Archive for the ‘Client service’ Category

Wednesday, May 27th, 2020

Admin – The Super Team

“The strength of the team is each individual member. The strength of each member is the team.” – Phil Jackson

I have always been a strong advocate for the CPA firm administrative team. I have observed that they are often the heart and soul of a firm.

During the last three months I have heard from many firms that the only employees going into the office are the admin team members. They went in to do scanning, take care of mail, distribute supplies, and more. Some firms had drop-boxes outside the office door where clients could drop off their tax information. The admin team checked the drop-box daily and scanned the information needed by the accountants. The firm administrator is often responsible for some technology support activities.

Often, the CPA firm’s admin team is under-appreciated. That is why it made me happy to hear the following story from an experienced firm administrator. I am hoping that you are very proud of your admin team, too.

The admin staff and I have been working at the office all through the Pandemic, and have each taken some well-deserved time off since April 15th. The partners recognized that it was the admin team that was taking the biggest risk AND enabling our entire staff and most of the partners to continue to serve our clients while they all worked from home. I bring this up because for the first time ever the admin staff and I all received a really nice bonus on April 15th to show the partners’ appreciation.

Besides doing the firm administration and helping the admin team, I also help everyone with their IT issues. We have a strong IT infrastructure and an outsourced vendor for network support. This is what got us through the pandemic. We also use CCH Axcess which has been such a blessing. I think other firms that are not in the cloud, or don’t have a good infrastructure to allow their staff to work from home are going to have to ramp up their IT spend to stay in the game.

The reason I bring up the admin staff in this email is – as you know, typically firms cherish their professional staff, and the admin staff is not held in the same regard. This has now proven how essential the admin staff is to the firm! I hope other firms recognize this too!

  • If you want to lift yourself up, lift up someone else.
  • Booker T. Washington

Friday, May 8th, 2020

Flashback Friday – Too Busy

“If you are too busy to develop your talents, you are too busy” – Julia Cameron

Are your clients becoming distanced from you because they are too busy trying to save their business and their employees’ jobs?

While many larger firms are letting people go, I find that smaller firms (the vast majority of firms in the U.S.) are very busy,

Here’s a post titled: I Can’t. I Am Too Busy. Read it and make sure you are not too busy doing the wrong things.

  • Anyone too busy to say thank you will get fewer and fewer chances to say it.
  • Harvey Mackay

Friday, April 17th, 2020

Stale and Repetitive – Flashback Friday

“Repetition doesn’t create memories. New experiences do.” – Brian Chesky

Young accountants entering public accounting are often given the same type of work – it’s repetitive.

They are also asked to work on the same client engagement for several years in a row – it’s repetitive.

Managers often cling to the more challenging work because they need to be productive, too.

Don’t let this happen. Read more here.

  • If we did the things we are capable of, we would astound ourselves.
  • Thomas Edison

Monday, April 13th, 2020

Work Habits of CPA Partners

“Without ambition one starts nothing. Without work, one finishes nothing. The prize will not be sent to you. You have to win it.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson

Many non-partner CPAs and others working in or advising the CPA profession have said that partners work too many hours.

Advisors have been saying for years that your young CPAs won’t want to become a partner because they see the partners setting the wrong example – they work too hard and too many hours.

A recent article via HBR stated that, based on a study, top CEOs of public companies work an average of 62.5 hours per week. CEOs are always on, and there is always more to be done. Think about how that statement applies to your partners, especially the managing partner, the executive committee, etc.

If you want to be a partner someday, keep in mind that you will have two roles, owner and employee. Non-partner CPAs in public practice work with clients. Yes, they have some additional roles by serving on committees or special task forces for the firm but mainly, they help clients.

Partners serve clients and their second job – which maybe should be their first job – is running an efficient, effective and profitable business – the firm. They are paid well if the firm is successful. Their employees are paid well if the firm is successful.

If you are critical of your partners, keep in mind, they are always on, and there is always more to be done.

You might find the HBR article interesting – How CEOs Manage Time.

  • I am focused on the work. I am constantly creating. I am a busy girl. I live and breathe my work. I love what I do. I believe in the message. There’s no stopping.
  • Lady Gaga

Friday, April 10th, 2020

Agreements

“Be sure you put your feet in the right place, then stand firm.” – Abraham Lincoln

In the CPA profession, there are all kinds of agreements – employment agreements, partner agreements and so on. None of these are my favorite.

My favorite agreements are The Four Agreements, by Don Miguel Ruiz.

Revisit them here. It’s Flashback Friday.

  • Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, ambition inspired, and success achieved.
  • Helen Keller

Tuesday, April 7th, 2020

Move Quickly!

“Expect the best. Prepare for the worst. Capitalize on what comes.” – Zig Ziglar

For years I have been encouraging (yes, even nagging) you to improve your billing and collection policies and procedures. Here are a couple of examples:

Pay Attention to Collections – February 2020

Never Be Complacent About Collections – January 2018

The tax deadline is now July 15 but that is not a reason to slow down. It is so important to continue to work quickly, bill immediately and focus on collection.

