“To his dog, every man is Napoleon; hence the constant popularity of dogs.” – Aldous Huxley
Here’s a stress reliever that maybe your firm has not thought of for a Saturday break during busy season. Research tells us that dogs can be a stress reliever. They visit hospitals, etc. Why not accounting firms?
Gray, Gray & Gray arranged a visit by a “pack” of puppies last Saturday. I love this idea – what fun.
I have always believed that the best marketing strategy is how you serve your clients. It’s sort of the the “build it and they will come” mentality.
If your firm wins the reputation for over-the-top client service, your current clients will talk about you and potential clients will seek you out.
This week’s quote from Tom Peters says volumes about the CPA profession:
“Obviously there is a role for marketing, strategy formulation, and the like. But, ultimately, it all boils down to perceived, and appreciated, and consistently delivered service and quality to customers.”
Your competitors can find out what services your offer, what niches you pursue and the names of your employees and rainmakers. They cannot easily judge how you serve your clients. Serve your clients better than your competitors and you will win the race
Service begins with the pursuit of the potential client. It is not about selling to them or “pitching” them, it is a longer process of simply building a relationship.
Jeffrey Gitomer says it so well:
“The relationship is the biggest advantage you have in selling. People want to do business with people they can relate to. Finding out what your customer wants will help you discover your competitive advantage, but this is not as powerful as building a relationship. Coming to work early is a great habit, but may not affect your relationship building skills. The worst scenario is to try to learn a competitive advantage from your competitor. Which came first, the competition or the relationship? The relationship comes first and the sale will follow.” –Jeffrey Gitomer, excerpted from The Little Red Book of Sales Answers
To me, maybe the most important quote for CPAs to take to heart is featured below in my quote of the day section – from Harvey Mackay.
To me, job titles don't matter. Everyone is in sales. It's the only way we stay in business.
I was delighted when the Ohio Society of CPAs asked me to be interviewed for their Spotlight Series. We did a few segments and yesterday they released the one about social media: Social Media & CPAs – How To Get Started & Why.
I hope your firm is taking full advantage of social media:
I have talked about, written about and helped firms implement mentoring programs for years. Still, I am receiving lots of feedback about the lack of dedicated mentoring inside CPA firms.
I contend that mentoring is the foundation of the CPA profession. An older, more experienced accountant guides and teaches a younger, less-experienced accountant. It has been going on for decades. It is how young CPAs have always learned their trade.
Take that basic approach and incorporate more recognition, honest feedback, skilled listening and career advice and you have a mentoring program.
Engaging and retaining talent is a hot topic for the accounting profession. Mentoring can be an important tool.
Experienced CPAs question me…. Where do we meet? How often do we meet? What exactly do I say? What do they expect of me? It will take too much time…. on and on.
Please keep in mind, when it comes to actually implementing a mentoring program, KISS – Keep It Simple Sweetheart. You can actually mentor and guide someone with two words. Here’s how, from a presentation I did for Boomer Consulting:
CPA 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.
More and more CPA firms are facing the challenge of how to effectively manage remote workers.
I hear many success stories of being able to retain talented professionals even if they have to relocate to another city or state…. or even country. Remote connectivity for all firm team members has solved that issue. They can actually do the client work no matter where they are sitting.
It’s all the other things that are troublesome. How do we communicate with them? How do we make them feel part of our daily routine? How do we build the camaraderie that people working side-by-side in an office feel? How to we infuse them with our culture?
These challenges will only grow and expand as we move into the future. There are several software solutions to help reinforce communication, teamwork and share work status. That’s just the first step.
For many years now I have maintained a simple email group comprised of people working daily in a CPA firm that I call my unofficial advisory board.
When I am doing research on a certain topic or if one of my clients has a specific challenge they are facing, I send an email inquiry to my valuable group. I call the group: Advisory4Keller
For example, I have a current question before my group about how, exactly, they are handling scheduling. After I receive responses (I give them a few days), I summarize and share the information with all those who replied. I do not over-use this valuable tool – I don’t want increase the workload for the members of the group! For example, in 2013 and 2014 I surveyed the group 6 to 10 times. In 2015, so far it has been 3 times.
