Archive for the ‘Client service’ Category

Tuesday, June 1st, 2021

Surprise Them

“The biggest room in the world is the room for improvement.” – Harvey Mackay

If you want to retain clients, you need to really get to know them. I don’t mean getting know what services they want and need from your firm. I mean getting to know them as a person.

We have just been through graduation season for high school and college students. Do you know if your clients have a child (or grandchild) graduating this year? If so, did you surprise them by sending a congratulations card to the client acknowledging how proud they must be of their student?

Are some of your clients devoted fans to a sports team? Have you ever surprised them with a coffee mug, a hat or tee shirt for that sports team?

American businessman and author, Harvey Mackay, required his salespeople to find the answers to 66 Questions about each customer. You can see it here.

Maybe it is time for you to develop a similar questionnaire that is appropriate for your accounting firm and ask each relationship manager to discover more about the firm’s clients. Then use it to surprise them.

  • Good habits are as addictive as bad habits, and a lot more rewarding.
  • Harvey Mackay

Monday, May 10th, 2021

How Is Your Firm Perceived?

“There are things known and there are things unknown, and in between are the doors of perception.” – Aldous Huxley

Ever wonder how you are really perceived in your business community?

“Oh, yes… I know Smith, Jones & Company, they are the ___________ firm.”

Try this fun exercise with your entire team during a Lunch & Learn session or at a regular team meeting.

Use the above line.  Insert the name of your firm. Have each person write down a word or phrase that fills in the BLANK.

After everyone is done – share them and discuss them.  How is your firm really perceived?

It could be……

  • They are the auto-dealer firm.
  • They are the new firm.
  • They are the oldest firm in town.
  • They are the audit firm.
  • They are an estate planning firm.
  • They are the innovative firm.
  • They are the old school firm.
  • They are the big firm.
  • They are the small firm.
  • They are the cool firm.

You might find out some eye-opening perceptions about your firm.

  • We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.
  • Oscar Wilde

Thursday, April 29th, 2021

Here I Go Again

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

I have said and written about the following things over and over again for YEARS! The sad part is I continue to observe that these basics of CPA firm management need to be implemented.

  • FIRE CLIENTS who suck up more of your time trying to collect than you do with helping their business.
  • Outplace poor performers more QUICKLY.
  • Update your website so that visitors see timely information that is of IMMEDIATE value.
  • Put partner performance and accountability under the MICROSCOPE.
  • Make it a WIN-WIN for partners who have retired in place to exit gracefully.
  • Spend money on continually educating your people – client service, internal management, and administrative team member. It’s called CPE. Don’t forget the CONTINUING part.
  • Become a MARKETING organization that provides accounting and tax services.
  • Hire a firm administrator/COO who can help the firm MAKE MORE MONEY.
  • Critically assess your PROCESSES.
  • ENFORCE the guidelines, rules, and adherence to the processes OR don’t bother wasting all the time it takes to establish them.
  • EMBRACE change, marketing, technology, social media…..
  • Figure out how your firm can be UNIQUE, different from your competition.
  • Trust only movement. Life happens at the level of events, not of words. Trust movement.
  • Alfred Adler

Tuesday, April 27th, 2021

Having a Bad Day?

“I tried being reasonable, I didn’t like it.” – Clint Eastwood

We all have, what we personally consider, bad days.

I remember in high school the dreaded bad hair day. Things have gotten much more serious than that over the many years I have worked in the CPA world. There were many bad days during each tax season especially April 10th to 15th. Then, all of a sudden after April 15, we had many good days and maybe even some fantastic days as summer unfolded.

Public accounting is like a roller coaster ride. There are many ups and downs. It usually depends on what month it is. Often it happens day to day, depending on what is happening with client engagements or with human resources.

The ups and downs of public accounting life do not usually prove to be reasonable. You can’t always predict what will happen. Much like life. That’s why I identified with the following phrase from an Agatha Christie novel:

“Life is like that! It does not permit you to arrange and order it as you will. It will not permit you to escape emotion, to live by intellect and by reason! You cannot say, “I will feel so much and no more.” Life, whatever else it is, is not reasonable.” – Hercule Poirot

Read the quote again and replace the word life with “public accounting.” See what I mean?

  • Men are rather reasoning than reasonable animals, for the most part governed by the impulse of passion.
  • Alexander Hamilton

Friday, April 9th, 2021

Exceptional Service

“There are no traffic jams along the extra mile.” – Roger Staubach

It’s Friday and time for a flashback post. It is something that I hope you have practiced a lot recently during your busiest time of year. I call it making your clients say, “Wow!”.

To make clients say wow you have to do something unique. Read more here.

  • How you think about your customer influences how you respond to them.
  • Marilyn Suttle

Friday, April 2nd, 2021

Being a Leader

“If you don’t want to be a thief then be on time.” – Steve Keating

Being on time is always important. For a CPA, being on time during tax season is even more important. Sure, you are busy. So are your clients and your employees. Never waste another person’s time by being late.

On March 11th my blog, Always Be On time, reminded you of the importance of punctuality.

