Wednesday, September 28th, 2022

Practice

“Practice makes perfect. After a long time of practicing, our work will become natural, skillful, swift, and steady.” – Bruce Lee

You might know the old saying, “Practice Makes Perfect.” Growing up, I heard it from my teachers and parents. The same applies to your work in the accounting profession. A first-year team member knows very little about tax (and audit). But, they are repeatedly assigned to various engagements, and with guidance, they become proficient. Practice makes perfect applies to all generations in your firm.

Read Adamson Advisory‘s September blog post about coach John Wooden. Wooden believed in old-fashioned practice. Click here to read the post and learn what things Wooden did to increase efficiency and skill.

  • "Nothing will work unless you do."
  • John Wooden

Tuesday, September 27th, 2022

Are You Overworked?

“Mediocrity knows nothing higher than itself, but talent instantly recognizes genius.” – Arthur Conan Doyle

Partners and managers complain that the firm needs more experienced people. Every firm wants experienced people; they are very difficult to find.

Rather than whining and complaining, delegate. Partners, make sure your managers are delegating. That way, you will have experienced people to delegate to.

The old advice still applies – – – Push work down to the lowest billing level.

If you are really honest, you know that some of the client work you are doing could be done by someone with a lower billing rate.

In the CPA world, young people learn by having more difficult work continually assigned to them. Don’t let higher-level people get too comfortable with their workload. Complacency leads to mediocrity.

  • "Jealousy is the tribute which mediocrity pays to genius."
  • Fulton J. Sheen

Monday, September 26th, 2022

Awesome Client Service

“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” – Gandhi

I have often written and spoken about awesome client service. What does it mean inside your CPA firm? Do your older accountants understand it much better than your younger accountants?

Seth Godin recently did a blog post about White Glove Service. Here’s an excerpt.

Good service meets expectations. It is the fulfillment of a promise to the customer.

White glove service goes far beyond that. It is designed to surprise and delight. It creates a connection with the recipient that goes beyond a simple transaction already paid for. It is a signal of care and respect, of gratitude and abundance.

He also mentions that sometimes “white” glove service slips and becomes “gray.” Don’t let this happen at your firm.

I sometimes observe that inside a CPA firm, especially as important due dates approach, the staff (and partners) complain loudly about the clients being tardy submitting their information. Service might slip into the gray area. Remember, if you make a small mistake (like misspelling their name or getting the wrong address), they think you might be making mistakes on their tax return or financial statement.

I like to refer to the Ritz Carlton motto: “We are ladies and gentlemen serving ladies and gentlemen.”

If you are ladies and gentlemen (and I know you are), get rid of the clients who are not.

  • "Catch on fire with enthusiasm and people will come and watch you burn."
  • John Wesley

Friday, September 23rd, 2022

Help Them Understand

“Without hustle, talent will only carry you so far.” – Gary Vaynerchuk

On my mind this morning is the topic of communication. Here’s a Flashback Friday post about helping clients understand what you are saying. I think this topic also applies to conversations between generations. Gen Z might not understand certain phrases and words a Boomer might utter (and definitely vice versa)!

Have a great weekend.

  • "Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better."
  • Maya Angelou

Thursday, September 22nd, 2022

Another Upside Down-Pyramid

“Chains of habit are too light to be felt until they are too heavy to be broken.” – Warren Buffett

Last week, I wrote about an upside-down pyramid. This week, I want to remind you of another type of upside-down pyramid that we see in many CPA firms.

We have been talking about it for years….. Bill Reeb calls it the Upside Down Pyramid. It’s where partners work and work until they are “full,” and then they push down to managers who work and work until they are “full,” and only then do they push down to the staff. Meanwhile, staff members are sending emails asking for assignments!

It usually comes about because the firm is top-heavy. Read more about it here.

  • "You never know how a horse will pull until you hook him to a heavy load."
  • Bear Bryant

Wednesday, September 21st, 2022

The Rosenberg Survey

All successful companies are constantly benchmarking their competition. They have to know what they have to match up with day-in and day-out if their company is going to be successful.” – James Dunn

I just received my copy of the 2022 Rosenberg CPA Management Survey. Did you get yours yet?

