Archive for the ‘Client service’ Category

Wednesday, October 21st, 2020

Being Visible

“The power of visibility can never be underestimated.” – Margaret Cho

I have written often about the importance of branding and how being visible helps build your firm brand and it is also how you build your personal brand.

Here is a link that will take you to a search I did on my blog for stories about brands and rebranding. You might want to read some of them.

This year has been a difficult year for branding and personal visibility. You haven’t attended Rotary meetings, you haven’t seen many clients face-to-face even though some of you are lifting the “no clients in the office ban.”

Many of you have done a great job of keeping your clients informed, especially on the PPP topic.

For your firm: Keep sending all clients informational emails and doing timely blog posts about current issues. They count on you for this information.

For your personal branding: Tell stories on your firm Facebook page about various partners and other team members. Send more personal, individual emails to your assigned clients (whether you are a partner or a staff person working on a client’s engagement).

Share your personal Facebook page with some clients (if you are sure it is appropriate). They just might be interested in what you are doing with your life during these unique times.

Do more than just use the phone – let your clients talk to you often via Zoom, Skype other video channels.

Being visible is a great way to build your brand. Visible is just different for the time being.

  • Out of sight, out of mind. The absent are always in the wrong."
  • Thomas a Kempis

Monday, October 19th, 2020

Distracted

“All distracted leaders are ineffective.” – Dan Rockwell

Are any of the leaders in your CPA firm distracted? This might be a very touchy subject among the leadership group.

Of course, all people working in accounting firms have had to fight the distraction battle in 2020. As you have read (and experienced), working from home has resulted in an abundance of distractions.

Today, I am talking about your partner group and the outside distractions they may be facing (or allowing) that divert their attention from effective firm management and client service.

Does your partner agreements cover the fact that partners might be distracted (hampered from working) due to personal illness?

Perhaps a partner’s spouse has a serious illness yet the partner continues to try to work yet client service suffers and staff complain that the partner is not available or responding to questions.

Do your partners have outside interests/investments, like real estate activities or separate personal businesses that distract them during business hours on a regular basis?

I always advise, “Keep your eye on the ball.” Or, “Don’t kill the golden goose.” A successful and profitable firm can change course when owners are distracted.

Read the above quote again.

  • An addiction to distraction is the end of your creative production.
  • Robin Sharma

Thursday, October 15th, 2020

October 15

“This isn’t a hospital! It’s an insane asylum! And it’s your fault!” – – Sally Kellerman (Hot Lips) in MASH (1970).  Substitute the word firm for hospital.

For many CPA firms, you are down to the wire on extended individual income tax returns and all of the activity that surrounds that huge event.

Clients were late providing their information while still expecting immediate attention. They are often just plain rude to your Director of First Impressions. Partners have high expectations of the tax team, partners and the tax team have almost unreasonable expectations of the administrative team. Yet, you all pull through and give the best service possible.

Happy October 15th!

  • Be sincere; be brief; be seated.
  • Franklin D. Roosevelt

Wednesday, October 7th, 2020

A Title Doesn’t Make You a Leader

“Leadership is personal, not positional.” -Skip Prichard

There is a young staff accountant who is always pleasant, polite, positive, and punctual. He sets a great example for his peers.

There is the senior accountant who seems to be the one staff person who cares about the first-year accountants and goes out of her way to make them feel welcome, gives good feedback and does not make them feel stupid!

There is the Director of First Impressions. She is always smiling. She makes callers and visitors feel special when they call or visit the firm. She offers them refreshments and is a skilled conversationalist. Her positive personality affects everyone working at the firm.

These people are not partners or managers. They are not classified as leaders, yet they are definitely demonstrating their leadership abilities.

  • To establish yourself in the world a person must do all they can to appear already established.
  • Francois de La Rochefoucauld

Wednesday, September 16th, 2020

The Day After

Thinking is the hardest work there is, which is probably the reason so few engage in it. ~ Henry Ford

September 15th has come and gone. As you know it is a major due date for the CPA profession.

This year the due dates have been rather unusual but you all still felt the pressure of the September due date and there is still one on the horizon – the October 15th due date for extended personal returns.

You love what you do but, like most things of value, it requires hard work. I imagine you have heard the poem, First Fig by Edna St. Vincent Milay. It just might apply to you.

First Fig

My candle burns at both ends;

It will not last the night;

But oh, my foes, and oh, my friends-

It gives a lovely light.

  • The only place where success comes before work is in the dictionary.
  • Vidal Sassoon

Thursday, September 3rd, 2020

Your Foundation

“The important thing is that you’ve got a strong foundation before you start to try to save the world or help other people.” – Richard Branson

Does your CPA firm have a solid foundation?

