Thursday, December 9th, 2021

Increasing Fees

“Every year, review clients and decide who should be culled.” – Bill Reeb, CPA

If you have been at the grocery store lately you have probably been shocked at the increases in prices. I know I have!

Suppliers and companies are facing more costs of doing business such as increasing wages and benefits for their employees. So have CPA firms.

Some firms are notifying their clients about an increase in fees. It is time to notify your clients about a more significant fee increase this year than in past years.

One of my long-time friends from the CPA Firm Management Association has allowed me to share an example of their firm’s letter to clients, as follows:

Like many businesses, we are seeing rising expenses due to the
pandemic, changing laws, supply chain issues, and overall escalating
cost trends. Specifically, there have been dramatic cost increases
in sustaining our workforce, benefits, software, supplies and
technology.
In order to keep pace with these changes, we will be increasing our
fees. For the preparation of your 2021 income tax returns, our
minimum service fee will increase by a percentage range of 11% –
20%. This new fee is calculated based on the scope of your 2020
work. If the 2021 work includes extra complexities as compared to
2020, the fee may increase by a greater percentage. This shift in
pricing will also come with increased value as we hope to serve as
your financial and tax resource throughout the year.

It is better to let your clients know ahead of time rather than be surprised when they receive your invoice. Now is NOT the time to afraid of losing some clients.

  • "We have to up our game when it comes to managing our firms."
  • Bill Reeb

Wednesday, December 8th, 2021

Rethinking

“Talent is cheaper than table salt. What separates the talented individual from the successful one is a lot of hard work.” – Stephen King

From Alastair Woods of PWC:

“People [are] rethinking what they want from life. With the supply pressures, consumer price inflation and inflationary pressures, there are people looking for ways to increase their income.

“Moving jobs is the quickest way to do this and with many companies in growth mode, there are more jobs around than ever.”

While money is part of the issue for accounting firms, life/work balance and a pleasant work culture are key.

Now, more than ever, CPA firms need to focus on their culture and on clearly communicating the expectations and the opportunities for their employees.

The upcoming tax season will be even a more critical time this year. If your firm has another “rough” tax season, how many people will leave you next summer? Things like mandatory Saturdays during busy season, a long-standing practice in public accounting, is being discontinued by some progressive firms.

Always focus on communicating the exceptional benefits of working in public accounting. There are many! The pay is attractive and the opportunity for exceptional pay is obtainable. Also, life/work balance has become commonplace in public accounting.

It is not easy and there are a lot of factors involved but take steps to make your firm the firm that employees from other firms want to move to.

  • "Hard work beats talent when talent doesn't work hard."
  • Tim Notke

Tuesday, December 7th, 2021

The Reason Your Firm Is Stuck

“To improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often.” – Winston Churchill

The reason your firm is stuck in the past is fear.

I talk about it with my clients and hear about it from many of my contacts working inside CPA firms.

A small group of partners or even one specific partner is afraid of the future. They are consumed by fear and prohibit the firm from:

  • Adopting new software
  • Truly becoming a digital firm (being completely paperless)
  • Admitting that staff can be effective and efficient working remotely
  • Stop the firm from combining offices because they have their own small kingdom/queendom
  • Entering into merger discussions because they know they would not be successful in the larger firm
  • Exposing some staff members to experiences that will broaden their career because the partner want them devoted solely to them
  • And, many more…

It is up to the managing partner, to address these issues and these individuals. It is not fair to the firm to simply wait for the individual(s) to retire.

  • "Your life does not get better by chance, it gets better by change."
  • Jim Rohn

Monday, December 6th, 2021

Purpose

“Profit isn’t a purpose, it’s a result. Purpose is the reason we do the thing that makes the profit.” – Simon Sinek

Surveys tell us that a large percentage of employees don’t feel fully connected to their firm’s purpose, they don’t see the value they create and that their jobs don’t allow them to fully leverage their strengths.

Every CPA firm started for a reason. Every CPA firm continues to operate and move forward for a reason. That reason results in profit.

Many firms are confused about the difference between a mission statement and a purpose statement. The first step to understanding a purpose statement is to distinguish it from a mission statement because each plays a different role in your business plan.

Here’s an explanation from a blog post by WGU.edu that I think will help you understand the difference:

Mission Statement vs. Purpose Statement

A purpose statement is a single statement that defines the reason your company exists—beyond simply making a profit. It also illustrates how your product or service positively impacts the people you serve. Once your purpose is established, you’ll need a series of goals to drive that purpose. That’s where the mission statement comes in.

First and foremost, a mission statement is actionable. It explains the path you need to take to reach your purpose. So, while a purpose statement is focused on the future, a mission statement is rooted in the present.

Unlike a company mission, your company purpose isn’t something that can be completed or checked off a list. A purpose statement illustrates the ongoing pursuit to push your company forward.

It is important to define your CPA firm’s purpose and share it with your entire workforce. Too many partners attend a partner retreat and then do not share the action steps from that meeting in a way that motivates and connects team members to the firm’s purpose, vision, and core values.

Here’s the Lego purpose statement: “To inspire and develop the builders of tomorrow.”

