I know that most CPAs firms live and die by email. Most CPA firms also have way too many meetings.
My mission is to bring you new ideas. Some are a slam-dunk. The idea makes sense to you, you discuss it and give it a try. Sometimes, magic happens!
Some ideas are more “out there” for CPAs (like an open office, no limit vacation policies, 3-word performance review systems and so on). Some are WAAAAAY out there for CPAs, thought-provoking things to at least seriously contemplate and maybe even experiment with.
What if you communicated internally in real-time? What if you used a control panel type software that gave you access to all projects (client engagements and other work) and you could see what has been done from beginning to end of the project?
Read about how they eliminated meetings. A meeting is an interruption, usually to find out how everyone is doing on their assigned projects. What if you had fewer interruptions and could continually get more done? You could have a 4-day work week like this tech company.
Then there are the managers. I have long thought that the title manager inside a CPA firm is very misleading. We don’t teach them how to manage. They become a manager because they stay with the firm long enough, doing work they are proficient at. Here’s an excerpt from the article: “Lastly, we determined over a year ago that we wanted to work without managers. Now we do not need someone to control our progress, because everything is online and visible to all of our workmates — which project we are working on, how we are handling it technically, how long it is taking us, what resources we are using, and what results we have achieved.”
Just contemplate what pieces of this, or variations of this, might just fly inside your progressive firm.
There is surely nothing quite so useless as doing with great efficiency what should not be done at all.
I work with CPAs and their firms. I visit many, many CPA firm websites on a continual basis. For many, it is definitely time to rebrand.
My clients and other CPAs I meet ask me, “What are other firms doing?” or “Can you give me a good example?”. Thanks to my friends at LBMC, headquartered in Brentwood, Tennessee, I can.
Here is a video about their new rebranding project.
LBMC is a very large firm and can afford to spend a lot more money than many other firms. That’s no excuse for you not to consider rebranding. You can do it! Establish a budget and go forward. It is one step in becoming a firm of the future.
If people believe they share values with a company, they will stay loyal to the brand.
I hope you read Seth Godin’s blog every day. I admire how he can use a few words to say something impactful.
Here’s an image of his website. Clean, simple message: GO. Make something happen. Doesn’t it seem similar to the message I continually communicate to you, CPAs in public practice: Do Things!
Here’s his blog post from August 1 – I hope you think about it.
Yes!, please and thank you
Don’t jerk people around
Here’s a simple marketing strategy for a smaller company trying to compete in a big-company world: Choose your customers, trust them, treat them well.
Bend the rules.
Show up on time.
Keep your promises.
Don’t exert power merely because you can.
Be human, be kind, pay attention, smile.
Not everyone deserves this sort of treatment, not everyone will do their part to be the kind of customer you can delight and serve. But that’s okay, you don’t need everyone.
When in doubt, be the anti-airline.
Key phrases and points for growing your CPA firm: Smaller firms can compete with larger firms. Choose your clients well, don’t just take anyone you meet. Not every client measures up. You don’t need everyone.
Are you a key leader in a CPA firm? Are you an accountant (young or old) who wants to advance in their career and be a bigger contributor? Then, carve out some time in your busy life to think and create.
Honestly, I am very tired of hearing, “I’m too busy!” every time a great idea needs to be implemented in a growing accounting firm. You choose to be busy, sometimes to avoid the fact that things need to change.
When you carve out some time (even a few hours) here are some tips from the article:
Why? – – Getting away is great but without intention it’s a vacation, not a retreat. Ask yourself what you would like to achieve.
Claim Your Time – – Determine what needs to happen to make getting away for a short time possible. Who will pick up the kids and take care of other daily responsibilities? Mark your personal retreat time on your calendar in advance.
Choose your space – – Check into a hotel alone. Borrow a friend’s vacation house or simply go to a library or to Barnes & Noble for a morning. Maybe your could go fishing or walk on a beach and let your mind wander.
Discipline – – Don’t check your phone. Avoid being disturbed by social media, emails or calls.
Ready, set, go! On your mark, get set, go! – – Many of us used these words as children when preparing for a childhood race (I’ll beat you home! Let’s see who gets there first” and so on). And, of course, it has traditionally been used to officially start a foot race of varying kinds for varying levels.
