Archive for the ‘Client service’ Category

Wednesday, October 19th, 2016

Do You Possess Self-Belief?

Self-belief is a critical key to success. It’s the bridge between your personal attitude and enthusiasm, and your ability to transfer confidence to your client.

Without belief in what you do your ability to engage your client or a prospective client and get additional business from them will be low.

The common thread among all thought leaders, philosophers, and personal development experts is their consistent writing on the subjects of positive thinking and self-belief.

Dale Carnegie, author of the timeless How to Win Friends and Influence People said, “If you believe in what you are doing, let nothing hold you up in your work. Much of the best work of the world has been done against seeming impossibilities. The thing is to get the work done.”

See what I mean? Well, is that you? How deep is your belief?

Timeless quotes are truths that have stood the test of time. The challenge with quotes is that most people (not you of course) see them at a glance, fail to realize their power and fail to take any action. Or worse, they don’t want to face reality.

The reason these quotes and truths don’t take hold is that they require you to come to grips with yourself. They make you think about where you are, and where you seek to grow.

Among hundreds of powerful thoughts and pearls of wisdom, Napoleon Hill, in his epic self-help book Think and Grow Rich said, “Whatever the mind of man can conceive and believe it can achieve.”

See the trend?

Here’s a quote I like from Maxwell Maltz, author of Psycho-Cybernetics, “Within you right now is the power to do things you never dreamed possible. This power becomes available to you just as soon as you can change your beliefs.”

How about you? Do you believe enough to succeed?

Here are some “core beliefs.”

Belief in your firm. Believe that your ethics are high and your people are great. Beliefs that support is superior and the dedication to clients and to excellence is at the top of the firm’s core values and principles.

Belief in your service. All clients need service; the real issue is how you respond. If your firm supports clients and considers loyalty as key, you are on the right track.

Belief in yourself. This is where the rubber meets the… brain. Your thoughts precede your words and actions. If you are unsure, that will be evident to those around you.

The belief that your clients are better off. This is the part that tests your real belief. You believe that the firm’s clients are better off because they are being served by you and the entire firm team.

  • Believe that life is worth living and your belief will help create the fact.
  • William James

Wednesday, October 12th, 2016

Grammar, Spelling, And Punctuation

Sure, you are an accountant. So, people look to you to understand (and enjoy working with) numbers. They believe all of you are good at math and can do advanced calculations in your head.

You are a CPA, so clients take it for granted that you have prepared their tax return or performed their audit correctly. Your clients (and others) judge you on other things. Mostly, on lots of little things.

One thing, that is not so little in my mind, is how you write. If you are a CPA, or work in a CPA firm, grammar, spelling and punctuation are very, very important when you start typing out communications on that keyboard (or mobile device).

I am very fortunate to have the opportunity to read a lot of things written by CPAs and accountants. Most of it is in the form of communication, to me, and to others. Here are the common mistakes I notice:

  • Improper use of commas.
  • Lack of any punctuation at all, at times, even the use of periods at the end of a sentence.
  • Lack of capitalization – everything is typed in lower case.
  • Confusion between chose and choose; spelling chose when they actually mean choose.
  • Improper use of there and their.
  • Improper use of to and too.
  • Using your when they should be using you’re.

When I first started working in public accounting, I had the opportunity to work with a CPA (partner), who excelled at the written word. His vocabulary was way beyond my experience. I kept a dictionary close by. I learned so much!

I also, during the same time, worked with some accountants that made me wonder if they actually graduated from college based on their spelling, punctuation, and grammar.

Just be aware of how you may be judged. Take your time when writing. I think some of the poor punctuation and grammar is simply laziness or because you are in too much of a hurry.

  • Your grammar is a reflection of your image. Good or bad, you have made an impression. And like all impressions, you are in total control.
  • Jeffrey Gitomer

Monday, October 10th, 2016

Rather Than “Like” – Why not be “Unlike?”

“Be careful when you follow the Masses. Sometimes the ‘M’ is silent.”

Like: Having the same characteristics or qualities; similar to.

Unlike: Different from. Not similar

  • Does your accounting firm do what almost every other accounting firm does?
  • Do you basically just copy what another firm has done for your website?
  • Do you send out the same client newsletter that your competition sends?
  • Do you offer the same employee benefits that all the other firms in your CPA firm association offers?

When you look and sound like all the other CPA firms, you end up competing on price. To me, that appears to be a lose-lose situation.

Your firm ends up blending in with all the others. Your mission should be to stand-out from the crowd.

Take some risk. Try some things that are different. Research and define some ways that your firm can be really unique. Get busy now.

