions these days – email, texts, tweets, facebook, etc. Turn off the phone, log out of social media, shut down email when you are focused on completing a task and you want to avoid mistakes.
Friday, May 31st, 2013
I really appreciate brief, rather simple thoughts from other bloggers that make me think. Just my opinion, but I often notice blog posts that are way, way too long. If you are a CPA who is blogging, you might tend to over-do it.
I understand and applaud your efforts and definitely want more of you to blog. But strive to be clear, concise and leave them wanting more. Many experts say to strive for 250 to 500 words.
I’m going to use a blog post by Seth Godin (it follows) as an example. It is a simple observation that made me think. I’ve been thinking about CPA firms and their bathrooms frequently lately. What’s your version of a clean bathroom?
The facilities at DisneyWorld are clean. It’s not a profit center, of course. They don’t make them clean because they’re going to charge you to use them. They make them clean because if they didn’t, you’d have a reason not to come.
It turns out that just about everything we do involves cleaning the bathrooms. Creating an environment where care and trust are expressed. If you take a lot of time to ask, “how will this pay off,” you’re probably asking the wrong question. When you are trusted because you care, it’s quite likely the revenue will take care of itself.
The question isn't who is going to let me; it's who is going to stop me.
Thursday, May 30th, 2013
Ever wonder how you are really perceived in your business community?
Try this fun exercise with your entire team during a Lunch & Learn session or at a regular team meeting.
Use the above title line. Insert the name of your firm. Have each person write down a word or phrase that fills-in the BLANK.
After everyone is done – share them and discuss them. How are you really known?
It could be……
- They are the auto-dealer firm.
- They are the new firm.
- They are the oldest firm in town.
- The are the audit firm.
- They are the estate-planning firm.
- They are the innovative firm.
- They are the old-fashioned firm.
You might find out some eye-opening perceptions about your firm.
Truth is the only safe ground to stand on.
Elizabeth Cady Stanton
Tuesday, May 28th, 2013
With Memorial Day behind us, we now thinking summer. Ah, summer…… at least as far as the weather goes. Although, in some parts of New England they had significant snow on Memorial Day.
Yes, that reminds me of life inside an accounting firm. Just when you think the worst of “it” is over, you get hit with a blizzard. Many firm leaders are telling me that we got what we wished for.
What I mean by that is, if you have been working in public accounting for 15 or 20 years you might remember that we agonized over the fact that we couldn’t keep people busy in the summer. We worked very hard at identifying niches and services where our people could be productive all year long.
What I am hearing from many CPA firm leaders is that there is no “down” time any more. We go from year-end season (the time from January through April when we provide tax and accounting services to our clients with December year-ends) into non-profit or pension audit season (summer), into our Fall tax season (working on all those extended returns due 9/15 and 10/15) into year-end planning season.
Seems like we got what we wished for and now it’s becoming very painful. Today, I just want to remind you that yes, client service and making a profit are very important but please don’t forget… as beautiful summer weather sweeps across the country, that Life is also important.
I recently read a quote from Alan Weiss in one of his Monday Morning Memos: “It’s tough to live when you’re not enjoying life.”
So – QUICKLY – get your vacation scheduled and don’t delay or postpone it. Be sure your entire team does the same.
Meeting the needs of clients is important but so is down-time, vacation-time and think-time. Embrace them all with enthusiasm. As a firm leader it is important that you set the example. If you are working 3,000 hours per year, who would ever want to be an owner in your firm? – - What’s important? It’s ALL important.
Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm.
Ralph Waldo Anderson
Thursday, May 9th, 2013
Many CPA leaders will soon be gathering for the annual retreat, summit, planning meeting – whatever your firm calls it. The partners, key functional area leaders and accounting managers will gather and discuss and debate where the firm is going and what they all need to do this year to keep moving forward.
Once it is over, the group will return and tell the rest of the team what to do to help achieve the firm goals. This plays out in smaller ways by managers and partners telling the team what to do relating to their daily duties that involve serving clients.
While I believe in lots of communication with your team – - continual, brief conversations on how they are doing and if they need your help – - I don’t think you should tell them every single step in great detail. You should not expect them to do it exactly how YOU have always done it.
Give them some room to explore and to actually THINK about what they are trying to accomplish. There is a difference between active, hands on management and micro management. I think you get the picture – hands-on means you are available and helpful. Micro means you are breathing down their neck and hovering.
Yes, checklists are a good thing when you are training young, inexperienced accountants but don’t develop a culture where if it is not on the checklist we don’t do it.
Do you have a team of box-checkers or entrepreneurial thinkers?
Here’s a good story from HBR about sharing what you want to achieve versus telling someone exactly what to do. It’s titled, Stop Telling Your Employees What To Do.
Telling a teenager the facts of life is like giving a fish a bath.
Wednesday, May 1st, 2013
I think all of you know that I try my best to keep you informed of the various products and services “out there” in the accounting world that might help you make your CPA firm a better place. I like to share topics that might help you build strong teams within your firms and also help you serve clients.
Perhaps you have been hearing about Xero – Online Accounting Software. Many firms are already using it.
Today, I just wanted to share this video because it is interesting, fun and beautifully done.
Experts tell us that we learn more and better when we are told a story. Check out this story of a small business owner, Arthur, a tree-house architect, Lucy, his bookkeeper and Charles Green, his accountant.
Are you telling stories about your firm and how you serve clients?
When someone is mean to me, I just make them a victim in my next book.
Mary Higgins Clark
Monday, April 29th, 2013
My mission is to help CPAs become and remain competitive by the way they focus on their own business. Below is a great video from Jason Blumer, CPA and Xero that will help you understand where the world of accounting is going. I like what he has to say about social media, “You use it to build relationships.”
It is not in the stars to hold our destiny but in ourselves.