Archive for the ‘Client service’ Category

Tuesday, December 4th, 2018

Attention Small Firms!

“If I am to meet with a disappointment, the sooner I know it, the more of life I shall have to wear it off.” – Thomas Jefferson     

I am delighted to work with many small firms. That means I am often Googling smaller firms to look at their websites.

I am usually very depressed after doing so. Just because you are small doesn’t mean you can’t be mighty!

Please, please immediately devote some time to your website, that is if you want to attract new clients. The most recent one I visited had no pictures, no email addresses, no listing of owners or staff, no social media links. When I filled out the contact section it had an “internal error.” Their URL said “not secure.” – What a disappointment.

Prospects judge you on your website.

  • One's best success comes after their greatest disappointments.
  • Henry Ward Beecher

Tuesday, November 13th, 2018

Get The Right Clients On The bus

“Sometimes it’s the smallest decisions that can change your life forever.” – Keri Russell

I have read all the books that David Maister wrote. Many, many of the things he wrote and spoke about hit so close to home for me when I was working in a busy CPA firm. One of his concepts is memorable for me.

Why do you work for clients you don’t like? As Maister says, you work for clients you don’t enjoy dealing with, but they pay you a lot of money. It becomes “you give me money, and I will do what you want. That sounds a lot like prostitution.”

Every firm is looking for talented employees. Some of my clients won’t even outplace poor performers because they need “bodies.” Scary and short-sighted.

What if you had the very best clients? What if you had clients who always paid on time without reminders? What if you had clients who were all interesting, successful and pleasant? What if all your clients appreciated what you do and realized the value you brought to them?

If you get the right clients on the bus, maybe you would attract more talent. If you get the right clients on the bus, maybe some of your top performers wouldn’t leave the firm.

Getting the right clients can’t be left to chance. You must choose only to serve the clients that fit your Type A profile. Be sure to develop systems where you only serve Type A clients. What does your Type A client look like? Not sure? Work with your partners to define it and outplace client that don’t fit. If you don’t do this, you will continue to attract and attempt to serve the wrong clients. You will end up serving clients you don’t even like.

  • It doesn’t matter which side of the fence you get off on sometimes. What matters most is getting off. You cannot make progress without making decisions.
  • Jim Rohn

Wednesday, November 7th, 2018

It Matters

“If you have to choose between being kind and being right, choose being kind and you will always be right.” – Dalai Lama

Inside CPA firms, the partners usually have the strongest relationship with clients.

Often they even meet and talk with clients. They have lunch together and work on helping the client be more successful. They are doing “consulting” with the client.

Meanwhile, back at the office, there are various team members that work on the client’s engagement. Through the firm’s scheduling system, they are assigned a certain task for a certain client. Often it involves working extra hours to accomplish the engagement.

In progressive firms, the team members do have contact with someone at the client’s place of business but maybe not the owner.

Partners, after you have had a meeting or a lunch with a client, be sure to go back to the office and tell the person (or people) who did all the work behind the scenes how the client is doing and how their work is making a positive difference in the client’s success.

Their work matters. That’s what people want to know.

Better, yet, take a team member along when you meet with a client. It is how they learn to become consultants.

  • When you talk, you are only repeating what you already know. But if you listen, you may learn something new.
  • Dalai Lama

Friday, November 2nd, 2018

Don’t Forget The Administrative Team

“Don’t say, ‘if I could, I would.’ Say, ‘If I can, I will.'” – Jim Rohn

You are beginning to look ahead at next busy season, the one just around the corner in 2019.

For those firms recording time – chargeable and non-chargeable – it is a time when you can use a capacity worksheet to determine whether you have enough people on the bus to adequately take care of client needs in 2019.

It seems firm leaders are always very interested in how many chargeable hours each team members can produce. (Remember, chargeable hours and billable hours are not the same.)

One group that is often ignored is the firm’s administrative team. Yes, your administrative people should be chargeable. If they are doing something that in any way deals with a particular client’s engagement, they should record their chargeable time. They are valuable people providing services that provide value to the client. Let them know you care about how productive (and important) they can be.

  • When something is important enough, you do it even if the odds are not in your favor.
  • Elon Musk

Tuesday, October 30th, 2018

Greeting Your Clients and Other Visitors

“The customer experience is the next competitive battleground.” – Jerry Gregoire

First impressions do matter.

When a visitor arrives at your office and walks into your lobby, do they think, “Wow”? Or, do they wonder…. “Where is everybody?”

Do they see a warm and welcoming, space that sends a message of professionalism and attention to detail?

Do they encounter a smiling Director of First Impressions who seems to be delighted that they have arrived?

Do they see a sign on the counter that says, “Welcome to the Firm – Name of person” on their first visit to the firm?

Are they offered a menu that lists all of the refreshments available to them?

Or, does the firm still have an old school feel when you enter the lobby?

Is there is a very small sliding window that separates you from the person that is supposed to greet you?

Is there no one there to immediately greet you?

Do the furnishings look dated?

Are the magazines old?

And the most depressing of all these things, is there one of those service bells on the counter that is used to summon someone?