Right now, if you are managing an accounting firm, you need to have “on your mark” and “get set” behind you and be focused on “going!”.
As Erik Asgeirsson, CEO of CPA.com says, “Firms are trapped by their own success. We all know when companies are faced with going out of business, they change pretty dramatically. But if they’re successful, they say, ‘I don’t understand why we need to make investments in change management.'”.
If your organization has not researched what you have to do (on your mark), customized action steps that will perhaps shake-up your leaders and the firm culture (get set) and already marked some of those action steps off the list (Go!)- -then you are facing almost insurmountable odds of surviving into the future.
Involve your non-partner, younger accountants (in most firms that is people under 45) in the process. The AICPA says, “By 2020 many CPA firms will be composed of 75 percent Millennials – yet firms continue to be managed the way the parents or even grandparents of current partners would have run them – that’s a major disconnect.”
Just think! 2020 is not that far away.
To drive change successfully inside the firm, it's very important to be clear on your purpose.
Are you facing several partner retirements over the next few years? If not, you would be rather unusual. With the exodus of the baby boomers from the workforce, many CPA firms face the challenge of valuing their practice for those events.
Last week, I received the latest newsletter from Gary Adamson of Adamson Advisory. In it he describes three steps to valuing your practice. Here are some highlights:
Step One – You need to determine the value of your firm. This is for an internal transition, not a sale or merger. Values are typically higher for an outside deal. There are two pieces to this puzzle – capital and goodwill. Capital is easy so goodwill is where most of the discussion centers. For traditional services, the overall average goodwill value has been about 80% for the last several years. So, don’t always count on one times revenue.
Step Two – This is where you determine how to split up the firm’s goodwill among the owners. You can allocate it based on ownership percentages or books of business (we see this in smaller firms). In larger firms there is a process called average annual volume or AAV.
Step Three – This is the process you utilize to pay out the value to the retiring partner. The majority of firms are paying out the goodwill in the form of deferred compensation. Usually it is over a 7 to 10 year period.
I was very fortunate to be speaking at the co-located AICPA PractTech, Association for Accounting Administration and Association for Accounting Marketing Conference in Orlando during June. One of the best things about it was that I got the chance to re-connect with many of my marketing friends and also attend some of the AAM sessions.
I was delighted to read a recent blog post by Lee Frederiksen of Hinge, professional services marketing, listing his five top observations on accounting marketing in 2015:
Content marketing is rapidly becoming the approach of choice.
Online marketing is more important than ever before and firms know it.
I usually share with people that I am a little weird. Good weird. I think differently than a lot of people working in public accounting and over many years I have connected with others… soul-mates who could possibly be classified as slightly weird. Those are MY people! I love them!
One way that I am weird is that I love to be very busy. When I was working inside a growing CPA firm I especially enjoyed tax season because everyone was hustling, focused, working-hard, no-nonsense and a lot of the daily pettiness disappeared for a few months. We also got to see and chat with our clients more during this busy time. I am pleased when there is no idle chit-chat, time wasted loitering over lunch in the break-room, etc.
Being very busy with lots of priorities makes me happy, however, many of our employees in public accounting find it all very stressful, especially Millennials. You need to help them adjust and cope!
Here’s something that might help, it’s an App called DeStressify. It helps all ages of people but is especially important for Millennials. It offers Millennials 5 ways to cope with work-related stress:
Focus on the present – don’t worry about the past or future, stay in the present.
Reframe the story – If something happens, don’t over-analyze or over-react. Simply restate the facts and remove the speculation.
Learn to let go – Don’t let things build-up, learn to release emotions in a healthier way.
Set attainable goals – Perfectionism can cause a tremendous amount of stress. Strive for excellence instead of perfection.
Do what makes you happy – One of the best ways to decrease stress is to do something that makes you happy. Run, hike, listen to music, wind-down with friends, etc.
I am currently using an App called Headspace. It’s a meditation App. I like it… simple and easy. Be sure to explore other options and Apps that might be helpful – for yourself and for your team.
We live, in fact, in a world starved for solitude, silence, and private... therefore starved for meditation and true friendship.