Archive for the ‘Client service’ Category

Tuesday, September 19th, 2017

Trying to be All Things to All People

“The difference between average people and achieving people is their perception and response to failure.” – John C. Maxwell

Many CPA firms have remained generalists. They do compliance work for all types of businesses of all sizes. Maybe that is why many people who need a CPA think they are all alike. These firms try to please everyone and probably end up being an average firm.

Some of the most successful firms are evolving into experts. They have become known for special expertise with specific types of businesses. You know who they are, the auto dealer firms, the medical firms, the dental firms, the native American firms and, now, even green firms.

If you continue to try to please everyone, you may end up not pleasing anyone.

Here’s a good post by Seth Godin – Beware of false averages.

  • The average dog is a nicer person than the average person.
  • Andy Rooney

Thursday, September 7th, 2017

Results

“The job isn’t to catch up to the status quo; the job is to invent the status quo.” – Seth Godin

I hear it discussed often when I am with a group of people who work in the CPA profession. It is the topic of judging performance based upon results. Some say, don’t judge them on methods nor maybe even on attitude and teamwork. How much do they accomplish? (How much do they bill? …is often the question in public accounting.)

Some of that is fine with me, but not completely. There is more to a person’s role in a CPA firm than results.

As Seth Godin puts it…. “Doing work that matters, with people we care about.” Doesn’t that sound wonderful? Doesn’t that matter a lot?

Sometimes we find ourselves doing “busy work” – trivial stuff that sucks up much of our time. Sometimes we find ourselves employing people who are not great performers, nor do they even seem to care about the firm. They demotivate those around them.

Read Godin’s post about this topic. Many things actually do matter more than results.

 

  • Being aware of your fear is smart. Overcoming it is the mark of a successful person.
  • Seth Godin

Thursday, August 31st, 2017

A Bit of News Today

“Jobs fill your pockets but adventures fill your soul.” – Jaime Lyn

It is a sad/happy day for me. In case you haven’t heard, this is my friend’s (Bonnie Buol Ruszczyk) last day in business as bbr marketing. 

Bonnie loves working with her clients, she is no longer passionate about running a business. Maybe all of us have had fleeting thought like that from time to time.

IMG_7499Bonnie is certainly not retiring, she is exploring other options. She states in a recent blog post:

“As my company has grown over the last eight years, a fact about which I am very proud, I get to do less of what I love and instead spend much more time running the firm. I’ve decided it is the right time for me to get back to what I am best at and love doing most, and let someone else run the show.”

Warm wishes and best of luck to Bonnie on her quest for a new adventure!

 

  • Attitude is the difference between an ordeal and an adventure.
  • Bob Bitchin

Monday, August 21st, 2017

Too Lazy?

“I can’t relate to lazy people. We don’t speak the same language. I don’t understand you. I don’t want to understand you.” – Kobe Bryant

During these lazy days of summer, maybe you and your team have gotten too lazy, too comfortable, too laid-back. Now is the perfect time for everyone to get back to basics – the basics of advancing your career in public accounting.

Move the firm (and yourself) along by doing more of these things:

  • Volunteering for firm internal projects
  • Being a visible and hands-on manager of people
  • Developing a personal marketing plan and tracking progress via a marketing report
  • Attending charitable and business community events
  • Scheduling frequent lunches with referral sources
  • Picking up the phone and calling clients just to chat
  • Improving your time management and organizational skills
  • Passing the CPA exam quickly
  • Mentoring and coaching the future leaders in your firm
  • Volunteering to help with recruiting and campus activities
  • Working hard is great, being lazy sometimes is great, but failed potential is the worst.
  • Campbell Scott

Monday, August 14th, 2017

Focus On The Valuable Ones

“Success is the result of perfection, hard work, learning from failure, loyalty, and persistence.” – Colin Powell

Often, we find ourselves giving too much attention to people who do not matter.

You might be considering focusing on a new specialty niche. You get all wrapped up in something new and might just forget about the old, faithful clients you’ve had for years.

You do really care about your long-time clients but the intrigue of the hunt for new clients might temporarily over-shadow the tried and true.

I always say, don’t kill the golden goose. Take special care of your long-time loyal clients and help them become more and more successful.

 

  • A person who deserves my loyalty receives it.
  • Joyce Maynard

Thursday, August 10th, 2017

The 10 Most Profitable Industries

“Formal education will make you a living; self-education will make you a fortune.” – Jim Rohn

It’s no surprise to CPA firm owners, but accounting and bookkeeping firms (along with real estate leasing companies and legal services) top the list of the most profitable industries over the last 12 months.

It’s nothing new, accounting has been at the top for several years, but I think sometimes CPA firm owners don’t think much about it, probably because they are used to the profit margins.

The information comes from Sageworks in its annual ranking of the most profitable industries in the U.S.

Most CPAs truly love the work they do. Sure, it involves some long hours, commitment and dedication to client service but being extremely profitable sure is a nice reward.