  • Every contact we have with a customer influences whether or not they’ll come back. We have to be great every time or we’ll lose them.
  • Kevin Stirtz

Friday, October 12th, 2018

In a Hurry?

Lots of experts tell us that millennials want to know how fast they will be promoted. While I agree that you must be able to explain how a career path plays out at your firm, I wonder if a bit of reality might be in order.

Reading the following quote made me realize what a long journey it is to build relationships, learn, and keep current, on loads of technical issues, become well-known in your business community and also build a reputation as “the expert” in a certain discipline.

“It took me fifteen years to make it look easy.” – Fred Astaire

I am not saying that it should take 15 years to become a partner. I am saying that after you do become a partner you must continue to learn, grow and develop ways to make what you do look easy.

  • Life is not easy for any of us. But what of that? We must have perseverance and above all confidence in ourselves. We must believe that we are gifted for something and that this thing must be attained.
  • Marie Curie

Tuesday, October 2nd, 2018

Plan Ahead & Don’t Disappoint

“Punctuality is the politeness of kings.” – Louis XVIII

Life inside an accounting firm can be very hectic at times. When you arrive at the office, you have great plans for your day and expectations of what you will accomplish.

Then, you-know-what happens.

Suddenly, you realize you probably can’t make that meeting with a client, a team member or an employee. You will just have to reschedule that phone conference with the Chair of a committee you are on at a non-profit organization.

Rather than disappoint and cancel on someone at the last minute, make time toward the end of the week to look ahead at the following week’s schedule. Are you over-scheduled? Can you realistically squeeze in that client visit or meeting with the tax committee? Don’t over schedule yourself. If you must cancel or reschedule, give them plenty of notice.

People count on you. Their time is valuable, too. Don’t be a Last Minute Larry or a Procrastinating Polly.

  • Tardiness often robs us opportunity, and the dispatch of our forces.
  • Machiavelli

Tuesday, September 25th, 2018

John Wooden Methods

“If you don’t have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over?” – John Wooden

I have used many of John Wooden’s quotations in my blog posts over the years and have mentioned his extraordinary coaching methods several times. The best thing is that Wooden’s coaching basketball methods extend to life AND to life inside a busy accounting firm.

A secret to his success, something that you might not be aware of, is one thing: old-fashioned practice, efficiently run, well-planned, and intentionally executed. Doesn’t that sound like how an audit/review should be done?

Things Wooden did:

  • Noted where racks should be placed so no time was wasted looking for a ball
  • Had players practice shooting without a ball
  • How to put on socks
  • Timed his practices to the minute so time was precisely allocated
  • Kept a record of every practice on notecards – so he could determine what worked and what didn’t
  • Had his players repeat drills until they achieved mastery and then automaticity
  • I’d rather have a lot of talent and a little experience than a lot of experience and a little talent.
  • John Wooden

Monday, September 24th, 2018

Hard Worker

“I have no time to waste.” – Jamie Lee Curtis

Are you really a hard worker or do you just spend too much time in the office? When you are there (in the office), are you hustling or are you pacing yourself?

I recently read an interview with Jamie Lee Curtis in Good Housekeeping magazine. I could relate to one response she made – she likes elbow grease – here are some of her comments that might inspire you.

Wash your own car.

A little sweat now will earn you a rewarding rest later. “I’m a hard worker. I’m a hustler,” says Jamie Lee. “I like to invent things, and I like elbow grease. I wash my own car — why have other people do it while I sit on a bench watching them? I want sweat equity. I want it in my mothering, I want it in my marital-ing, I want it in my family-ing, I want it in my friend-ing. You tell me you’re moving, I will show up on moving day. There will be a point where I want to relax and not worry so much about my sweat equity — when I’ve earned my rest.”

Once you have made manager, once you have made partner, are you somewhat resting? Is it below you to fill the printer with paper? Do you clean up your mess at the coffee station? Do you return a client’s phone call within two hours?

By the way, I do not wash my own car!

  • If you have creative ideas and you don’t bring them out into the world in some way before you go, that is a tragedy.
  • Jamie Lee Curtis

Wednesday, September 19th, 2018

Painful Procrastination

“Even if you’re on the right track – you’ll get run over if you just sit there.” – Arthur Godfrey

You continually face due dates. The major ones are painful.

You end up in a fire-drill mode to serve those last-minute clients. Sometimes the fire drills are even caused by you because of improper processes, procedures, and staffing.

Don’t let procrastination become a part of your firm culture and your daily life.

According to a post via Cornerstone University, procrastination can also affect us emotionally. For humans to maintain a fulfilling existence, we must have a sense of purpose and generate ongoing accomplishments. Failure here may lead to low self-esteem and a lack of ambition.

Read the entire post – Delay, Delay, Delay: How to Manage and Overcome Procrastination so it Doesn’t Manage You.

When it comes to those procrastinating clients, share this article with them. Explain how their tardiness has a negative effect on your entire team. Ask for their understanding and help. (It’s called training the client!). If they don’t co-operate, find them another accountant. Life is too short for all the stress these clients cause.

  • Motivation is what gets you started. Habit is what keeps you going.
  • Jim Rohn