Archive for the ‘Client service’ Category

Tuesday, September 7th, 2021

Subscription Pricing

“You’re going to have to define the kind of customers you want, which is much easier if you’re niched.” – Ron Baker

Ron Baker has been talking about value pricing since 1994. You have read his books and heard him speak many times.

In a recent article, he makes the case for subscription pricing. We are keenly aware of subscription pricing. Many things from Netflix to shaving supplies can be bought via subscription.

Baker says, “It’s what I’m calling Value Pricing 2.0 – the subscription business model.”

Read Baker’s article via Thomson Reuters, titled: “Subscription pricing for tax and accounting services? I know this is a great idea because it scares the hell out of people.

Baker thoroughly explains the pricing model. He also covers how it is better for an accounting firm than traditional pricing models.

As with most things from Baker, I think you will find this very interesting.

  • It always amazes me that some firms have $100,000 clients and yet they have a bunch of $500 clients — that’s insane.
  • Ron Baker

Tuesday, August 31st, 2021

Are You Hiring? Maybe Paro Is The Answer.

“We wanted to create a platform where freelancers could connect with the right client.” – Chad Taylor, Paro

The question in the title is really a stupid question. Every firm I talk to is looking for qualified people to help the firm provide exceptional client service. Some firms are so desperate that they are considering outplacing some clients. That probably needed to be done anyway, but considering not to take on new clients could be a disaster in the making.

So, how will you get through the 2022 busy season? Some firms have turned to Paro to obtain experienced tax and accounting skills. I have talked to clients who use Paro and they were very pleased.

I talked with Chad Taylor of Paro to get a better understanding of how they work. Here is the landing page for Paro For CPA Firms. Paro is a talent marketplace for US-based accounting professionals (freelancers). I learned that not just anyone can join their network – – they have to be vetted. They do test projects and they accept about 3 to 4% of those who apply. If you are matched with a person, you get to meet them and interview them before making a decision. They already have an onboarding process so that they can make sure it is a successful bridge between the firm and the freelancer.

Paro might not be the answer for you but it is worth exploring.

Following is information from their promo material:

The CPA Firm Solution to Staffing Capacity Challenges

What Paro Delivers

  • Highly vetted tax preparers, tax reviewers, accountants & auditors
  • Qualified experts with the precise skills, technical experience & credentials you need
  • Candidate matching in as little as 24 hours, driven by AI technology
  • Account management support to ensure successful project outcomes
  • Comprehensive guides & checklists for onboarding remote contractors

What Your Firm Will Gain

  • Flexible, convenient subject matter expertise to relieve workload compression
  • Seamless onboarding thanks to perfect-fit matching for your needs
  • Highly efficient support from public accounting experts
  • Cost savings compared to underutilized full-time staff
  • Pioneer the future of accounting via remote staff augmentation

  • I really believe that everyone has a talent, ability, or skill that he can mine to support himself and to succeed in life.
  • Dean Koontz

Monday, August 30th, 2021

How Does A Prospective New Client View Your Firm?

“Details matter, it’s worth waiting to get it right.” – Steve Jobs

Those of you who know me, know that I am, and always have been, an Apple fan. I had the first Mac when it looked like a little robot box and of all things, it had something called a Mouse! Our son had an Apple IIe when he was in middle school. I wish I had bought stock back then!

I came across a great article via Inc. A story about a Windows devotee who had an Apple Store experience. Take a few minutes and read it. See if there is something you can learn about client service from the story.

I love this one sentence in the article, “I’m deathly allergic to inauthenticity.”

Here’s the story, “I Spent $2,000 at the Apple Store and Got an Invaluable Lesson in Consumer Psychology.”

  • You have to be burning with an idea, or a problem, or a wrong that you want to right. If you're not passionate enough from the start, you'll never stick it out.
  • Steve Jobs

Wednesday, August 25th, 2021

Punctuality

“Lots of professional jobs require punctuality.” – Suzanne Lucas (@RealEvilHRLady)

Punctuality still matters. Even if you are working a flexible schedule or a hybrid culture, professionals are judged on their punctuality. You ARE a professional.

