Archive for the ‘Communication’ Category

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

Thursday, September 15th, 2016

Do This Today

Oh boy, email. It can be so problematic.

I love this quote by Jeff Bezos – “Email has some magical ability to turn off the politeness gene in a human being.”

It’s another one of those busy due dates. During the last week, you have probably been inundated with emails both urgent and irreverent.

Maybe today is the day to send some complimentary emails to deserving people. I contend that you should be doing that every day.

I’m going to make it easy for you. I’ll give you some suggested text that you can just copy and paste it into an email, fill in the name and send.

Hi (fill in name),

It has been a very busy time for all of us. I just wanted to let you know that I have been aware of how hard you have been working to serve our clients. I appreciate it and am proud of you.


Copy, paste, fill in names and send. How hard is that??

  • Gratitude is the fairest blossom which springs from the soul.
  • Henry Ward Beecher

Tuesday, September 13th, 2016

Stuff Happens

“The only reason for time is so that everything doesn’t happen at once.” – Albert Einstein

I used to have a magnetic red sign with bold white letters that stated the title of this blog post (Stuff Happens) except it did not say “Stuff.” It was on the side of a filing cabinet where only I could see it. It helped put things in perspective, at times.

Yesterday, I had some troubles updating my WordPress site and had to go to a back-up (from Sept. 6). Thus, I lost my posts for Sept. 7, 8, 9, 10 and 12 and they can’t be retrieved. If you are a subscriber, you have them via the email you receive. I will try to re-post them from that source.

I pride myself on having a post for every business day. Once in a while, I might miss one day but never that may in a row.

When you have some small troubles or inconveniences, take them in stride. Because, as you know, “stuff happens!”

  • It's the little details that are vital. Little things make big things happen.
  • John Wooden

Friday, September 2nd, 2016

Don’t Procrastinate When Providing Performance Feedback

No wonder so many firms are beginning to explore the option of doing away with formal, annual performance sessions with all of their individual team members.

I have observed that many firms can’t seem to get them done within the publicized timeline. Leaders procrastinate. Something else is always more important. So, they think that if they do away with the once-a-year system it will be easier with fewer hassles. Wrong.

Nothing is more important!

We can’t find people…. We have had more turnover this year than we have ever had…. One of our brightest up-and-comers just left the firm….

I hear these phrases and many variations of the same, day after day, from firm after firm.

Here it is September and you are scrambling to get the formal performance feedback task completed. Your guidelines say that the feedback should be communicated to your team members in June, yet here it is September. And, in all reality, you probably won’t complete the process with everyone until November.

I can offer you all kinds of suggestions on different methods to provide feedback to your team. It can be a formal rating system once per year with a periodic follow-up to check on the achievement of goals. It can be quarterly feedback meetings involving more casual feedback. It can be a simplified Keep Stop Start process. And, it can be a system of continuous feedback that requires better trained and equipped managers.

Whatever your system be sure you fulfill your obligation to do it timely and correctly. It’s not just your millennials that crave feedback, nurturing and support, it’s all of your team members.


  • Only put off until tomorrow what you are willing to die having left undone.
  • Pablo Picasso

Thursday, September 1st, 2016

Firm Administrators…. Keep Your Momentum Going

I had the pleasure of meeting so many talented firm administrators, human resource professionals, and partners when I spoke at the June CPAFMA National Practice Management Conference in Baltimore.

What I most enjoy about these gatherings of “professionals managing accounting firms,” is the positive comments I hear about what the attendees would like to achieve when they return to their own CPA firm. I always advise not to try to accomplish too much right away.  Just select one or two ideas and get busy implementing. Inside most firms, I find that if people try to implement several ideas, few if any of those worthwhile ideas actually get accomplished.

Here’s a great message from Jim Fahey, Past-Chair of CPAFMA about keeping the momentum going after you have returned to your office.

  • Do you want to know who you are? Don't ask. Act! Action will delineate and define you.
  • Thomas Jefferson

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

Tuesday, August 30th, 2016

Too Much Talk – Too Little Action

The partners return from their annual partner retreat. They truly seem very excited and positive about what is planned for the coming months.

In fact, they talk about how things are going to be different. They talk about it a lot. A month later, they are still talking about it. Two months later, they occasionally mention it. And so the talk about the changes that will be made continues to decline until it is rarely mentioned.

As this is happening, the team members are looking at each other and rolling their eyes, shaking their heads and perhaps smiling. They have heard it all before. The long-term employees have heard lots of “talk” for many years.

August is almost gone. How about this year not talking so much about new initiatives and simply go about implementing just a few of the changes that need to be made.

There’s an old Elvis Presley song… A little less conversation, a little more action. That’s what will show your people you mean what you say!

  • A little less conversation, a little more action please. All this aggravation ain't satisfactioning me.
  • Elvis Presley, lyrics

Saturday, August 27th, 2016

Lighten-Up, It’s The Weekend – It’s a Write-Off

You work for an accounting firm. You know what “write-off” means. A lot of people do not know what write-off means or what it is.

Think about that when you are talking to clients and non-accounting minded people. What other phrases or words do you use that might be a mystery to others.

A conversation I overheard years ago…..

Client on phone:  I will not have my information ready, what do I do?

Accountant:  That’s okay, you just need a 7004.

Client:  What is a 7004?

Seinfeld and Kramer are also puzzled about a write-off.

  • For me the greatest beauty always lies in the greatest clarity.
  • Gotthold Lessing

Friday, August 26th, 2016

Attracting The Millennials And Others

IMG_7704“Great vision without great people is irrelevant.” – Jim Collins

Everyone wants to work for a firm that “gets it.” If you can create that special culture within your CPA firm that really understands today’s current workforce, you will be a winner.

While millennials are the focus for most firms, it involves other team members, too. Experienced people will leave firms that are stuck in the past and move on to a high-profile firm with a vibrant culture.

LBMC, headquartered in Nashville, is a shining example.

Be sure you read this article from Accounting Today: The Millennial Riddle.

  • If you think hiring professionals is expensive, try hiring amateurs.
  • Anonymous

Thursday, August 25th, 2016

Saying Good Things

“You have to learn the rules of the game. And then you have to play better than anyone else.” – Albert Einstein

Ever wonder what your valuable team members are saying about your firm? I wonder what they say to their friends. I wonder what they say to their parents. I wonder what they say to strangers. And, I wonder what they say to each other!

You should be wondering, too.

In the most progressive firms they are saying things like this:

I can see opportunity here.

They give me ownership of my projects.

I am encouraged to develop myself technically.

I am encouraged to be involved in the community.

This firm is a place for high performers.

They listen to us, we have influence here.

Early in my career, I was given opportunities to have face time with clients.

When something significant happens in your personal life, you get great support from the firm.

I have the feeling I am involved in something special and not just getting a paycheck.

They empower us and give us control over our own schedules.

I love being involved in our Staff Advisory Board.

When I moved to the area, I found the firm online and submitted an application.

These comments come from two, large, progressive, locally owned firms. They didn’t develop millennial-friendly cultures overnight. More and more firms are finding it extremely difficult to compete for top talent. You have to build the culture, the brand, the vision and purpose and… they will come.

  • Success does not consist in never making mistakes but in never making the same one a second time.
  • George Bernard Shaw