I hope you can define your purpose so clearly and briefly.

  • "Nothing will divert me from my purpose. "
  • Abraham Lincoln

Friday, December 3rd, 2021

What People Think About Their Bosses

“Many people hear your words, but they feel your attitude.” – John Maxwell

Here is a Flashback Friday post from 2019. What kind of leader/manager will you be as you begin your journey through 2022?

  • "If you've gotta think about being cool, you ain't cool."
  • Keith Richards

Thursday, December 2nd, 2021

Changing Your Thinking

“My hope is that when someone has that call to action, they realize that everybody can do something, even if that’s just changing their own thinking. Women have to change the way they think, too. Not just men.”~ Ambassador Melanne Verveer

I think the above quote has a lot of meaning for those working in public accounting.

When I do my communication presentation for CPAs, one of my favorite topics is male/female communication. There is a lot of focus on helping men understand female communication styles and preferences and not quite so much on asking women to better understand male communication.

In the CPA profession, we have asked men to change in many ways so that women can more easily progress in their careers. These men have met the challenge and become amazing supporters of welcoming more females into the former, all-male partner group.

I have observed that some women are almost hostile to “the old boy club.” Hostility gets you nowhere, no matter what the mission.

Men and women in the CPA profession BOTH changing their thinking has moved many progressive firms more quickly forward. It is about respect, trust, camaraderie, and friendship. It doesn’t matter if your are a male or a female.

  • "Building trust begins with an appreciation and understanding of trust, but it also requires practice and practices."
  • Robert C. Solomon

Wednesday, December 1st, 2021

Don’t Hold Back

“Change almost never fails because it’s too early. It almost always fails because it’s too late.” – Seth Godin

Occasionally, I simply reprint an entire post by Seth Godin. Today is one of those days because I believe his message fits CPAs and their teams.

THE LIFEGUARD HACK

Who am I to walk up to someone at a party and introduce myself?

Who are you to start a new project?

Who are they to give a talk on the main stage?

Don’t raise your hand–someone else might have a better question. Don’t ship that work, it’s not ready…

There are endless excuses, comparisons, and reasons to hold back.

Unless…

Unless you’re on lifeguard duty and someone is drowning. In that situation, even if you’re not the best lifeguard in the world, and even if the water isn’t the perfect temperature, and even if you don’t quite remember how to do the latest version of the cross-chest carry… you jump in the water.

Because it’s not for you. It’s for them.

Generosity unlocks doors inside of us.

  • "Anxiety is experiencing failure in advance."
  • Seth Godin

Tuesday, November 30th, 2021

Pause

“Take a long pause, breathe and know that things are happening for you, not to you.” – Ashton Kutcher

You are in a management position in an accounting firm. You might be the managing partner, COO, firm administrator, office manager, practice manager, HR director, marketing director, or technology director.

So many of you are so busy that you rarely find time to pause and consider what you are doing and why you are doing it. It’s possible that you have gone through your whole career just working and living and adopting other people’s ideas as your own.

During the holiday season, it is a wonderful time for reflection. Pause and find time to come to some conclusions about yourself, your life, and your career.

Of course, it is better if you do this early in your career but it is never too late. Accounting can be a wonderful career where you are continually challenged with helping other people. But, is it the right career for you? It has been for me.

  • "The right word may be effective, but no word was ever as effective as a rightly timed pause."
  • Mark Twain

Monday, November 29th, 2021

What Does Your Team Want?

“People have a way of becoming what you encourage them to be.” – – Harvey MacKay

The experts tell us that 79% of workers who recently left their job say they left because of a lack of appreciation.

Because of the serious lack of talented professionals in the CPA profession and a weak pipeline for the future, perhaps you have upped your game and are paying people an excellent salary. That is important.

But never forget something that I have continually written about for years. They want:

  • You to say appreciate them
  • Someone who cares about them personally (mentoring)
  • Recognition if they go above and beyond
  • Recognition if they help others
  • Leaders who always say, “Good morning!” and “Thank-you!”
  • You to listen to them

I love to share Tom Peters’ Big Six:

  1. Hello.
  2. Thank you.
  3. Eye contact.
  4. Fierce listening.
  5. What do you think?
  6. How can I help?

Read more – Here is a great article by Amy Vetter in Accounting Today – Why It Is Important To Thank Your Team.

  • "It's amazing how email has changed our lives. You ever get a handwritten letter in the mail today? What the? Has someone been kidnapped?"
  • Jim Gaffigan

Thursday, November 25th, 2021

Happy Thanksgiving

“I awoke this morning with devout thanksgiving for my friends, the old and the new.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

I am thankful for so many things and so many people in my life. Today, I want you to know that I am thankful to all of you who read this blog daily. I hope it is helpful, in some way, as you manage your way through the minefield of CPA firm management. Happy Thanksgiving!

Most of you have seen this many times. However, I feel a strong desire to share it with you almost every Thanksgiving. At the time, I watched this episode live and now, thanks to the internet, I can watch the clip every Thanksgiving.

Have a joyful day with family and friends and always make time for laughter.

  • "Acknowledging the good that you already have in your life is the foundation for all abundance."
  • Eckhart Tolle