I’ve blogged about it SO many times:

January 8, 2020 – – – January 18, 2019 – – – March 11, 2021. Do a search on the right side of this webpage to find more of my blogs about punctuality.

Adopt the marching band member commitment, “If you are on time, you are late. If you are early, you are on time.”

Read Suzanne Lucas’ article: Why punctuality Absolutely Still Matters–Even For Remote Jobs.

  • Life's tragedy is that we get old too soon and wise too late.
  • Benjamin Franklin

Thursday, August 19th, 2021

You Are Already A Consultant

“Every great move forward in your life begins with a leap of faith, a step into the unknown.” – Brian Tracy

All the talk these days is about CPAs becoming consultants to their clients and not just compliance service providers.

There are even various training programs to help CPAs make the large leap (I say that sarcastically!).

It is not a “leap” for you. You are already performing consulting services and have done it for years. Partners and managers in public accounting firms have been advising, coaching, and consulting with clients as part of their normal activities.

I see the problem being how you code your time. You record time to Tax when it is actually consulting. Why do CPAs do this when most firms already have service codes specifically for Consulting.

There are two reasons. One, they just code it to tax out of habit, and without thinking that they are really not doing tax work, they are performing “Advisory Services.” Some firms have codes titled, MAS – Management Accounting Services that many partners rarely use. Two, they do not use the MAS codes because they have a higher billing rate associated with those codes and they do not want to charge their clients more for that type of work.

The challenge facing CPA firm leaders is teaching younger accountants and involving them in consulting/advisory services earlier in their careers.

  • It always feels too soon to leap. But you have to. Because that's the moment between you and remarkable.
  • Seth Godin

Friday, August 13th, 2021

Do It Right The First Time

“Fast is fine, but accuracy is everything.” – Wyatt Earp

It’s Friday and time for an informative flashback.

When I first joined a CPA firm, I was amazed by the number of review steps and proofing that happened inside a firm. I soon learned the “ropes”.

Are your reviewers overworked? Maybe if staff were better trained there wouldn’t be the need for so many review steps! Click here to learn more from this flashback post.

Have a great weekend!

  • Accuracy builds credibility.
  • Jim Rohn

Thursday, August 12th, 2021

The Overwhelmed Managing Partner

“The best executive is the one who has sense enough to pick good men to do what he wants done, and self-restraint to keep from meddling with them while they do it.” – Theodore Roosevelt

Not too long ago, I heard a managing partner in a mid-size firm lament that he was overwhelmed with what he had to do as a managing partner. His firm wasn’t big enough for an HR department or a full-time Controller, so much of the administrative management work fell on his shoulders.

This brought to mind the fact that even very small firms need a true firm administrator. I know firms that have under ten people and have a firm administrator in place. One very successful firm (a former client) had one administrative person and her title was Firm Administrator. She did it all! This sole proprietor was freed up to do what he loved to do and what made the firm successful – he consulted with clients in a special niche (what a concept!).

Even in small firms, a firm administrator can take on much of the work surrounding recruiting and hiring. They can handle the renewal of various insurance policies including professional liability. In many small to mid-size firms (headcount 50 or under), the firm administrator (practice manager is now the preferred title), is also the marketing person, the HR person, and the billing person. I refer to these multi-talented practice managers as “working” practice managers because they also process tax returns and financial statements. Obviously, these tasks are mostly handled by an administrative assistant but during peak times the practice manager must pitch in.

Does it make financial sense? Yes. If a professional practice manager can save an MP even 20 hours per month and he/she uses those twenty hours to consult with clients, that would amount to almost $70,000 per year (if your equity partner billing rate is $290 as noted in the Rosenberg Survey). I believe a practice manager can save you a lot more than 20 hours per month.