Using the Rosenberg MAP Survey is an excellent way to benchmark your firm’s key financial metrics against your peers and uncover profit-boosting potential.

You can order one here.

  • "If you're not benchmarking your performance against your competitors, you're just playing with yourself."
  • Al Paison

Tuesday, September 20th, 2022

Reality

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

This passage from a book I am reading that takes place in Cold War times inspired some thoughts about managing a CPA firm. The passage:

“You should dream more. Reality in our century is not something to be faced.”

What is reality like inside your accounting firm? Think about it.

  • Do you have some great new ideas but routinely get shut down?
  • Do you feel certain some things need to change, but certain partners block the path?
  • Do you sometimes hear, “We have done it this way for a long time, and it works. Why change it?”
  • Is your technology adequate but not future-ready?
  • Your turnover rate keeps rising.
  • New clients are rapidly coming in, but you don’t have enough staff to serve them properly.
  • Many people inside your firm just seem to be waiting for the “old guard” to retire.
  • You want to attend a great management conference, but you are told it is not in the budget.
  • There are some poor performers, but they are “protected” by certain partners.

You can probably add to this list.

You should probably dream more. Reality in your firm is not something to be faced.

  • "We all have dreams. But in order to make dreams come into reality, it takes an awful lot of determination, dedication, self-discipline, and effort."
  • Jesse Owens

Monday, September 19th, 2022

The Firm Administrator

“It is difficult to bring people to goodness with lessons, but it is easy to do so by example.” – Seneca

If your firm does not have a firm administrator (practice manager), you are missing out on a huge cost savings. The FA does what partners are doing and shouldn’t be doing, you know, administrative and management work. The FA handles all firm operational activities. When a FA takes away most of the partner time spent on HR, financial affairs, marketing, technology, etc., it gives partners more time to be more chargeable (that adds up to a lot!) to mentor young accountants and bring in new business.

The FA acts as a communication link between partners and all other staff. The FA arranges firm activities, parties, and networking events and does a lot of coaching and supervising that turns new hires into professionals.

They are often a listening ear and a problem-solver for minor conflicts among the staff. They are a role model demonstrating professionalism at all times.

I always think of the firm administrator when I see this cartoon via Far Side. Check it out and replace the words border collie with firm administrator!

Invest in your firm administrator by providing on-going learning opportunities. Have them join CPAFMA. To provide them with a mentor/coach, contact me.

  • "Our networking event is total chaos! No one knows when to eat, where to stand, what to... Oh, thank god! Here comes the firm administrator."
  • Rita Keller - via Far Side

Thursday, September 15th, 2022

September 15

“The greater the power, the more dangerous the abuse.” – Edmund Burke

I bet it’s been crazy at your accounting firm leading up to September 15. Some progressive firms don’t allow clients to string them out. If clients don’t “bring in their stuff” until September 13, 14, or 15, the client knows the CPA will not put his/her people through a massive fire drill.

If you are working at a CPA firm that continually allows clients to punish you and the other staff members, it is your own fault.

Someone gave me some advice once, and I will pass it along to you. If you stay in a nut house, you are nuts.

  • "Abused patience turns to fury."
  • Thomas Fuller

Wednesday, September 14th, 2022

It’s On Your Shoulders

“The price of greatness is responsibility.” – Winston Churchill

I have noticed that many firms, during the last few months, have announced the promotion of several new partners. Those new partners might be thinking, “Wow, I finally made it, now I will have people who will help and support me and do what I ask!” That way of thinking, as a partner, couldn’t be more wrong.

Instead of being at the top of the pyramid, partners are actually at the bottom of an upside-down pyramid. You, as a new partner (or as a firm administrator), are holding up all the other people who work at your firm.

Maybe you had a summer picnic or another gathering for your team and their families. Think about all of those people in attendance – adults, and children. You are responsible for them and their welfare. Your firm is the source of financial security for all those people. The success of the firm leads to the success of your employees.

What you do as a partner has ramifications. People trust you and your judgment.

  • "If you hang out with chickens, you're going to cluck and if you hang out with eagles, you're going to fly."
  • Steve Maraboli