I often talk about the internal workings of a firm as the foundational issues. Do you have effective and efficient processes and procedures as it relates to client service and also how it relates to human resources issues? If there are many different ways to accomplish client work, it cannot be as efficient as having one way, the FIRM way. In too many firms, the way work is completed depends on the partner-in-charge of the client engagement.

Of course, there are other foundational issues relating to the services you offer and the needs of your clients. Those issues are changing. The once-solid foundation of the CPA profession consisting of accounting, tax, and audit is becoming rather shaky!

Joey Havens, CPA, CGMA, is the executive partner at HORNE LLP. He offers us a closer look at your foundation in his article, Five Ways Firms Can Solidify Their Business Foundation via the AICPA, CPA Insider. Take a few minutes to read his tips.

  • Great persons are great because of good, strong foundations on which they were able to build a character.
  • Alfred Armand Montapert

Tuesday, August 25th, 2020

The Power of Thank You

“We often take for granted the very things that most deserve our gratitude.” – Cynthia Ozick

Over the years, I have written several posts about the power of saying thank you.

While I definitely prefer a handwritten note, a thank-you, whether handwritten or by email, is something very special, and often, rare.

One time, I received an email from a friend, a very experienced, professional and effective firm administrator, telling me about a special thank-you she received. It inspired the following “story.”

Anna loved being a firm administrator. She was actually one of the first professional firm administrators in the CPA profession and one of the first members of the CPA Firm Management Association. During her tenure at two CPA firms, while she loved her firms and was very devoted, she received little recognition and appreciation. (Firm Administrators – does this sound like you?)

Rather than continuing in this mode, Anna decided to give another firm a chance before she abandoned the CPA profession. This was a very difficult decision. On her first anniversary at the new firm, here is the email that went out to the entire organization.

From: Managing Partner
To: Everyone at John Doe Firm
Subject: Happy Anniversary to Anna from the Management Committee!

Anna has been here for a year. Hooray for Anna! Things are sooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo much better with her here. Thank you, Anna!! And, yes, we love to drive you nuts, but that is just because we love you so much.

Have you read The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch (the college professor who died of pancreatic cancer)? I highly recommend it. In Chapter 41, he tells of the power of a thank-you

  • If you can read this, thank a teacher.

Tuesday, August 18th, 2020

Do More For Fewer Clients

“If you want to make your dreams come true, the first thing you have to do is wake up.” – J. M. Power

Years ago I attended something called the Accountant’s Bootcamp. If you are old enough you might remember the training that spread across the U.S.A. It was provided by Paul Dunn and Ric Payne. Read more about it here.

The big push from Bootcamp was to distinguish your firm from all others by providing Awesome Client Service that was so awesome that clients would pay much more just to be your client! The process worked if you followed their game plan. Many firms attended, got trained and then didn’t follow through.

I was reminded of doing more for fewer clients by a recent article via Accounting Today written by Mark Fishman titled, Refocusing my practice: Fewer clients, greater revenues. I hope you will read it.

  • Success isn't a result of spontaneous combustion. You must set ourself on fire.
  • Arnold Glasow

Wednesday, August 12th, 2020

Are You Still Selling Time?

“What we care about is the work done, not how long it took to do it.” – Seth Godin

The following is one of those Seth Godin posts that I just copy and share. It is an important question for CPAs. Are you selling results?

Selling Your Time

We don’t pay surgeons by the hour.

And if the person who cuts the lawn shows up with a very fast riding mower, we don’t insist on paying less because they didn’t have to work as hard.

Often, what we care about is the work done, not how long it took to do it.

And yet, some jobs, from law to programming, charge by the hour.

When you sell your time, you’re giving away your ability to be a thoughtful, productivity-improving professional.

Sell results.

  • In a crowded marketplace, fitting in is a failure. In a busy marketplace, not standing out is the same as being invisible.
  • Seth Godin

Wednesday, July 29th, 2020

Client Accounting Services

“If our true intent is to differentiate CAS from our previous bookkeeping services, we need to offer unique services that tie people directly to our firm and create loyalty.” – Bill Reeb

The growth and success of CAS makes me very happy.

I can remember when accounting services (or bookkeeping as some partners always called it), was the very bottom level of the client services menu. Many firms even quit providing these services because they were simply not profitable enough (and new CPAs thought this work was below them). In addition to that, qualified, skilled bookkeepers were more difficult to find than accounting grads.

There is a good article via the Journal of Accountancy featuring Bill Reeb and his observations about the success of CAS. He identified issues that can prevent CAS from becoming successful.

  • The CAS service line leader and their manager are not in alignment.
  • Partners haven’t bought in.
  • The CAS practice is inadequately staffed.

One other problem is that in many firms the entire CAS operation is on the shoulders of just one highly motivated individual.

How is your CAS division doing? Are you giving it enough support? Are you bragging about it to all your clients?

  • A brand for a company is like a reputation for a person. You earn reputation by trying to do hard things well.
  • Jeff Bezos