“It is not necessary to change. Survival is not mandatory.” – W. Edwards Deming
How are you doing with that “change” thing? I write about it over and over again and about how important it is to embrace change and keep pace with the changing world.
Today, I won’t write much but I want you to follow this link and read a great article by Jody Padar. To me, it’s a simple message: If you don’t change you will lose clients. Read it please and think about it over the weekend.
You must welcome change as the rule but not as the ruler.
“We are a full-service accounting firm serving clients throughout the area, dedicated to providing our clients with professional, personalized services and guidance in a wide range of financial and business needs.”
“Since 1984, our Certified Public Accounting firm, has been providing quality, personalized financial guidance to local individuals and businesses. Our expertise ranges from valuable tax management and accounting services to more in-depth services such as audits of financial statements, preparation of financial statements, consulting and financial planning.”
Do the above descriptions sound like something that is on your website? They are typical of what I see as I visit CPA websites from across the country. Although I have been urging you to get creative with your website for years, I still find many that look the same way they did in 1997 (or earlier).
While your accountants are busy for the next couple of months, it’s time for your firm administrator or marketing director (coordinator) to get busy updating your website.
Make it friendly to the first-time visitor. On the home page, tell them how you can help THEM and not so much about YOU. Save the information about your firm for a subsequent page. Some things you need to convey:
Immediate resources for the visitor
Your energy, enthusiasm, and excitement about what you do
“So what do we do? Anything. Something. So long as we just don’t sit there. If we screw it up, start over. Try something else. If we wait until we’ve satisfied all the uncertainties, it may be too late.”
You can, you should, and if you're brave enough to start, you will.
“Deciding what not to do is an important as deciding what to do.” – Jessica Jackley
CPAs who have reached the manager level in a public accounting firm are not always great managers.
They have reached the manager level (usually the level just below partner) because they have worked very hard and been with the firm for several years. They are good at managing the client work. They have been trained and trained for that job. The firm has invested significant dollars in their technical knowledge advancement. They are great technicians.
Firm leaders then expect them to naturally be great managers of people – great trainers, mentors and delegators. Yet, the firm has not spent any money on teaching them how to be motivators and leaders.
Perhaps you have heard this story inside your own firm – Sally is a great manager. She brings the job in on time and under budget. She works an almost unreal amount of hours to get it done. She has an engagement team to help her. Young Bill on her team struggles with a particular part of the work. Sally takes the work back and does it herself. Her excuse is, “I know my billing rate is much higher than Bill’s but I can do it in half the time.” Thus, Bill never learns and Sally is tired and stressed.
Ask you younger people to stretch – they might just surprise you in how much they can accomplish if they are taught, managed and encouraged.
No person will make a great business who wants to do it all himself or get all the credit.
“The telephone is a good way to talk to people without having to offer them a drink.” – Fran Lebowitz
I know many CPAs who avoid talking to their clients. Yes, they have all kinds of valid excuses. I don’t mean to say that they ignore their clients but they think they save time by emailing almost all of the time.
That’s why the following thought, expressed by Simon Sinek, was meaningful to me.
“A five-minute call replaces the time it takes to read and reply to the original email and read and reply to their reply… or replies. And I no longer spend 20+ minutes crafting the perfect email – no need to.” – – Simon Sinek
So, you say, when I call my client I always get voice mail and we end up playing telephone tag. When they return my call I may be on the phone with another client.
Simple solution – set a telephone appointment.
Sinek’s quote also applies to your team members – a two-minute conversation can keep client work moving through the office rather than having the staffer wait on partners or managers to reply to emails.
Delay in getting answers from partners is one of the most common responses I receive when facilitating upward feedback surveys for partners.
I think the quote, below, applies to accounting firms!
For email, the old postcard rule applies. Nobody else is suppose to read your postcards, but you'd be a fool if you wrote anything private on one.
Managing partners and firm administrators, are you preparing your firm to take advantage of this growing workforce? It could be the answer to the big challenge of finding top talent to serve your clients.
CPAs are (and think) traditional. It’s time to think non-traditional relating to so many areas of firm management.
2017 is going to be an exciting year!
Change is not merely necessary to life - it is life.
Don’t you feel wonderful when you hear those three little words?
Sure you do, everyone wants to hear “I love you.” I hope you hear them and say them daily. But wait, that’s not the “three little words” I’m talking about.
The three little words I’m referring to are three you do not want to hear. You probably hide from them and deny them.
I hear this saga very often from CPA firm managing partners, “We don’t have a succession plan. There is just no one at our firm who can take over from us. There is no one here that can do what WE do.” My question is “Whose fault is that?” – – – Baby It’s You.
If you are the managing partner at a firm (or a sole proprietor), you are in charge. The future of the firm is in your hands.
If your people are not good managers, relationship builders or passionate about the firm…
If they don’t show up at the appointed time….
If they spend too much time on the web and social media for personal reasons during the day…..
If they put too much time in a job because they don’t have a budget….
If they make you cringe some days because of the way they are dressed….
Who is responsible for these behaviors? The responsibility for all of these kinds of issues comes back to you…. the leader. Baby, it’s you.
Enjoy the Shirelles singing Baby It’s You.
Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it.
If you want to really know what being a future-ready firm is all about, read this brief article (via Accounting Today), about Jody Padar’s vision. It explains so much, in a simple straight-forward manner, of where you need to be heading.
The article focuses on Four Hallmarks:
Many of you are so busy doing the work that you don’t have time to do the things the client really needs – consulting, mentoring and business advisory services.
Firms try to insert new tools into the old process, and then they’ll say it doesn’t work. Of course it doesn’t work, because the model is broken.
“It is one of the most beautiful compensations of this life that you cannot sincerely try to help another without helping yourself.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
A great client recommends your firm to a friend. A well-respected banker or attorney gives your firm’s name to one of their clients (probably along with two other firm names).
The first thing that person does is Google your firm. Isn’t that what you would do? Of course, it is.
Your website must impress them. It must be modern looking and up-to-date and it must immediately give them information.
The goal of your website is to convert visitors into clients. Make it easy for them by having your contact information easily available. Most visitors will immediately want to know where you are located. If you have only one office, put the street address at the bottom of the home page.
Clients and prospects want to see pictures of real people and be able to email them for more information. So, don’t make your email address a mystery.
Many practitioners tell me they don’t list staff emails or use their pictures because headhunters will find them. Headhunters will find them anyway so why not make it easy for your clients and prospective clients to connect with your team members?
Be sure the commonly used social media icons are on your home page: Twitter, Linkedin, Facebook, Instagram, Blog, etc. Prospective clients want to know as much as possible about your accounting firm.
But, remember they want to know how you can help THEM. So don’t make the website all about YOU – communicate how you can help clients save tax dollars, etc. Testimonials from current clients are a great way to communicate the value of your firm.
They might not need me; but they might. I'll let my head be just in sight. A smile as small as mine might be precisely their necessity.