Thursday, September 19th, 2019

Is This You?

“If in anything I have faith in something you could call the human spirit – I have faith it will always save itself at the last minute.” – Vashti Bunyan

There is a cast of characters working inside every CPA firm. You probably give them nicknames. Just maybe you are one of those famous characters yourself.

The nickname – Last Minute Larry or Last Minute Lisa might apply to more than one partner in your firm. They just simply seem to be unable to manage their clients who are also last-minute types.

Lighten-up, maybe this shirt would be a great gift!

IMG_0715

 

  • "We humans appear on the cosmic calendar so recently that our recorded history occupies only the last few seconds of the last minute of December 31st."
  • Carl Sagan

Wednesday, September 18th, 2019

Dominate Your Suffering!

A due date has passed and another looms on the horizon. Then there is so much to focus on relating to firm management and then year-end tax planning…… and then, and then….. along comes tax season.

To me, most of it was not suffering. I actually enjoyed busy season because everyone was focused on serving the client and they didn’t have time to whine and complain – they were enjoying it, too!

Voltaire wrote:

“Men are thrown into the world to suffer and to dominate their suffering. Life is a shipwreck, but we must not forget to sing in the lifeboats; life is a desert, but we can transform our corner into a garden.”

Can you see how this might apply to your CPA firm? Start singing more!

  • "A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty."
  • Winston Churchill

Tuesday, September 17th, 2019

Deal With Toxic People

“If you put good apples into a bad situation, you’ll get bad apples.” – Philip Zimbardo

I am continually amazed at how many accounting firm leaders tolerate toxic employees.

Over the years, it is one of the issues that I discover inside many firms both large and small. It is the classic case where someone’s work product is fine but almost all of their peers dislike them and even fear them. In some cases, the offender ignores firm guidelines and openly belittles people.

They seem to serve the clients okay, but do you know for sure? Have talented people left your firm because you continually protect the “Attila the Hun” personality type?

Now is the time to deal with it before you get into another busy season.

I have blogged about this topic often hoping it will inspire leaders to deal with bad apples. Yet, the situations still seems to flourish. Here’s an informative article from HBR that might convince you to take action – How One Corrupt Employee Can a Whole Team.

  • "Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not; remember that what you now have was once among the things you only hoped for."
  • Epicurus

Monday, September 16th, 2019

A Simple Thing

“When you meet people, show real appreciation, then genuine curiosity.” – Martha Beck

How do your clients, prospective clients, and other visitors feel when they walk into your office? Do they feel welcome, comfortable and appreciated?

Things that DO NOT promote a warm and fuzzy feeling:

  • An empty front desk
  • A sliding glass window that is closed
  • A bell to ring when you arrive
  • An outdated waiting area that looks like the 1970s
  • A receptionist that doesn’t offer to hang up their coat or get them a refreshment

I once knew a spectacular Director of First Impressions. She did some very simple things to make visitors say, “Wow!” For example, she checked the partners’ calendars every day to see if any visitors would be coming to the office to meet with partners the next day. She would make a sign and put it on her counter for each person, saying:

SUSAN SMITH

WELCOME TO

John Doe & Company

It might be a client, a prospective client, a vendor, an intern, a new hire or someone interviewing with the firm. Everyone saw a visible sign that they were important. The sign evolved into a digital message sign that sat on the reception counter.

There are a lot of little things you can do to show visitors/clients that you care.

 

  • "Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things."
  • Robert Brault

Friday, September 13th, 2019

Working the Weekend

“If it weren’t for the last minute, nothing would get done.” – Rita Mae Brown

It’s Friday the 13th. The September extension due date is Monday because the 15th falls on Sunday.

In progressive, efficient and profitable firms, Friday is the final day, the due date. They won’t be delivering tax returns at the last minute on Monday.

Their valuable team will not be working this Saturday and Sunday.

If you are not in this group, you should strive to attain this practice when future due dates roll around.

 

  • "As you schedule individual tasks, give yourself a cushion. Mark the due date a few days ahead of the actual deadline so you have time to deal with changes or last-minute emergencies."
  • Harvey Mackay

Thursday, September 12th, 2019

Brag About Your Team

“If you done it, it ain’t bragging.” – Walt Whitman

Normally, I would say it’s not good manners to brag. That is not always true.

In the accounting profession, I often find that people DO NOT brag enough!

I especially urge women to “toot your own horn” because men tend to do it much more often than women. Be proud of what you have accomplished.

When it comes to your team, let them know they are very valuable to the firm. One way you can do this is to have a brag book in your lobby.

I am sure you have received compliments from clients about your team members. Some clients even send a letter to the firm communicating their appreciation of the people they work with at your firm. Maybe they send a personal email to individual partners about the good work done by the team.

Make it a project to gather all these types of compliments (in writing), print them out and make a scrapbook to put in your lobby. Give it a fancy cover and title. You might be surprised how many people will look at it. Even co-workers don’t often hear about these kinds of compliments.