If you are a CPA firm administrator, managing partner or other management leader in a firm (HR, marketing, technology, department head, etc.) and would like to be part of the group, simply email me to let me know and I will contact you. The information, about you, that I need is on my contact page.
The weekend is time for something off-topic, humorous or even weird.
This weekend, I direct my lighten-up post to all of the young accountants just entering the CPA profession. You have such an exciting, challenging and never-boring life ahead of you that, if you focus, work hard and keep your sense of humor, it will give you an enormous payback. Not only a monetary payback but also the satisfaction that you have served your clients and employees well.
You will age and so will your peers and clients. So – lighten-up – and watch this young couple age from their 20s to their 90s – – enjoy the ride because you will be at retirement age in what will seem like a blink of an eye!
Beautiful young people are accidents of nature, but beautiful old people are works of art.
During March, the numerical athletes that prepare your taxes, I’m talking about your all-star CPA, experiences a March madness of their own.
First, there is the March 15th due date (business tax returns). It’s a crazy time hitting that deadline – long hours and hard work. It is immediately followed by the countdown until April 15th when individual income tax returns are due. Those of us who have worked through those busy times, year after year, often call it March Madness.
However, the actual March Madness (NCAA basketball tournament) is somewhat of a relief for accountants because it diverts their attention to something more fun and exciting. When I was working full time in a firm, we always had a bracket contest. A local law firm had a two-day open house during the first Thursday and Friday of the tournament and business people could stop by for refreshments and viewing of the games – plus the camaraderie.
The original March Madness started in 1908 with a boys’ high school tournament in Illinois.
Before our current madness, a handful of teams from Kentucky high schools call the “Sweet Sixteen” drew sold out crowds.
A former Illinois high school coach, Henry V. Porter, first coined the term in a 1939 essay, “March Madness.” Quote: “A little March madness may complement and contribute to sanity and help keep society on an even keel.”
This year, American Gaming Association projects that 40 million Americans will fill out more than 70 million brackets.
Now, to make you smile and lighten up for sure: Urologists reported a national increase of up to 50% in the number of vasectomies scheduled on the days preceding the tournament. (So, they can stay home and watch the games.)
I think you will enjoy the article – be sure to click it above (and lighten-up).
By the way…… I live in Dayton!!
Anything that I felt good about, my mom and dad felt better about. Everything that I did was supported. I think this type of sustenance had a lot to do with me being confident as an adult.
Rita Keller, President and Founder of Keller Advisors, LLC – Membership Chair
Rick Solomon, CPA, CGMA, CEO of Thriving Firm – Deliverables Chair
Carrie Steffen, President and Co-Founder, The Whetstone Group –Marketing Chair
In addition, members shared experiences and insights into issues of the CPA profession. Their perspectives on the most pressing issues for 2015 can be found on the website in a new report entitled: People at the Center of CPA Firm 2015 Top Issues
About The CPA Consultants’ Alliance
The CPACA was formed in 2012 with the purpose of exploring leadership issues facing the public accounting profession and developing and sharing solutions that benefit practitioners. Other insights from the group include the article What Drives Happiness at CPA Firms and the whitepaper CPA Firm Leadership: Communication Drives New Possibilities. The group’s vision is to inspire positive change in the CPA profession by collaboratively establishing tools and content that will educate, motivate and increase the wisdom of current and future leaders. Watch for the CPACA’s next report on CPA firm succession coming later in 2015.
The CPACA’s members are successful consultants within the CPA profession. Members’ expertise includes CPA firm strategic and succession planning, leadership and management, growth, sales and marketing, information technology, human resources, coaching, mergers and acquisitions, diversity, leadership development and more.
For more information about The CPACA, its members and to stay connected, please: