Friday, December 13th, 2019

Different Policies For Holiday Closings

“The holidays stress people out so much. I suggest you keep it simple and try to have as much fun as you can.” – Giada De Laurentiis

When holidays fall on a Friday, Monday or mid-week, we often wonder if firms are doing anything more than just the one-day holiday.

When it comes to the December/January holidays – Christmas and New Year’s Day – firms differ on what they offer.

I did a quick survey to see what firms were offering this year for Christmas since it falls on a Wednesday.

  • 18.52% – Close only on December 25th
  • 18.52% – Close 1/2 day on December 24th and all-day December 25th
  • 55.56% – Close all day the 24th and 25th
  • 7.41% – Are closing the entire Christmas week

Most firms are just closing one day for New Year’s Day and allowing people to leave a “little early” on New Year’s Eve.

No matter how much time you get off work, celebrate and have fun with family and friends!

  • "Sharing the holiday with other people, and feeling that you’re giving of yourself, gets you past all the commercialism."
  • Caroline Kennedy

Thursday, December 12th, 2019

Why Poor Performers Stay

“Peace is not absence of conflict, it is the ability to handle conflict by peaceful means.” – Ronald Reagan

Some of your team members are not meeting expectations. Some are downright disruptive.

You have been unhappy with them for a long time, usually years. A new employee could easily cover their workload and often at a much lower pay rate. Yet, you do not deal with the situation.

The unhappy employee continues to inject poison into your culture. When asked, they willingly explain that they are not happy with firm leadership but they stay because they love the work, love the clients and the firm needs them.

The real reason they stay – they make too much money to quit. With their performance and work history, they could not easily find another job that pays as well.

  • "The most important thing in communication is hearing what isn't being said. The art of reading between the lines is a lifelong quest of the wise."
  • Shannon L. Alder

Wednesday, December 11th, 2019

2020 Is The Year To Invest In Your Future Leaders

“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” – John Quincy Adams

For many years, I have been a fan of The Growth Partnership’s Partner Institute. This class is a must for those currently or soon to be in leadership positions with your firm.

Here is some information on their 2020 program.

If you’ve been considering enrolling your future leaders in The Partner Institute™ 2020, now is the time to act. There are only a few spots left. Once the class fills up, you won’t have another opportunity to participate in The Partner Institute™  until next year.

This three-year, multidisciplinary program will help your senior managers and young partners develop the personal, interpersonal, managerial, and organizational capabilities they need to assume leadership roles within your firm. For more information, follow the links below.

The next session of The Partner Institute™ begins January 16-18, 2020 at the Boardwalk Inn at Walt Disney World. Reserve spots for your team members by submitting registration and a deposit of $500 per person. Participants can attend the initial course and then decide if the program is right for them. If they elect to continue, we will invoice accordingly.

For more information, please visit The Partner Institute online

or call them at 877-226-0496, or email:

info@thegrowthpartnership.com.

  • "Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other."
  • John F. Kennedy

Tuesday, December 10th, 2019

Field Trips

“Research in education has shown that we remember field trips long into adulthood. I remember visiting the post office in second grade and looking at the sorting machine. I have vivid memories of that when I don’t even remember the name of the teacher who took me.” – Neil deGrasse Tyson

Many people working in an accounting firm never have an opportunity to visit a client site. With technology playing a much larger role in compliance work, team members who used to do what we call fieldwork don’t even do that as much as in the past.

Why not choose one of your best clients, a small manufacturer, a candy maker, even a winery and ask if you can bring your entire team for a tour of their business. Of course, if you are a large firm you will have to work out taking smaller groups to different client sites.

One of the basics of business networking I learned many years ago was to begin a conversation with a business owner, simply ask them, “Tell me about your business.” They love their business. It’s their baby and they enjoy talking about it.

You know your clients well and can easily identify the ones who would love to show visitors around and talk about their business.

I have talked to several firm leaders who have already tried this and it is appreciated by the client and the team.

amazonI recently toured an Amazon Fulfillment Center near Louisville, KY. What an eye-opening and interesting experience. It had four floors and the square footage was the size of 28 football fields!

  • "Only now have I finally realized that my life has been an unending field trip. And I have tried hard not to be a tourist. But to be an adventurer, a traveler, an explorer, a learner, and a pilgrim."
  • Robert Fulghum

Monday, December 9th, 2019

Attracting & Developing Top Talent

“Whatever you do in life, surround yourself with smart people who’ll argue with you.” – John Wooden

Everyone is hiring. It used to be a seasonal event for accounting firms. Now, progressive firms have adopted a plan for continuous hiring. Firms are growing and it is important to hire before you have to.

My questions for accounting firms (and some things for you to consider):

Do you have a rigorous focus on professional development? Maybe this is why there is so much worry about succession. Why not be more generous with education dollars for your younger staff. Of course, you must give them technical training but don’t forget about the “success skills” (formerly known as soft skills) if you want them to become business advisors earlier in their careers.

Have you attracted and retained the smartest people? Young people are drawn to public accounting because they appreciate being able to work with smart, successful, creative, and hard-working people. Do the majority of your people fit this description? Do you keep too many mediocre performers?

Do your young all-stars have vast opportunities? Or, do they have to wait ten years to become a manager?

Do you reward your best performers with salaries beyond being competitive? Or, do you try to get by with the minimum of just keeping pace with average firms?

