Archive for the ‘Client service’ Category

Tuesday, February 27th, 2018

It’s An Important Role – DOFI

“Without hard work and discipline, it is difficult to be a top professional.” – Jahangir Khan

A key role in your firm is one that I call the Director of First Impressions (DOFI). Many firms have adopted this title because it really is very descriptive. Some firms just say it is their Receptionist or the front desk person. For some reason, and it probably goes back to the old days, team members look down on this position and no one wants to “sit at the front desk” even when that person goes to lunch!

I think you should be very selective in hiring for this position and demanding when it comes to their performance – set some high expectations. It really is NOT a no-brainer job!

Historically, this person just greeted clients and answered the phone. There wasn’t much else they could do without physically leaving their desk. Technology has changed all of that. Now, they can do a lot of what the other administrative assistants do. Plus, phone traffic has decreased in many firms because of direct phone numbers for your team.

One very important task this person should be handling in your firm is the monitoring of 8879s and releasing returns. Many firms have actually established this procedure and it is working very well. Reminding clients and following up if they don’t respond and then monitoring the release of returns is something that can be done without leaving the front desk.

Your DOFI also is an important part of your client service and marketing efforts. They make everyone feel welcome when they visit the firm, offering them refreshments and hanging up their coats. They have a smile (in their voice) when they answer the phone.

Many CPAs have told me that some clients call the firm’s main number just so they can talk to the DOFI. At my firm, we once landed a big client and in their acceptance letter, they mentioned how nice they were treated by Sonya (DOFI) when their executive team visited our firm.

If you are fortunate enough to have a top performer in this position, pay them well. They are worth more than an average administrative assistant.

  • If you think it's expensive to hire a professional to do the job, wait until you hire an amateur.
  • Red Adair

Friday, February 23rd, 2018

It’s Great To Work In Public Accounting

Maybe you haven’t thought about it lately. Maybe it never crosses your mind January through April, but working in public accounting is pretty cool.

You work your entire career with a group of professionals, people dedicated to helping others. After all, CPAs are the most trusted advisor to small business owners across the nation.

The people that surround you are intelligent, well-educated and dedicated to giving back to their local communities. Some of the clients you get to work with are the movers and shakers in the business community.

You learn something new almost every day and you become more knowledgeable and professional with each passing year.

I noticed this hard-working young man yesterday, a chilly winter day, and it came to mind how fortunate I was (and you are) to work in public accounting.

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Wednesday, February 21st, 2018

Innovate

“Art, freedom and creativity will change society faster than politics.” – Victor Pinchuk

I have often written about the need for CPA firm leaders to be more innovative and creative. So many firm leaders are very happy with just following the pack. Their continuing question is, “What are other firms doing?”.

Forget what other firms are doing and work on developing a culture of innovation inside your firm. If you want your firm to grow you must be able to educate your market on your unique approach to public accounting. To the outside world, all CPA firms look alike!

I recently read an article by Jeffrey Gitomer titled, “Still trying to think outside the box? What are you thinking?”

The article is about an artist who wants to create a communication program using art and imagery. It is an interesting concept and I especially like steps he outlines for a creative session. I think they could definitely be used in an accounting firm.

  • It's impossible to explain creativity. It's like asking a bird, 'How do you fly?' You just do.
  • Eric Jerome Dickey

Tuesday, February 20th, 2018

Enable Your Firm To Grow

Katie“Absorb what is useful, discard what is not, add what is uniquely your own.” – Bruce Lee

I enjoyed attending the CPAFMA Ohio Chapter meeting last week in Columbus. Katie Tolin of CPA Growth Guides enlightened the attendees about the importance of product development, something missing from most CPA firms.

Here are some bullet points from Tolin’s remarks. I hope you find them very thought-provoking!

  • For a CPA firm to grow, they need 3 things: marketing, business development, and product management.
  • In most firms, product management is missing – you need all three.
  • Accounting is a mature profession and compliance work has hit its peak.
  • We are in a sea of sameness. Starbucks elevated the cup of coffee. How have we changed the tax return? About the only thing is e-filing, now everyone does it.
  • Technology is speeding things up and that kills billing by the hour.
  • We have mature products and a mature industry, how do we innovate? It can’t only be about new products (services), we need to innovate things we already do.
  • You must always challenge the status quo. Make it part of your culture.
  • Employees need to be empowered to please clients. You need two things, happy clients and happy employees.
  • Katie Tolin

Monday, February 19th, 2018

Transformation!

“The good old days are now.” – Tom Clancy

There is a great article by Bill Sheridan via the Business Learning Institute titled, CPAs aren’t doomed … they’re transforming.

I continue to try to get the message across to CPAs in firms big and small … the good old days are gone! You must learn new skills and commit to personal change. Yes, you must transform yourself and your firm.

Here’s a paragraph (but be sure to read the entire article).

To paraphrase Daniel Burrus, your clients still need you; they just don’t need the old you. They don’t need you to manage data and fill out forms. They need your insight. They need you to anticipate the future and help them take advantage of it. They need you to be business advisors, not number crunchers.

 

  • Life is a moving, breathing thing. We have to be willing to constantly evolve. Perfection is constant transformation.
  • Nia Peeples

Thursday, February 15th, 2018

Be Bold

“Be original; don’t be scared of being bold!” – Ed Sheeran

Sometimes, I have observed that accountants are actually afraid to be bold. Don’t be!

Do things differently, treat your team differently, treat your clients differently and maybe it would be beneficial if YOU acted differently.

Many people believe that all accounting firms are pretty much alike. I have observed that fact over the years. I have also observed that there are some, a small number, that really are different.

I have also observed that there are some firms where there is one VERY bold partner. Well, almost too bold. That person lords over the partner group and the team and everyone seems to fall in line because they are afraid to be bold in return.

One of the questions I have heard over and over again is, “What are other firms doing?” This year, don’t follow the pack. Begin by giving your firm a “facelift.”

  • Is your office modern?
  • Is your logo trendy and modern?
  • Are you offering services that other firms are not?
  • Do you focus on something besides chargeable hours?
  • Are you making the client experience awesome?
  • Are you making the employee experience awesome?
  • Are you operating in the digital world – no more paper, no more fancy, expensive covers, client-friendly portals, lots of social media activity to benefit clients and prospects?
  • Is your website cool?

Read the Ed Sheeran quote, above, again. BE BOLD.

  • Originality implies being bold enough to go beyond accepted norms.
  • Anthony Storr

Tuesday, February 13th, 2018

Do It Right

“I follow three rules: Do the right thing, do the best you can, and always show people you care.” – Lou Holtz

When I first joined a CPA firm and learned the many steps of proofing and reviewing to make sure the job was right, an old saying kept going through my mind.

“Do it right the first time.”

I have heard it many times from others. When I began writing this blog post, I wasn’t sure where it originated so, of course, I Googled it:

Do It Right The First Time (DRIFT) is a theory from managerial accounting that relates to just-in-time (JIT) inventory where a company only receives goods as they are needed to cut down on inventory costs and production management. The idea behind DRIFT is that management wants all of the processes that make up the JIT philosophy to be done correctly and efficiently, so there are no delays in the production process.

Before coming to the CPA profession, my work experiences were always focused on doing it right; proofing my own work before it left my desk. I soon learned that wasn’t how it was done in CPA firms. Proofers and reviewers always found mistakes!

When your team members are given a task that they are definitely qualified to complete, I hope you expect them to do it right the first time. I hope you, personally, strive to do it right the first time.

 

  • With integrity, you have nothing to fear, since you have nothing to hide. With integrity, you will do the right thing, so you will have no guilt.
  • Zig Ziglar

Monday, February 12th, 2018

Awesome

“Behind every successful man is a proud wife and a surprised mother-in-law.” – Hubert Humphrey

If you want awesome, extraordinary clients maybe you should be providing awesome, extraordinary client service.

Most progressive CPA firms strive to provide top-notch client service. They are obsessed with accuracy but maybe not so much with timeliness.

Why not try some things that will surprise and delight your clients. They can’t tell if their tax return is technically correct – that’s what they hire you for. They trust that you are competent. They don’t expect much more.

I always ask, “What have you done to make your client say, ‘Wow!’?” It is the little things that make the biggest difference.

You’re very confident that you can have Bill’s tax return to him by next Wednesday. Tell him it will be ready next Friday and surprise him by delivering the final product two days early.

Little things…. when your clients drop off their tax information, have a small gift bag ready for them with a chocolate bar with the firm logo on it, a firm-branded pen or Post-it pad, a wipe for their phone screens – whatever.

Have your team suggest other little things can be done to make clients say “WOW!”

 

  • Never tell people how to do things. Tell them what to do and they will surprise you with their ingenuity.
  • George S. Patton

Wednesday, February 7th, 2018

Be Sure You Are Asking

“One who never asks either knows everything or nothing.” – Malcolm Forbes

It’s busy season. You are talking with so many clients either in person or via phone.

They are asking questions. Are you?

Every time you are talking with a client ask:

How are we doing?

Encourage them to share even little things that might bug them about your services, your communication and what you can do better.

Do you know anyone who could use our services?

Just briefly tell them how referrals are so valuable to you and the firm.

 

  • Why and how are words so important that they cannot be too often asked.
  • Napoleon Bonaparte

Wednesday, January 31st, 2018

Blockchain – The Future of Accounting

“Education is the passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today.” – Malcolm X

I am always searching for ways to better explain blockchain to accountants and accounting students. This infographic from Maryville University and the accompanying article are very informative.

 

Blockchain: The Future of Accounting? Infographic

Maryville University

 

  • The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.
  • Eleanor Roosevelt