Here’s a great newsletter article from Meredith Liepelt of Rich Life Marketing. It inspired me to write this post.

  • Why fit in when you were born to STAND OUT?
  • Dr. Seuss

Tuesday, September 27th, 2016

The Challenge of Launching New Services

carrieMy friend, Carrie Steffen, President of The Whetstone Group, recently shared some news with me about a new blog series The Whetstone Group is offering. It might be just the push you need to enhance client loyalty.  See below:

Success Strategies for Launching New Services

Many firms are looking for ways to combat the increasing commoditization of compliance services. Further, the landscape of the profession is changing and the next 10 years will require greater emphasis on advisory and other non-compliance specialty services. The path to client loyalty and topline growth is understanding how to meet more of clients’ needs—and continuing to innovate new ways of helping them. If firms can’t offer clients the help they need, you can be sure a competitor will.

In the next few weeks, The Whetstone Group is launching a blog series: Your Future Firm Starts Now: Success Strategies for Launching New ServicesWe’ll offer a systematic approach to help identify new service ideas, prioritize which services to develop, and package and launch these services. Readers will learn the important variables to consider in order to make informed decisions about where and how to invest.

Here is the publishing schedule:

September 21: Steps 1 & 2 – Research Market Needs and Evaluate and Prioritize

October 3: Step 3 & 4 – Define the Scope and Go to Market with Your Service

October 19: Step 5 – Tracking Results and Measuring Success (including a downloadable guide for the whole process).

  • There are two mistakes one can make along the road to truth... not going all the way, and not starting.
  • Buddha

Monday, September 26th, 2016

What Kind of Impression Do Your Emails Make?

“Quality performance (and quality service) starts with a positive attitude.” – Jeffrey Gitomer

It seems that EVERYONE uses texts to communicate now. However, that doesn’t apply so much to CPAs working in public accounting. Lots of business is conducted using email.

I like Jeffrey Gitomer’s sales advice…. “Email is sales-mail!”

I believe it is also part of building your personal brand. Do you ever misspell words? Do you confuse words such as “your” and “you’re”?

We all make grammar mistakes now and then but if you are trying to impress a prospective client be EXTRA careful.

Here’s some great advice from Gitomer – 1) Every email is an impression of you. 2) The best way to get an unsolicited email opened is to ask a question in the subject line that’s specific to the recipient.

  • If leaders are to be followed, it starts with clarity of message.
  • Jeffrey Gitomer

Wednesday, September 21st, 2016

You Should Be Writing For Your Clients

“We are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master.”
—Ernest Hemingway

It doesn’t matter to me what you write for your clients (and prospects). Just do it. Write things that will benefit their business and their personal finances. I know you have a lot of things inside that valuable brain of yours!

Use a blog, a newsletter, a newspaper column, Facebook, Twitter, or even Instagram. Just get information out there!

I write this blog for my clients (and others) every business day and have been for nearly eleven years.

I check my spelling and grammar with something call Grammarly. Every week it gives me a report of how I have done.

Here’s the one I received this week:

  • 5,844 words written – You wrote more words than 93% of Grammarly users did.
  • 64 corrections made – You were more accurate than 66% of Grammarly users.
  • 1,222 unique words used – You have a larger vocabulary than 96% of Grammarly users.
  • Missing commas are my biggest mistakes.
  • Beware of advice - - even this.
  • Carl Sandburg

Tuesday, September 20th, 2016


“When all think alike, then no one is thinking.” – Walter Lippman

It makes me SO happy when I hear about innovative things coming from people working at CPA firms.

While I often lament that we don’t see very much innovation and creativity within firms and that many firms are very happy with the status quo, there are some great firms out there leading the way for others.

The following is an announcement from about the 2016 Innovative Practitioners’ awards. announced this week that Caitlin Lacher and Rachael Higginbotham, both representing Louisiana accounting and business advisory firm Postlethwaite & Netterville, have been named winners of the Innovative Practitioners 2016 Award. The annual award looks to recognize innovations in process, services or technology implementation in public accounting firms.

Lacher and Higginbotham both developed Pounce, a new business development tool, this previous summer. Pounce allows CPA firms to more easily manage and match staff resumes, industry experience, and other firm materials, allowing marketing and sales teams to quickly respond to new business opportunities.

Runner up:  (One of my clients – Congratulations, Charles!)

Charles Postal of Santos, Postal & Co., Rockville, Md. Adopted, and, among other services, to his firm to improve communication amongst staff.

