Archive for the ‘On My Mind’ Category

Tuesday, May 3rd, 2016

How Many Times Have You Talked About “Added Value?”

“The more you become proficient at stating value in terms of the customer, the more it will be perceived as value by the customer.” – Jeffrey Gitomer

I have mentioned it before but not recently. I enjoy reading blogs and articles by Jeffrey Gitomer. Sure, he’s a sales guy. But so are YOU Mr./Ms. CPA!

Much like Mr. Gitomer, I am very tired of listening to CPAs discuss how to prove to their clients that they bring “added value.” Gitomer says, “I recommend you leave ‘added value’ out of your sales lexicon forever. ‘Added value’ has an evil twin ‘value add.” Neither of which can be defined in terms of what the customer actually benefits or profits from.”

If you think the little extra things you do bring added value, put “perceived” in front of it because it is all about what the client perceives. If they don’t perceive it to be valuable, then it isn’t. Preparing their tax return in a timely manner is not value added, it’s what they pay you to do.

Your clients are looking for THEIR own increased sales, customer loyalty, employee loyalty, increased productivity, profit and so on. If you are not bringing these kinds of things to the relationship maybe it’s time you did.

To paint a true picture for your clients, develop a value proposition and a value statement the clearly explains how you help others.

I bring value to my clients by writing this daily blog, writing my newsletter, sending them personal emails outlining current trends in the profession, recapping content of conferences I attend, tweeting daily about CPA profession leadership issues, personal telephone conferences and many other ways.

Read much more here from Gitomer about value and it’s importance to existing clients and to prospective clients.

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

Thursday, April 21st, 2016

Hear It From Them

“Live your life and ignore your age.” – Norman Vincent Peale

I’ve done many presentations about and written extensively about generations in the workplace. I am convinced that ALL generations better understanding each other, and not putting each other in “boxes” because of their age, can solve most if not all of the misunderstandings inside the firm.

That being said, I do probably focus more on the Millennials. This week, I read an article on the Forbes site by Paul Armstrong. It was directed to marketers and listed three things they need to know so they can better understand the Millennial customer.

10363724_10154114657826535_4176653492470208085_nYou can read the short article and take what you need because the Millennials working in your accounting firm ARE your customers.

The second of the three things was the most important to me because it stressed the fact that we need to hear directly from Millennials so we can better understand what they want and how they feel.

I’ve been guilty. I stand before an audience and tell them what Millennials are like, how they behave (in general) and what they want. I do get much of this directly from Millennials and a lot of it from research, articles, etc. What you really need is to hear it directly from them.

Here’s a quote by an IBM executive from the article:  “I still don’t get how middle aged men on stage can tell us what Millennials want.  Surely we should hear this from real Millennials?”

Rather than listening to us older, non-Millennial male and female consultants tell you what Millennials want, why not ask them yourselves?

Host some roundtable discussions at your firm. Put an older partner at each table with several Millennials and begin gathering information. Ask specific questions and just listen.

You can always survey your Millennials first and then use the results for some lively roundtable discussions.

One of the first things that caused me to focus on Millennials was a statement from a Millennial panel at a conference several years ago. The young man said: “I have an 18-month old daughter at home. Bath time is important to me. At my current firm, I can go home for dinner and bath time and then work for several hours after she goes to bed. That’s why I joined this firm.”

Photo: Lumsden McCormick Facebook

  • Young people are in a condition like permanent intoxication, because youth is sweet and they are growing.
  • Aristotle

Friday, April 15th, 2016

Accountants Are A Total Blast!

It’s April 15th. It’s Friday. Normally, that would be a great thing – tax season would be coming to a close…. but not this year. The government has extended the due date until April 18. For many of you, you will still be working this weekend.

But wait, you should still be in a light-hearted mood, it’s almost over and being an accountant is cool! How do I know it’s cool? Because a Facebook friend shared a flash card from a deck belonging to their child. Yes, to me you are a total blast… males and females in public accounting are certainly cool. Plus, this guy’s pretty cute.

IMG_6491

Tuesday, March 1st, 2016

Leaping

I read a post by Seth Godin yesterday that inspired me to think about CPAs leaping.

“The existing power structure wants to maintain the status quo, and is generally opposed to the concept of leaping.” – Seth Godin

In many accounting firms, this is a common scenario. Actually, I have observed that most accountants – young to old – big firm or small firm, avoid leaping.

Maybe, just maybe, this leap year you can make it a year to pick-up speed, to instigate long-needed changes you have discussed and rediscussed many times. Try making some quick decisions instead of revisiting topics during partner meeting after partner meeting.

Make 2016 the year your firm leaps forward!

  • A great accomplishment shouldn't be the end of the road, just the starting point for the next leap forward.
  • Harvey Mackay

Monday, February 22nd, 2016

The Importance Of Your Career Page

In my continual viewing of CPA firm websites (so I can see how you are doing with that important tool), I have noticed that even in these times of fierce battles for top talent, many firms appear to have let their career page go unattended.

Some observations:

  • Many do not have the Career page as a prominent topic link at the top of the page (where you have About – Services, etc.). Career is hidden under the “About” topic.
  • Many simply have a list of job openings when you select “Careers”.
  • Most do not have a career video.

Now check-out the Career page of PKF Texas, a very prominent, forward-thinking firm that has experienced amazing growth. When you hit their home page you see Careers right away. Arrow-over Careers and you see a list of topics with the first one being:

Why Choose PKF Texas? 

Now, that is an important question! They list the Top 10 Reasons to Join PKF Texas According to Our People.

There are eight topics under the category “Interns & Recent Grads”.

If you want to compete in the war for talent in the CPA profession appoint a Career Page Champion to make your website tell possible new hires a wonderful story about your firm.

  • Hidden talent counts for nothing.
  • Nero

Friday, February 19th, 2016

Don’t Shoot the Messenger

IMG_3660“Shooting the messenger” is a metaphoric phrase used to describe the act of blaming the bearer of bad news.

Per Wikipedia: Until the advent of modern telecommunication, messages were usually delivered by human envoys. For example, in war, a messenger would be sent from one camp to another. If the message was unfitting, the receiver might blame the messenger for such bad news and take their anger out on them.

It can also happen in business. Several, or a few, employees are unhappy about some things that are happening in the firm. Maybe it is about employee benefits, a troublesome co-worker, partner behavior, manager behavior or other firm initiatives.

Your team members suggest YOU talk to the partners. “You” have a way with words and can better describe the discontent that several others are feeling.

BE CAREFUL. Too many times I have had reports where this person, with good intentions, gets branded in a negative way – trouble maker, bad apple, unprofessional, whiner and so on.

So often people will sit back and say nothing when something really needs to be said. So, if your co-workers put you in the position of being the lone voice, you might want to suggest an alternative. Explain that many soft voices are more convincing that one loud voice and that silence is always deemed as approval.

Partners, be sure you are encouraging everyone to speak-up when they have questions, comments or complaints. Be sure to urge people to speak-up in meetings. Make them feel safe. Assure them that you want their honest feedback and that no comment will result in repercussions.

I like to think of anonymous upward feedback surveys as the first step toward total open and honest communication. Strive for a culture where people are comfortable voicing critical concerns (in a non-evil way) in an effort to solve problems.

The same thing applies to partner groups. As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, it is healthy to debate and argue in an effort to come to agreement.

And, by the way, it is also very important to voice good news, compliments and appreciation.

  • By swallowing evil words unsaid, no one has ever harmed his stomach.
  • Winston Churchill

Tuesday, February 9th, 2016

Whiners & Complainers

No excusesEvery firm has them.

When I ask my audiences: “You don’t have any whiners in your firm, do you?” – I get a room full of giggles. At your office, of course you have people who whine. You have people who complain. You have people who roll their eyes at new ideas or even at a verbal reminder that everyone should follow procedures to provide better client service.

I am a Baby Boomer (born between 1946 and 1964). My parents were part of the Silent or Veteran generation (born before 1946). Some are still in the workforce. Here’s a description:

Silents. Silents are considered among the most loyal workers. They are highly dedicated and the most risk averse. Their values were shaped by the Great Depression, World War II, and the postwar boom years. Silents possess a strong commitment to teamwork and collaboration and have high regard for developing interpersonal communication skills. Silents now consist of the most affluent elderly population in U.S. history due to their willingness to conserve and save after recovering from the financial impact of the postwar era.

The interesting thing is, I never heard my parents complain about their jobs. Both of them worked to provide a comfortable life style for my brother and myself. Everything I heard about their work and their co-workers, at our dinner table, was positive.

