Archive for the ‘Helpful Information’ 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

Thursday, May 25th, 2017

What Else Can You Do?

“Three things in human life are important: the first is to be kind; the second is to be kind; and the third is to be kind.” – Henry James

Recently, I read an article via Fast Company about a commencement address by Neil Blumenthal and Dave Gilboa, founders of Walby Parker.

When they graduated from college, they felt the way a lot of new grads do – extremely well-educated in a narrow range of really specific things.

It’s a lot like that with the accounting profession. You are college-educated about accounting and then you enter public accounting where you are required to earn more education (CPE) about the accounting (and tax) each year.

When do you have time to learn other stuff? Sure, you can do taxes…. but what else can you do?

Blumenthal and Gilboa learned much along the way on their journey as entrepreneurs. I think you can learn from three of their tips

  1. Presume Positive Intent – It’s human nature to presume the worst – don’t do it. Commit to getting better every day.
  2. Speed-walk, Don’t Cliff-Dive – Committing to something doesn’t mean jumping out of a plane without a parachute. Speed-walking is constantly moving forward by taking deliberate step after deliverate step. Conquer fear by minimizing risk, not eliminating it.
  3. Treat Others The Way THEY Want to be Treated – Your business journey is enriched through exposure to a variety of perspectives. Seek to understand different points of view. Treating people the way YOU want to be treated does not always apply, people are complex and different.

One of the things that really impressed me with their story is their focus on kindness. They stated, “Kindness enables success while being the success we seek: a kind world. Let us all be proliferators of kindness.”

If you are not sure where to begin, start with a simple question. Ask yourself, “What can I do to make someone’s life better?”

Read the entire article.

  • No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.
  • Aesop

Wednesday, May 24th, 2017

Summer is a Good Time to Think

“Training your mind to think is a process not just an activity – it gets better over time and through repetition.” – Jennifer Gluckow

Busy season is over. Perhaps, things are just a little slower in your work life. Plus, summer is a perfect time to do more thinking.

I have often reminded you to THINK. I want to remind you again today.

Jennifer Gluckow is an amazing sales resource. You can learn all about her here. She recently wrote about “Thinking About Thinking” and that reminded me of you – CPA firm leaders and CPA firm employees.

How often are you thinking strategically about your business, your sales, your clients, your future? How often are you thinking about your life? I imagine you rarely take time to slow down, relax and simply think (away from electronics of any sort).

Gluckow recommends ways to maximize your effectiveness at thinking:

  • Schedule time on your calendar.
  • Clear your head before you begin.
  • Drain your brain before you begin.
  • Be totally alone.
  • Maybe some music.
  • Create a peaceful thinking place.
  • 15 minutes a day.
  • Write them down.

Read more about each one of these tips in her article here.

  • Thinking: the talking of the soul with itself.
  • Plato

Monday, May 22nd, 2017

Always Strive For Personal Development

“When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.” – Viktor Frankl

Working inside a busy CPA firm you strive for improvement. Improvement for the firm, improvement for a particular department, improvement for a process, and improvement for those you supervise (and even your peers).

Don’t forget that YOU also need to improve. You need to always maintain a personal development plan. The work on self-improvement is never done – it’s on-going.

I get a lot of questions about structuring personal development plans for team members at accounting firms. It’s usually a case where someone is not meeting expectations. But, that’s not the only situation where personal development plans are a benefit.

samIn a recent Boomer Consulting newsletter, Samantha Zerr, Boomer’s Operations Accountant, shares her story about personal development. It was a journey in moving from a job she wasn’t a good match for to a future role that matched her abilities and enthusiasm.

Here’s Samantha’s advice on a personal development plan.

Personal Development Plan

What areas do you need to develop to be future ready? Whether it is in leadership, management, or communication, the steps I took can be applied:

  1. Identify what you do now, and what you will need to be able to do in the future to have the career path you want and help your firm be successful
  2. Identify the skills you need to develop to prepare for your future role – getting feedback from your peers, mentors and coaches can help ensure you’re on the right path.
  3. Identify resources to develop those skills. These might be courses, leadership development programs, or peer communities.
  4. Personal development doesn’t happen by accident. Finding a mentor and coach to give hands-on, one-on-one guidance and creating a plan of action is one of the most important steps you can take to develop yourself for the future.

Read her entire article here.

 

  • A person who never made a mistake never tried anything new.
  • Albert Einstein

Wednesday, May 17th, 2017

Make Them Feel Important

“Good manners are made up of petty sacrifices.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

When your clients, prospects and others call your office, through the main line, do they feel welcome? Or, do they feel interrogated and unimportant?

Many successful accounting firms have adopted a “no inquiry” method of greeting callers. The person answering the phone answers with your firm standard greeting, identifies themselves and puts the call through immediately to the person the caller has requested. That person almost always answers the phone when it rings.

I wanted to review this today because I call a lot of CPA firms. When I reach a firm where the Director of First Impressions “screens” me I really do feel somewhat offended and think “I guess she is determining if I am important enough.” Some not only want your name, they continue and ask, “May I tell him/her what this is about?”

Just to clarify:

  • Whether you like it or not, screening calls puts a barrier between you and your clients.
  • Whether you like it or not, your client feels slightly insulted when they’re asked to state their name and a reason for calling.
  • Whether you like it or not, most clients hate it.
  • Whether you like it or not, many clients believe the only reason they’re being interrogated is so that you can be “out” when they call – – that is, it’s a “nice” way of telling them you’re there but you don’t want to talk with them. Actually, it’s an awful way of doing it and it’s dishonest.
  • Whether you like it or not, if you don’t know who’s on the phone, you have to answer it right away.

Sure, someone you might not want to talk to might be calling. Being a business professional, you can handle those easily by dismissing them quickly and professionally.

Sometimes I feel like most business professionals let every incoming call, whether through their office number or their mobile device, go to voice mail thinking they will handle it later.

Wouldn’t it make your firm stand-out if your professionals didn’t use the phone to dodge calls?

Read more about this, plus learn Action Steps for Phone Greeting via a blog post from October, 2012.

  • Great men show politeness in a particular way; a smile suffices to assure you that you are welcome, and keep about their avocations as if you were a member of the family.
  • John James Audobon

Monday, May 8th, 2017

Delay and Millennials – Not A Good Combination

“Life is like a 10-speed bicycle. Most of us have gears we never use.” – Charles M. Schulz

Think about it. Millennials have always had technology at their finger tips. The oldest Millennials are 37 years old this year. They are not kids and many are your employees and your clients.

As consumers, they do not expect delays. They are used to having access almost immediately to any kind of information via their mobile device. When making purchases, they are used to having their information (profile) “out there” so they don’t even have to spend time entering specific billing and shipping information. It is not just Millennials, we are all now used to speed when shopping on line.

The younger generation is also used to obtaining answers by looking at FAQ pages rather than calling a customer service rep. According to a Desk.com study, 80% of Millennials find calling customer service highly inconvenient.

Consider how this information relates to your accounting firm.

Your Clients:

Much of your current and most of your future client base expect information quicker. They do not want to wait until you can return their phone call – 4 hours later.

How user friendly and interactive is your website? Do you have a FAQ page to help people learn about and understand CPA services?

Your Employees:

Do your employees have to wait on performance feedback? I often hear about firms that have delayed the feedback scheduled for June until November or December!

Do your employees have to wait, maybe a week or more, on review notes that guide them as they work on client engagements?

Do your employees have to wait days to talk to a partner (the partner is out of the office, on the phone, in meetings, etc.)?

Do your employees have to wait YEARS to be promoted? Telling a new college grad that it might take 10 years to become a partner could be quite a shock.

As a partner group, do you table a decision until the next partner meeting… then the next partner meeting… and then the next partner meeting?

Beginning now, explore ways to speed things up at your firm…. or, you will find your firm lagging behind in many areas.

  • The speed of the leader is the speed of the gang.
  • Mary Kay Ash

Tuesday, May 2nd, 2017

All Those Meetings!

“The person who leaves the room without something to do, shouldn’t have attended in the first place.” – Leadershipfreak

After tax season has ended, many CPA firms begin Meeting Season. I am talking about internal meetings.