Another way is to have the video screen in your lobby scroll through pictures of the team with quotes extracted from communications from clients. Such as, “Joe, was such a pleasure to work with.”

Why not do both… paper and digital communication that you are so proud of your team and want to brag about them.

  • "Bragging is not an attractive trait, but let's be hones. A man who catches a big fish doesn't go home through an alley."
  • Ann Landers

Wednesday, September 11th, 2019

Become a Chief Retention Officer

“People don’t leave bad companies, they leave bad managers.” – Marcus Buckingham

One way to solve the problem of finding and hiring top talent is to be sure you don’t lose the top talent you already have.

You are well aware of the time, effort and dollars you spend trying to find and hire a qualified candidate. That is why it just makes sense to focus on making all partners and managers Chief Retention Officers.

How do you do that? Have them all read First, Break All the Rules by Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman. The authors contend that employees leave managers, not companies. I strongly believe that this is the case in CPA firms. Buckingham and Coffman offer 12 questions that can be used to measure the core elements needed to attract, develop and retain the next generation of CPA firm leaders.

The questions are:

1. Do I know what is expected of me at work?
2. Do I have the materials and equipment I need to do my work right?
3. At work, do I have the opportunity to do what I do best every day?
4. In the last seven days, have I received recognition or praise for doing good work?
5. Does my supervisor, or someone at work, seem to care about me as a person?
6. Is there someone at work who encourages both my personal and my career development?
7. At work, do my opinions seem to count?
8. Does the mission/purpose of my company make me feel my job is important?
9. Are my co-workers committed to doing quality work?
10. Do I have a best friend at work?
11. In the last six months, has someone at work talked to me about my progress?
12. This last year, have I had opportunities at work to learn and grow?

After this fall busy season is over, equip your leaders with these questions and have them meet and talk with the people they supervise. In addition to the questions, be sure your partners/managers can describe what a talented professional’s career path looks like.

  • "Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, your will be successful."
  • Albert Schweitzer

Tuesday, September 10th, 2019

Stress-Filled Days

Working in public accounting means you absolutely have days that are very stressful. You are chained to due dates and another major one is on the near horizon. The pressure is on everyone at all levels inside the firm. However, the firm administrator usually has “it” coming at them from all directions.

As the Firm Administrator, other people are constantly asking you questions. Your email box is filled with messages that actually require action. Several people have valid questions about HR topics. Everyone wants to know the status of tax returns. Your admin team is doing their best to be responsive to the accountants as the due date nears yet they have complaints and sometimes difficulties working together. Seems like there is always a line of people outside your office door.

Then there are the partners. Each one seems to think that his/her clients are the most important and the most in need of immediate attention. The staff juggles the work and often becomes confused because of conflicting priorities.

That’s why, when I recently read this quote by William Shakespeare, I thought of you!

“Hell is empty and all the devils are here.” – William Shakespeare, The Tempest

  • "Fair is foul, and foul is fair: Hover through the fog and filthy air."
  • Shakespeare

Monday, September 9th, 2019

Transparency

“A lack of transparency results in distrust and a deep sense of insecurity.” – Dalai Lama

A couple of basics that your staff desires are inclusion and transparency. They want to know about and be included in what is discussed behind-closed-doors in the partner meetings.

To attract and keep top talent, you need to figure out how to inform and involve them.

Daniel Hood of Accounting Today recently wrote a very informative article – 10 Staff Questions Firms Should Answer Right Now.

Here are the 10 Questions – be sure to read the article to learn more about each one. These are IMPORTANT questions!

  1. How is the firm doing?
  2. What is the firm doing?
  3. What does this mean for me?
  4. What can I do here?
  5. Hoe do I do that
  6. What does a partner make?
  7. How long does it take to make partner?
  8. Will the firm be around in 10 years?
  9. What will it look like? Can I make a suggestion?
  • "Speak the truth. Transparency breeds legitimacy."
  • John Maxwell

Friday, September 6th, 2019

Salaries For CPAs

“Waste your money and you’re only out of money, but waste your time and you’ve lost a part of your life.” – Michael Leboeuf

CPAs are accountants but not all accountants are CPAs. There is a big difference and there is also a difference in what kind of salaries are paid to CPAs.

I receive many questions about what kind of salaries firms are paying their employees. Entry-level salaries are always of great interest to CPA firm leaders. Many are wondering what they need to offer to next year’s graduates. Entry-level accountants intending to become CPAs should also realize that their starting salary is “just a drop in the bucket” in relation to what their future earnings can become.

Thanks to Accounting Today, here is a good visual – read the full article here.

salary range

  • "Financial peace isn't the acquisition of stuff. It's learning to live on less than you make, so you can give money back and have money to invest. You can't win until you do this."
  • Dave Ramsey