Honorable Mention – a tie

    • Kathy Ryan of RoseRyan, Newark, Calif. Kathy helped develop her firm’s own in-house application, the RoseRyan Dream Team System, to automate time tracking, recruiting, revenue forecasting and more.
    • Dixie McCurley of Trusted CFO Solutions, Atlanta. Dixie helps lead workshops on client accounting services in the cloud, but also walks the walk with her firm, developing customized accounting models for clients that deliver powerful data analytics for business decision-making.

    For more on the 2016 Innovative Practitioners Award, head to’s site here.

  • Interviewer:

Wednesday, August 31st, 2016

Dress A Little Better

“Doing the right thing daily compounds over time.” – John Maxwell

CPA firms used to be a place where you could observe, first-hand, professional dress.

IMG_7704Well, that’s gone forever and I am not whining about that. It’s okay. But, making a great first impression has not gone away. It’s alive and well, quietly in the background of the minds of the people you meet. Sure, the people you meet for the first time, judge you. So do the clients and business referral sources you meet on a periodic basis.

I enjoyed a recent story via Forbes (by Carmine Gallo) Why You Should Dress 25 Percent Better Than Everyone In The Office. It is about actor Matt Damon. When he recently appeared on The Tonight Show, he wore a nicely tailored dark suit, vest, and tie. But earlier in the day, he wore a v-neck sweater for another interviewer. He dresses for the culture of the show. Jimmy Fallon always wears custom-tailored suits and Damon is going to dress as good – if not slightly better – than the host.

Follow this link to read Gallo’s article and then share it with you team members. Gallo also talked to a military hero and inquired about the secret to leading a team into battle. The hero commented that it was a long answer but it starts with how you’re dressed the first time they meet you.

George Washington “got it.” How about you?

  • If we are growing, we will always be outside our comfort zone.
  • John Maxwell

Monday, August 15th, 2016

Beginners Do Appreciate Review Notes

“Criticism, like rain, should be gentle enough to nourish a man’s growth without destroying his roots.” – Frank A. Clark

One of the services I provide to CPA firms is facilitating upward feedback surveys. I usually begin by conducting an upward feedback survey for partners in a firm. Then most of my clients continue on with asking for feedback on managers and supervisors.

One of the interesting things these surveys disclose is that people beginning their career in public accounting value review notes that are expertly communicated in an educational manner.

Many respondents, from many firms, have mentioned that a particular boss (partner, manager or supervisor) provides excellent review notes and often go on to describe how helpful the review notes are and how they learn from them.

Don’t think that this is the entire story! Many respondents, from many firms, also don’t hesitate to mention when a particular boss does not provide clear and concise (and helpful) review notes.

Review notes are such a common practice inside busy firms that we sometimes don’t even think about how helpful it would be if the firm had some sort of standard for writing review notes. If your firm has documented guidelines for writing review notes, maybe you would be open to sharing them with me via email.

One firm, when staff noted that sometimes review notes seemed harsh, actually changed the name of their Review Notes to Learning Points.

Also, don’t forget that people like some verbal feedback to go along with the written review notes.

  • I think it's very important to have a feedback loop, where you're constantly thinking about what you've done and how you could be doing it better.
  • Elon Musk

Thursday, August 11th, 2016

Becoming A Specialist

“If your clients aren’t actively telling their friends about you, maybe your work isn’t as great as you think it is.” – David Maister

Yesterday, I wrote about making yourself and your firm unique. Becoming well-known for a specialty means you attract clients that need your expertise. It is as simple as that.

I’m an example. I completely focus on CPA firm practice management. I do not work with other professional service firms, I don’t know enough about them. Under that unique niche, I am a generalist…. I don’t limit my CPA firm consulting to just marketing, just HR, just process improvement, just organizational alignment, just technology, just administration, just mergers, etc. I know how to run a CPA firm.

You, as an auto dealer CPA, for example, should know how to run an auto dealership with all it entails. You know about their HR, sales, operational challenges, etc. You attend the same industry conferences they attend and you read the same industry blogs, periodicals, magazines and newsletters they read. You immerse yourself in the auto dealer world. Just like I immerse myself in the world of public accounting.

Ed Mendlowitz, in Accounting Today recently, gives us some great insight on Becoming a Specialist – Types of Specialties. 

You need to start the process of deciding what might lead you on a lifelong professional path and Mendlowitz recommends five different types of specialization:

  1. Industry
  2. Service
  3. Size
  4. Geographic
  5. Practice management

His article explains each one.

If you are still a generalist CPA, it’s time to begin your journey to specialization. As David Maister always said…. figure out what you want to be famous for.

  • The way you get rich is don't get sucked into doing dumb stuff for people you don't like.
  • David Maister