  • "Success is a lousy teacher. It seduces smart people into thinking they can't lose."
  • Bill Gates

Friday, December 6th, 2019

First Impressions Do Count

“A good first impression can work wonders.” – J. K. Rowling

When we think of first impressions, we naturally think about how we come across to clients, prospects and other professionals in our business network. We worry about how our firm appears to outsiders. Is our brand positive and strong?

First impressions also make a huge difference when we make a new hire. When a new employee arrives, what is their first impression? How effective is your onboarding program?

I STILL hear horror stories.

  • It is apparent to the new hire that the front desk person has no clue who they are.
  • There is a scramble to find where they will actually sit.
  • And, the one I hear most often, there is no computer available and ready for them.

Hopefully, your firm has a New Hire IT Checklist that has been completed and it is part of your Onboarding Manual.

  • "I don't know if you've ever noticed this, but first impressions are often entirely wrong. "
  • Lemony Snicket

Thursday, December 5th, 2019

Communication & Inclusiveness

“Before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself. When you become a leader, success is all about growing others.”  – Jack Welch

To develop an enthusiastic and loyal team it is important to communicate and be inclusive. Firm leaders should be doing this every day.

Many firms take the opportunity to do this on a higher level at least once a year with a full firm retreat, state of the firm event or similarly named gathering. I had the wonderful opportunity yesterday to be part of Kirsch CPA Group’s full firm event in Hamilton, Ohio.

IMG_0878The three partners, John Kirsch, Chad Williams, and Pete Abner each talked to the team about firm performance, future focus and the unveiling of a new training program that will provide each team member with a full-fledged career development plan that is backed up with extensive educational opportunities.

Recruiting and retaining isn’t enough. Now it is about attracting and developing. You want talented accountants to seek out your firm because your brand is a strong magnet for people who want to advance their careers in public accounting.

  • "Become the kind of leader that people would follow voluntarily; even if you had no title or position."
  • Brian Tracy

Wednesday, December 4th, 2019

The Challenge of What Gift to Give Your Employees

“One of the most glorious messes in the world is the mess created in the living room on Christmas Day. Don’t clean it up too quickly.” – Andy Rooney

A very common topic this time of year among CPA firm administrators (and partners) is what kind of gift to give the employees for Christmas.

This difficult task usually lands in the COO/Firm Administrator’s or HR Director’s lap. And, it’s a dangerous minefield. Different generations appreciate different things and finding a “one size fits all” can be a daunting task.

Suzanne Lucas, @RealEvilHRLady, gives us a great list this year. She notes: Here are some ideas, gleaned from real, actual humans, and not marketers. You’ll notice some are contradictory. This isn’t bad editing on my part. It’s reality. Get to know your employees!

Here are a few of the suggestions – but, be sure to read the entire list. Money is always a good choice!

  • My husband’s boss gives his managers steak. We have really appreciated that!
  • If anything, something “consumable.” I don’t want or need any more do-dads. Food is good–a nice bottle of olive oil, a good bottle of balsamic vinegar, anything that can be used and enjoyed and then gone!!
  • $100 gift cards to a nice restaurant have always been my favorite.
  • "Unless we make Christmas an occasion to share our blessings, all the snow in Alaska won't make it 'white.'"
  • Bing Crosby

Tuesday, December 3rd, 2019

My Ramblings About Mergers

“A dream doesn’t become reality through magic; it takes sweat, determination and hard work.” – Colin Powell

You have observed it. In the last several years, many mid-size firms have merged-up into the Top 100 (the AICPA calls this group the Major Firms Group).

The firms in the Major Firm Group have also joined forces to form even larger CPA firms. It is an interesting time in the CPA profession. The big get bigger and many firms I have known and admired for years have disappeared.

An interesting statistic from the AICPA, almost 40% of the Major Firms Group from the year 2000, no longer exists.

This week’s announcement about Skoda Minotti joining Marcum brought all this to mind. Read the press release here. Marcum has had phenomenal growth and success under Jeffrey Weiner’s leadership.

So, mid-size firms are disappearing. However, mergers don’t always lead to a happy life once the honeymoon is over. A lot of the big mergers will result in spin-offs and smaller firms will form and thrive.

  • "I always say, complacency is the kiss of death."
  • Shari Redstone

Monday, December 2nd, 2019

They Are So Much More Than A Receptionist

“I’m just a friendly person; that runs in my family.” -Dolly Parton

The person who greets your client and other visitors is so much more than a receptionist. It is such an important role, especially if you, like many firms, have an office where people feel comfortable just stopping by.

Many firms are now titling their receptionist the Director of First Impressions and that is exactly what they are. Visitors to your office, whether they are a client, a prospective client, a delivery person, an interviewee or a person making a sales call, will talk about your firm. Make sure they are saying, “Wow, what a friendly place!”

Little things make the biggest difference in this area. Does your DOFI offer refreshments? Do they hang up the client’s jacket/coat in a cedar-lined closet? Do they have a menu prepared that lists the types of beverages you have available? Do they engage in small talk in an informative, entertaining and helpful manner?

They are truly an ambassador for your firm. It is not a job that should be looked down upon by other people on the admin team.

If you have an all-star in this role, I hope you are paying them a premium. I know a firm that once won a huge client partly because they liked the way they were treated when their executive team visited the firm’s office.

Read this interesting and helpful article by Jeffrey Gitomer called Receptionist Selling.

  • "We see our customers as invited guests to a party, and we are the hosts. It's our job every day to make every important aspect of the customer experience a little bit better."
  • Jeff Bezos