You are helping your clients face unimagined challenges. You are valuable. Bill them quickly and bill them for what you are worth. It is going to be a year of hard work on behalf of your clients. You are needed.

  • The man is richest whose pleasures are cheapest.
  • Henry David Thoreau

Monday, April 6th, 2020

AICPA Coalition Recommends PPP Applicants Use Gross Payroll Approach in Calculations

“The role of genius is not to complicate the simple but to simplify the complicated.” – Criss Jami

WASHINGTON, DC (April 4, 2020) – For the calculation of the Average Monthly Payroll cost under the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), the Gross Payroll approach should be used for the application, according to the recommendation from the AICPA-led small business funding coalition
. This recommendation was developed in conjunction with the National Payroll Reporting Consortium (NPRC). It comes after the additional guidelines Treasury and the Small Business Administration (SBA) issued on Thursday.

For the calculation of the Average Monthly Payroll cost, we recommend that payroll providers and CPAs use Gross Payroll based on 2019 data versus Net Payroll (defined as Gross Payroll less federal withholding and employee FICA). Neither the CARES Act nor the recent guidance instructs the PPP applicant to exclude federal withholding and employee FICA for the 2019 period. The Average Monthly Payroll cost includes Gross Payroll and the other defined PPP payroll cost elements such as health care, etc.

“Treasury and the SBA have acted quickly to generate this small business stimulus. As key stakeholders in the implementation of the PPP relief, we are collectively working to drive consistency in the interpretation of the administration’s guidance. Our goal is to help produce an efficient application process to quickly get the funds in the hands of small businesses and their employees,” said Erik Asgeirsson, president and CEO of CPA.com.

Mark Koziel, CPA, CGMA, the AICPA’s executive vice president of firm services, added, “Based upon statements from members of Congress, it appears that the intent of the PPP was to base the salary calculation on gross wages with no adjustment for federal taxes. This ensures that payroll tax expenses are not passed on to the small businesses in need. In a program of this magnitude, it’s expected that guidance will evolve and terms will be clarified.”

The AICPA also said that its discussions with Treasury, SBA, banks and payroll processors to address these and other issues are ongoing and that it will keep its members, coalition partners and small businesses updated on the efforts to protect Main Street America.

  • I'm full of fears and I do my best to avoid difficulties and any kind of complications. I like everything around me to be clear as crystal and completely calm.
  • Alfred Hitchcock

Monday, March 30th, 2020

Client Service At Its Best

shayna2

“The key is when a customer walks away, thinking ‘Wow, I love doing business with them, and I want to tell others about the experience.’” -Shep Hyken

I know and work with a lot of small CPA firms. One CPA I have admired for years is Shayna Chapman, Founder & Chief Strategist of Shaynaco LLC.

Shayna tweeted the following last Saturday at about 6:00 p.m.

I’ve spent 2 days personally calling every biz client, explaining the new bill as best as I can, preparing them for what will be needed. Also explaining I don’t have ALL of the answers yet, but we’ll work to get them. These have been hard times, but the best conversations.

I know you are busy with taxes. Your clients need more than that right now. It is a time of sailing unchartered waters. Now, and in the foreseeable future, they are going to need more and more from you. It’s time to get busier!

  • Just having satisfied customers isn't good enough anymore. If you really want a booming business, you have to create raving fans.
  • Ken Blanchard

Thursday, March 26th, 2020

Keep Communicating With Your Clients

“Wise men speak because they have something to say; Fools because they have to say something.” – Plato

I happen to be on the mailing list of many CPA firms and I have been so pleased to see how well you are all communicating with your clients.

Now is the time they need reassurance from you. They will need lots of assistance in the days, weeks and months ahead and you are their “go-to” person.

I have assembled some of the communications as inspiration for you. You can download a copy of my compilation of just a few of the emails firms are sending to clients.

 

  • Good communication is just as stimulating as black coffee, and just as hard to sleep after.
  • Anne Morrow Lindbergh

Wednesday, March 18th, 2020

You Are A Star

“It is kind of fun to do the impossible.” – Walt Disney

When you work for Disney all employees are referred to as cast members. Cast members refer to every employee, not just the ones who portray Disney characters.

473CB98A-3331-416C-BE99-D52F25AD638CThis method came from Walt Disney himself. He wanted to create a theme park that was a magical place for all the visitors. To him, each day, the employees were putting on a show, a magical show. It is about managing the guests’ experience.

You can bring this line of thinking into your busy, successful CPA firm. You are the same as Disney – you are providing a service and a wonderful experience for your customers (clients). You want each client, potential client, visitor or vendor dealing with your firm to have the same Smith, Jones & Company experience whether it is the Mr. Big Shot client or the Elderly Lady client.

So, when things get back to normal (after working remotely for a while), walk into the office and remember that you are going on stage. You are a star in your firm’s production. As you work from home, you can apply the same process. You will be talking with clients via phone, texting and emailing them. Let your “on stage” personality shine through.

Later on, help your firm develop some guidelines for the client experience at your firm and train future employees on how to manage the client experience.

Here are some “secret” rules for Disney employees.

  • The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing.
  • Walt Disney