So, if you are a managing partner that is feeling overwhelmed with admin work, hire a talented, professional practice manager. The CPA Firm Management Association can be a great resource for learning more about hiring a practice manager and managing a CPA firm.

  • Surround yourself with the best people you can find, delegate authority, and don’t interfere as long as the policy you’ve decided upon is being carried out.
  • Ronald Reagan

Tuesday, August 10th, 2021

Four Pillars

“The tower of success stands on the pillars of vision, action, patience, and the character to withstand criticisms.” – Amit Ray

Something that Allan Koltin said in his recent interview with Russell Shapiro is so important for all of you leading, managing, and growing accounting firms.

He talked about the four things a professional service firm needs to replenish every 10 years. He calls them the Four Pillars:

  1. Leadership – Someone who can run the business, manage the firm and provide critical feedback to the partners. This is one of the most difficult because accountants didn’t become accountants so they could become CEOs.
  2. Rainmaking – In this business you either grow or die a slow death. In most firms, founders were able to bring in business but they could only bring it in if they had people to do the work. So, they hired technicians. When those founders retired, technicians were left to do rainmaking and that is a challenging transition. Firms need a growth engine that continues to run.
  3. Technical – This is tax and audit and most can handle this one without difficulty.
  4. Client relationships – It is a people business. Your clients must not only like you and trust you, you must be their most trusted advisor. You are the person they think of first for help making any business decision.

How about your firm? Are you repopulating these four pillars every decade? Have you done it even once? Maybe you are doing one or two, but not all four. Something to think about, discuss and then take action.

  • Opportunities don't happen, you create them.
  • Chris Grosser

Wednesday, July 21st, 2021

Steady On

“Frantic work is never your best work.” – Dan Rockwell

I enjoy reading tweets and blog posts by @LeadershipFreak (Dan Rockwell). His recent one, A Dairy Farmer’s Path to Success, has many good lessons for accountants. I especially liked the following excerpt:

Steady on:

I asked a farmer how he was doing and he said, “Steady on.”

You never see a farmer running around like a chicken with its head cut off. (Apologies to chickens.)

Days are long on the farm, so you pace yourself. Medium speed allows you to work all day.

Frantic work is never your best work.

Read the blog post from Dan to learn more success tips from dairy farmers.

  • The future isn’t predictable. Instead, it’s created by informed decisions, bold action, and agile responses.
  • Dan Rockwell

Tuesday, June 29th, 2021

High Regard

“People who end up as ‘first’ don’t actually set out to be first. They set out to do something they love.” – Condoleezza Rice

I am reading The Pioneers by David McCullough. I love historical books and McCullough has provided many.

Living in Ohio, The Pioneers is of interest to me cause it is about the first settlers that crossed the Ohio River and settled what they then called the Ohio country. It was really part of a larger area called the Northwest Territory where the states of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin and Michigan would thrive.

Manasseh Cutler, a 45-year old pastor from Ipswich Hamlet, a tiny Massachusetts village led the “Ohio Cause” seeking to be able to buy land and settle in this beautiful and plentiful country.

At that time, Congress met in New York. The Constitutional Convention was still meeting. There was, as yet, no President, and Cutler had to bargain with Congress directly to get permission about the Ohio settlements.

Cutler described meetings with many influential people, including James Madison, Benjamin Franklin, and Alexander Hamilton. Eventually, he met with William Duer, secretary of the Board of Treasury.

I am early on in the book but a certain passage brought CPAs to mind. What do your clients think of you? What kind of person do they think you really are? What do your employees think of you, honestly? What would they write about you?

Cutler’s description of Duer:

“He is a gentleman of the most sprightly abilities and has a soul filled with the warmest benevolence and generosity. He is made both for business and the enjoyment of life.”

Of course, for some of you, replace “he” and “gentlemen” with the feminine reference. Then, as a CPA, would people say something similar about you?

Interestingly, there is more to Duer’s story.

  • What does it take to be the first female anything? It takes grit, and it takes grace.
  • Meryl Streep