Meetings to address issues that surfaced during January thru April, meetings about performance, meetings about goals, meetings about whether to buy new software, audit team meetings, tax team meetings, admin meetings, fun committee meetings, staff meetings, manager meetings and yes, partner meetings.

leadershipfreakI love the quote (above) about meetings from Dan Rockwell  (@leadershipfreak).

Here’s Dan’s 10 Commandments of Great Meetings:

Law #1: Thou shalt always declare the purpose of the meeting before it happens.

The most important work of the meeting happens before the meeting. Confusion about purpose is always the result of inept leadership.

Law #2: All participants shalt understand and agree that the requirements of law #1 have been fully met.

Declaring the purpose of a meeting doesn’t mean everyone understands or aligns.

Law #3: Thou shalt meet to make decision, never to discuss.

Law #4: Everyone around the table shalt have a stake in the pie.

Law #5: The people closest to the work shalt talk the most.

Law #6: The most powerful person in the room shalt talk the least.

Law #7: Thou shalt engage in lively debate.

When law #6 is violated, law #7 won’t happen.

Law #8: The leader of the meeting shalt keep everyone focused and engaged.

Law #9: Thou shalt silence big mouths and engage quiet participants, even if it hurts someone’s feelings, .

Law #10: Thou shalt assign tasks to everyone in the room.

I always urge you to never leave a meeting without an Action Plan!

  • Meetings are indispensable when you don't want to do anything.
  • John Kenneth Galbraith

Monday, May 1st, 2017

One of My Favorite Topics – Implementation

“A good idea is about 10% – implementation, hard work and luck is 90%.” – Guy Kawasaki

I have blogged about it often. Why? Because there is such a need for CPAs to do what they intend to do!

I like two word phrases and I use them to describe CPAs when they return to their firm after a management conference or after the partner group returns from the annual planning retreat. Do these two, two-word phrases describe you?

Good Intentions
No Implementation

gary-adamson-598x747Last week Gary Adamson of Adamson Advisory published an article via Accounting Today titled, Strategic Planning Lives or Dies With Implementation.

Here are his Five Keys to Achieving Strategic Goals:

  1. Limit the plan to 3 or 4 key objectives
  2. Select a champion
  3. Set reasonable schedules
  4. Include staff members
  5. Balance day-to-day responsibilities with plan goals

Take a few minutes to read the entire article.

  • Do something wonderful, people may imitate it.
  • Albert Schweitzer

Thursday, April 27th, 2017

Interesting Topics From The New Horizon Group Meeting

marc-rosenberg-2017“When you are in the news business, you always expect the unexpected.” – Helen Thomas

Earlier this month, I blogged about attending the New Horizon Group of CPA firm consultants’ annual meeting. It was held at the AICPA offices in New York.

This year I attended virtually (and it worked really well). Members are: Jim Bourke, Gale Crosley, Chris Frederiksen, Carl George, Angie Grissom, Rita Keller, Roman Kepczyk, Allan Koltin, Mark Koziel, Rob Nixon, Darren Root, Marc Rosenberg and Jennifer Wilson. Barry Melancon graciously gave us a briefing.

This week, Marc Rosenberg blogged about some “pearls of wisdom” obtained from that meeting. Be sure to read Rosenberg’s post here. Some significant changes are unfolding.

  • In the case of news, we should always wait for the sacrament of confirmation.
  • Voltaire

Wednesday, April 26th, 2017

Be Active In Spring Recruiting

“Human resources isn’t a thing we do. It’s the thing that runs our business.” – Steve Wynn

Many years ago, CPA firms didn’t begin their recruiting efforts on the college campus until September. We waited for the students to get back to campus and begin classes and then interviewed in late September into October.

Now, you must recruit, on the college campus, continually. You are competing with the large national firms. They are visible on the college campus every week!

Right now, be sure you are contacting the students on your prospect list before they leave campus for the summer. Stay in front of them.

Now that your interns have returned to campus, be sure you communicate with them before they leave for the summer. Hopefully, you have offered some of them part-time work throughout the summer months.

Be planning for the next campus job fair. Will your firm stand-out from the pack?

Here’s a unique idea from one of my favorite clients. Invite the students to play some putt-putt as they participate in the job fair.

Fluence Golf

  • I am convinced that nothing we do is more important than hiring and developing people. At the end of the day you bet on people, not on strategies.
  • Lawrence Bossidy