This week, I read a blog post by Steve Keating titled, Being on Time Matters. Please read his blog post. If you are too busy now, bookmark it to read after April 15th. With the extended deadline, I hope you will have more breathing room after 4/15.

I enjoyed reading his story about being on time and its importance. I know you will benefit from it, too, if you want to be an exceptional leader at your firm.

  • When it comes to time there seems to be two major groups of people. Those who believe being on time matters and those who believe it matters that other people be on time.
  • Steve Keating

Monday, March 29th, 2021

Pay Attention to Your CAS Services!

“You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” – Wayne Gretzky

Profession experts have been telling you that CAS services are lucrative for you and important to your small business clients. The following is from a Facebook post by Jim Metzler (who most of you know from his many years with the AICPA).

I feel it is important enough to use just as he posted. Click on the link in his post.

From Metzler:

If you don’t think CAS is a game-changer, just read this article. Non CPA competition in non-attest is real and these folks are really impressive. Can’t beat a valuation of over a billion dollars and Jeff Bezos as an investor. CPA continues to be a potential differentiator for us and as a profession, we need to better articulate, communicate and reinforce why the CPA brand is of greater value in this space. Value only exists in the minds of clients and it’s up to us and our professional associations to get the message out there.

CNBC.COMJeff Bezos-backed accounting start-up hits $1.2 billion valuation after new funding round

  • Procrastination is one of the most common and deadliest of diseases and its toll on success and happiness is heavy.
  • Wayne Gretzky

Thursday, March 25th, 2021

Confused Clients

If you’re not confused, you’re not paying attention.” – Tom Peters

This tax season brings unique and never before experienced situations for many of your clients.

Perhaps, they are contacting you, maybe too often with all kinds of questions and concerns. You might even be getting frustrated with all of those questions, some of which you have no answers for!

Why not host a Zoom session for your clients in a question-and-answer format? Keep it informative yet simple. Hit the highlights of what you are seeing and experiencing and let them ask questions. Inform them beforehand of the time limit (yes, because you are busy).

You could host the session once a week for the next few weeks. If you have a huge response, keep doing it. Rotate partners to act as host. Allow 30 minutes and don’t over prepare. If you don’t know the answer to one of their questions, just tell them the truth.

This might lead to less phone calls, emails or texts from clients and show your clients how much you care. Having fewer confused and worried clients is a big win for the firm.

  • Confused? Confusion is good. It's an excellent place to learn something new from.
  • Henna Inam

Monday, March 22nd, 2021

Does Your CPA Firm Need to Restart?

“The biggest risk is not taking any risk.” – Mark Zuckerberg

I have observed that many accounting firm really do need to hit the restart button.

Why don’t they? They are afraid, afraid of losing employees, afraid of losing partners and, generally, afraid of the unknown.

I recently read a great article via Accounting Today about Sensiba San Filippo, one of the largest CPA and business consulting firms in Northern California. Here’s an excerpt:

When you hear “firmwide reboot,” most people think about cutting costs, trimming staff aggressively, and cutting back on travel and client entertainment. SSF took a radically different approach: Essentially, they asked themselves: “Why are we really in business?”

Everyone at all levels of the firm had to address three fundamental questions:

1. If you were a client, what would you want in a CPA?
2. If you were just graduating from college, would you want to work at your firm?
3. If your parents walked into one of our offices, would they be proud of the way they saw people treat each other?

Those aren’t the kinds of questions you’ll find on the CPA Exam or in an MBA textbook, although maybe they should be.

Sensiba San Filippo drastically changed their partner compensation program among other things. They lost partners and employees who were not on board with the new vision. Most firms are afraid to take that risk. Are you?

Read the article here.

  • Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.
  • T. S. Eliot

Thursday, March 11th, 2021

Always Be On-Time

“Soldiers should be minutemen. Punctuality is one of the most valuable habits a soldier can possess.” –Christopher Columbus Andrews, Hints to Company Officers on Their Military Duties, 1863

I bet the people inside your firm have had many conversations about “other” people inside your firm.

One of the most frustrating topics is the person who is always late. They are late for internal meetings (Zoom or in person). They are late for client meetings, for lunch appointments and even for CPE classes.

Their lack of punctuality often keeps groups of other people waiting and wastes a lot of time. In some cases, people just get used to it and don’t even plan on the person to ever be on time. Few people, if any, respect or admire them.

George Washington was known for his punctuality. Once his secretary arrived late to a meeting, and blamed his watch for his tardiness, Washington quietly replied, “Then you must get another watch, or I another secretary.”

I once knew a very high-profile (and very expensive) personal coach who worked with prominent corporate executives and some CPA partners. One of the first things he taught them was punctuality. Monthly calls were established and the partner had to place the call to the consultant. If they were a few seconds late, the coach would not accept their call the they had to pay the session fee anyway – no refunds and it was expensive. Every person I knew who used this coach benefitted greatly from the life lessons they learned from the experience.

Read more about George Washington’s punctuality and other important factors about being punctual here.

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