Share this information inside your firm. Perhaps it will inspire talented, young CPAs to go down the future partner track. Some partners don’t want to share this information because the staff will want bigger salaries. Maybe it is time to have that conversation inside your firm.

most-profitable-2017

 

  • Rule No. 1: Never lose money. Rule No. 2: Never forget rule No. 1.
  • Warren Buffett

Thursday, July 27th, 2017

My Favorite Agreements

“First we will be best, then we will be first.” – – Unknown

Yesterday, I wrote about employment agreements and partner agreements. Neither are my favorite, however, I do have some favorite agreements – The Four Agreements.

fouragreementsThe Four Agreements is a book by Don Miguel Ruiz. I read this book years ago and still do my best to follow the agreements. I believe that these four simple statements can make a difference in the culture of your CPA firm. I hope you read this book this summer!


BE IMPECCABLE WITH YOUR WORD

Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean. Avoid using the word to speak against yourself or to gossip about others. Use the power of your word in the direction of truth and love.

DON’T TAKE ANYTHING PERSONALLY

Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others you won’t be the victim of needless suffering.

DON’T MAKE ASSUMPTIONS

Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want. Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings, sadness and drama. With just this one agreement, you can completely transform your life.

ALWAYS DO YOUR BEST

Your best is going to change from moment to moment; it will be different when you are healthy as opposed to sick. Under any circumstance, simply do your best and you will avoid self-judgment, self-abuse and regret.

  • There is nothing more likely to start disagreement among people or countries than an agreement.
  • E. B. White

Wednesday, July 26th, 2017

Employment Agreements

“Too much agreement kills a chat.” – Eldridge Cleaver

Oh, yes – that touchy topic – employment agreements and partner agreements. CPA firms are famous for having them. Usually, they are part of becoming a manager and for sure when you become a partner. Many firms even have staff accountants sign them.

To be quite honest, after working in public accounting for decades and having signed one myself years ago when I worked in a firm, I have always thought they were not very logical.

My view: If you are a “firm” the clients are clients of the firm and partners are just caretakers of the relationships. Clients really don’t “belong” to anyone – how can you control what a client chooses to do?

If a caretaker leaves the firm and clients also decide to leave the firm, that’s the “firm’s” fault for not strengthening the relationship beyond one particular person.

All of this came to mind because of a recent post by Seth Godin – All deals are handshake deals. I love the final line: “Start with a good agreement. But your future depends on doing agreements with good people.”

  • My people and I have come to an agreement which satisfied us both. They are to say what they please, and I am to do what I please.
  • Frederick the Great

Wednesday, July 19th, 2017

New Clients Will Want Cloud Services

“It takes a very long time to become young.” – Pablo Picasso

I cringe when I hear it. The sad part is that now – summer of 2017 – I am still hearing it way too often from CPA firms around the country.

Are you paperless? Are you completely digital? Are you in the cloud? Are you using a portal?

Most of the answers I hear are…. “sort of,” “not really,” “we don’t trust the cloud,” and “we haven’t pushed it with our clients.”

A recent survey by Bill.com tells us that business owners under the age of 55 prefer their accountants to handle all or most of their accounting work digitally. 78% of those 39 and under want paper-free accounting.

I believe that people, in general, are becoming very accustomed to the digital world – from their personal banking transactions to entertainment.

It’s time to give up the excuse you have used for too many years… “our clients are older and they want things in paper.”

Read more about this survey via Accounting Today – Your Next Accounting Client Wants Paperless, Mobile Services by Mary Ellen Biery.

  • The whims of youth break all the rules.
  • Homer, The Iliad

Thursday, July 6th, 2017

No Email Day

“Effective teamwork begins and ends with communication.” – Mike Krzyzewski

An article via Fast Company caught my eye recently: My Entire Company Avoids Email For One Full Day Every Quarter.

When you email somebody at LaSalle Network, a recruiting and staffing agency, there’s a one in five chance you’ll get this auto-response: “It’s no-email day at LaSalle Network! Today we’re embracing live communication and collaboration. I’m here, just not in my inbox . . . call me! I want to hear from you!”

For the past three years, the company has set aside one day a quarter to abstain from emailing, forcing everyone on staff to get up from their desks and go talk to one another—or at least to pick up the phone. “It’s easy to hide in your inbox, especially when there’s a client issue,” CEO Tom Gimbel concedes. But he’s found that “live collaboration allows us to be more creative. When talking through an issue, we’re faster at coming up with possible solutions and generating new ideas.”

Why couldn’t an accounting firm do this? Here’s how to experiment – what have you got to lose!

Declare a “no email day” for an entire weekday. Everyone is off email from 8:00a to 5:00p except for two 20 minute breaks to identify any REAL emergencies.

Everyone powers down their email and sets a notification – like the one above.

You must talk to people in person or on the phone.

Assess if it cuts down on miscommunications and actually causes more face-to-face dialogue and communication.

Might be a fun experiment this summer and maybe you will make it a habit.

As the business founder, Tom Gimbel, notes, “It’s not perfect. We’ve had people who do get upset or don’t understand why we do it, but overall it’s helping build camaraderie among employees. And most of our clients and vendors have been really supportive.”

 

  • The kinds of errors that cause plane crashes are invariably errors of teamwork and communication.
  • Malcolm Gladwell