I never thought much about it then. I think a lot about it now.

In my work I counsel and advise people working inside accounting firms. I have observed that nearly all Silent generation workers are gone. Most Baby Boomers complain some. However, as you go down through the generations in the office it gets worse. GenX and Millennials complain the most.

My parents worked hard. Neither had office jobs. I have always thoroughly enjoyed my work and still do. Yet, as even office work has become easier (more technology, more holidays, free coffee, free soda, free food, free continuing education, casual dress), there is more whining and complaining about work.

  • Intelligence without ambition is a bird without wings.
  • Salvador Dali

Thursday, January 28th, 2016

Blogs To Follow

I am always encouraging you to read, read, read. I want you to read books, articles and, of course, blogs.

If you are trying to find some good blogs to follow. Here’s Ambir Technologies Top 10 Blogs To Follow for Accounting & Financial Tips for Your Small Biz. 

Some of them might be very helpful for your clients, too.

Take note of #10 – Thank-you Ambir!

  • If we encounter a man of rare intellect, we should ask him what books he reads.
  • Ralph Waldo Emerson

Monday, January 25th, 2016

Women In Accounting – Don’t Feel Guilty

IMG_4100CPA firms lose so many bright, savvy females because of the long-talked about stigma that when you want to start a family, you cannot work in public accounting.

Too many young female professionals tend to heed the old-fashioned advice that they should work in public accounting for a few years, get their CPA designation and then get a job in a private company so they can then raise a family. Fewer actually become “stay at home” moms because the millennials need two incomes to live the life style they desire.

So, I urge all young women in accounting, stick it out. The accounting profession is becoming more and more flexible all the time. It is a profession that can provide the career development and prestige that you desire.

Don’t feel guilty if you are working and also raising children. Children of working moms actually reap many benefits because they have working mothers.

According to a survey of 1,000 grown children of working mothers, many substantial benefits were identified

Strong Work Ethic – The grown children reported that watching their mothers go to work every day instilled in them a strong work ethic.

Independence – Working mothers know they won’t be there for everything so they have deliberately taught their children to be more independent.

Resilience – The children of working mothers reported being able to solve their own problems and bounce back from tough times better than children of stay-at-home mothers.

Prepared For The Work World – Watching their mothers face the many challenges at work helped the children feel better prepared for the working world. They have a better sense of what to expect when they enter the work world.

Daughters Benefit Most – Harvard found that daughters of working mothers earned 23% more than daughters of stay-at-home mothers.

All of this and more is in an article on FAST Company by Lisa Evans. She also references a book by Pamela LenehanMy Mother, My Mentor: What Grown Children of Working Mothers Want You to Know. 

Many female CPAs working in public accounting have told me, “The partners just don’t understand because their wives don’t work.”

By the way, my mother was a working mother. So was I.

  • Sweater, n.: garment worn by child when its mother is feeling chilly.
  • Ambrose Bierce

Wednesday, January 13th, 2016

What It Takes To Move Your Career Forward

I love it when I have the opportunity to work with the team members of firms without the partners present.

There is so much they don’t know about CPA firm management and why the partners do what they do. I ALSO learn so much from them and that input enables me to advise the owners on where to focus.

If you are new to the CPA profession and focused on moving your career forward, here’s some tips:

Become a quick change artist – The CPA profession is undergoing massive change. Be ready for it and help others in the firm get ready for it. Be a leader in showing the partners that adapting to change is necessary and that resistance to change can lead to a dead-end street.

Commit fully to your job – Don’t be surprised if the firm continually expects more from you. The marketplace is demanding and being fully committed will lead to rapid career advancement.

Speed up – Clients and partners seem to live in an impatient world. Help your firm improve turnaround time and always operate with a sense of urgency.

Behave like you are in business for yourself – Assume personal responsibility for helping clients. Be thinking how you could cut costs, find unique ways to serve the clients, improve your own productivity and then share those ideas with others.

Manage your own morale – Saddling someone else with the job of keeping you contented and upbeat would be a neat trick if you could pull it off. Sometimes you are treated unfairly. Some managers truly are jerks. As the old saying goes, “life is not fair”. Don’t let poor morale drain away precious energy and destroy your self-confidence. Surround yourself with positive people – stay away from the whiners.

  • If you want light to come into your life, you need to stand where it is shining.
  • Guy Finley