Archive for the ‘Culture’ Category

Friday, May 26th, 2017

Increase Your Firm’s Value

“Try not to become a man of success. Rather become a man of value.” – Albert Einstein

There are some very basic things that CPA firm leaders need to do to continually increase the value of their firm. Of course, CPAs must be technically competent, good communicators and committed to client service. You are in a service business, just like a hotel or restaurant.

Beyond those basics, a couple more foundational items are needed to create firm value.

Culture – You (and your partners, if you have some) should devote your attention to creating a culture in which you want to work, providing your employees with a clear picture of acceptable behaviors that exemplify your core values. A culture built around consistent and strong core values will attract people with those same core values. If you discover employees who do not embrace your core values, they should be encouraged to go elsewhere.

Processes – Another foundational item thing you can do to increase the value of your firm is to implement processes, procedures and policies that are well-documented in writing.  This means the success of your firm is not solely on your shoulders and not dependent on just a few people. Having written processes and procedures ensures that you can easily get new employees up to speed quickly.

  • A man who dares to waste one hour of time has not discovered the value of life.
  • Charles Darwin

Tuesday, May 23rd, 2017

Finger-Pointing

“I praise loudly. I blame softly.” – Catherine the Great

Occasionally, something goes wrong on a client engagement. Somebody didn’t follow procedures. Someone talked to the client and didn’t pass along the information. A client phone call got lost in the shuffle and didn’t get returned. The list could go on and on.

When this happens inside some firms, the finger-pointing game begins….. “The manager didn’t tell me I had to do that…. The staff person didn’t do what I told them… I put the client note in the file…. I think admin didn’t follow up…. ” Again, the list of accusations and excuses can go on and on.

In the best firms, there is no obsession with placing blame. Leaders and team members put little emphasis on the past, they focus on the future. They focus on how to fix things so that the mistake doesn’t happen again. They learn from mistakes.

Here’s a motto I want you to adopt at your firm:

Don’t worry about why it went wrong. Just put it right!

  • I pay no attention whatever to anybody's praise or blame. I simply follow my own feelings.
  • Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Tuesday, May 16th, 2017

Can This Be A CPA Firm?

“We are trying to change this old culture to try to sustain our profession for the future.” – Bernie Ackerman, CPA

Quite a few years ago I met Bernie Ackerman and his son, Jason at an AICPA conference. For several years, we would meet-up and talk about their firm, current topics, other firms and the profession, in general.

BernieBernie and Jason have always been, to me, a great two-generational team that had a firm grasp on what they could do to take their firm, BNA, into the future.

Recently, they were featured in the Journal of Accountancy for the very innovative things they were doing. The title: BNA: A Completely Flat Hierarchy.

As the article notes, you might think they were a tech start-up because staffers set their own working hours and never touch a time sheet. All employees get their own offices, starting on day one. There is no path to partner because there are no partners!

While their practices are very unusual in the profession, they are Jasonpaying off in term of recruitment. Jason Ackerman reports that they receive 10 to 15 resumes a week, even when they are not hiring!

Follow the links above to read the article and to visit their website.

I hope this inspires you to create a great culture and a future for your firm.

 

  • The best way to predict your future is to create it.
  • Abraham Lincoln

Wednesday, May 3rd, 2017

Create Turnover – Keep People Moving!

“Accept the challenges so that you can feel the exhilaration of victory.” – George S. Patton

Think about it. Your firm turns people over on a regular basis. I don’t mean that you have people resigning from the firm. I mean they change jobs inside the firm.

They go from intern to staff. From staff to senior. From senior to manager and so on. The best thing you can do is to clearly define the roles in your firm so that people don’t have to leave the firm to get a new challenge or to enjoy a new opportunity.

A warning, you need to be sure there really is a difference between what a staff person does compared to a senior, and so on. In many firms, I find partners doing manager work, managers doing senior work and seniors and staff looking for work.

This summer, explore the options and do your research. Then better define the duties of each level. Once they can proficiently perform the duties of a staff accountant, they can take on a completely new job as a senior accountant.

Spread the word among clients, the business community and on the college campus that there is a clear, well-defined career path in public accounting at your accounting firm and team members don’t have to change employers, lose seniority, start over accruing benefits to achieve it.

  • Managers tend to blame their turnover problems on everything under the sun, while ignoring the crux of the matter: people don't leave jobs; they leave managers.
  • Travis Bradberry

Monday, April 17th, 2017

Just for Fun – Taglines and Slogans

“Semper fidelis” – Marine Corps motto

I think everyone knows who you mean when you refer to the tagline – Just do it! Can the people working inside your firm quickly recite your tagline? It is something familiar to your clients?

Just for fun, here are some famous taglines from over the years. I bet you can remember the company using the tagline:

  • Finger Lickin’ Good
  • The king of beers
  • Because I’m worth it
  • Let your fingers do the walking
  • Don’t leave home without it
  • M’m! M’m! Good!
  • Where’s the beef
  • The ultimate driving machine
  • Got milk?
  • We try harder
  • The happiest place on earth

More fun…. thanks to Accounting Today, I found a list of CPA firm taglines. Many incorporate the words:  Numbers, add, and passion.

  • Beyond the numbers
  • Strength in numbers
  • It all adds up
  • Our strength. Your numbers.
  • The passion to unlock potential
  • Passion works here
  • Turning vision into value
  • Delivering on the promise
  • Your success is our business
  • See beyond the numbers

For even more fun, here are some law firm taglines:

  • We take it personally
  • Solving your legal puzzle
  • Law. Life. Passion.
  • Right there with you
  • Getting it done
  • Results. Period.
  • Unusually good
  • Fewer lawyers. Bigger impact.
  • Small but mighty
  • Ready for trial!
  • We make the complex simple
  • Putting imagination to work

My firm used “Pushing the Possibilities.” How about your firm? I hope you have something catchy!

  • Slogans rarely convince the unconvinced. However, they do rally the troops already on your side.
  • John McCarthy

Wednesday, April 12th, 2017

Your Cultural Norm

“Courtesy is as much a mark of a gentleman as courage.” – Theodore Roosevelt

Sometimes it is the little things that make up what your firm culture is really like.

  • When a client has left a voice message for you to call them back, do you do it right away or procrastinate for a day or more?
  • Partners often short-cut firm processes.
  • When the front desk person is really busy and the phone rings more than three times, does almost everyone ignore it?
  • When the coffee pot is empty, the last person simply puts it back on the burner and walks away.
  • When the printer is out of paper, the next user simply decides to use another printer rather than load paper.
  • When a client is sitting in the lobby, employees pass through and just ignore them.
  • Yes, when there is no toilet paper left on the roll in the wash room, it is simply ignored by most people.

Or, do you really have a culture of caring, teamwork and passion for the firm?

  • Client calls are returned (almost always) within 4 to 6 hours.
  • No one dodges an incoming telephone call.
  • All partners set a good example.
  • Partners and team members never hesitate to pick up trash in the parking lot.
  • Everyone cleans up messes in the lunch room and makes coffee.
  • “It’s not my job” is never even a fleeting thought among the team.
  • Someone occasionally brings in Starbucks coffee and treats for the lunch room.
  • People seem almost anxious to tell outsiders where they work and how great it is.
  • Partners return reviewed jobs within a day or let you know why they can’t and when it will be returned.

Just contemplating, this morning, how firm cultures are built. If you don’t help build a firm culture one will form anyway – on its own – and it might not be what you want it to be.

  • Our culture runs on coffee and gasoline, the first often tasting like the second.
  • Edward Abbey