Archive for the ‘Client service’ Category

Tuesday, November 22nd, 2022

Money

“A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives.” – Jackie Robinson

Certified Public Accountants make a lot of money. Well, in most CPA firms, partners make a lot of money.

I have observed partners who become agitated when they discover another partner made $2,000 more than they did when all partners were making over $300,000 per year. Seems petty. “I only made $327,000, but Joe made $329,000? Why is that?”

As firms grow and expand, the partners continue to make more money year after year. That is if the firm is managed properly.

Simon Sinek recently tweeted: “Focus on money and you will make money. Focus on impact and you will make an impact.”

Making money is part of the game. Don’t forget to consider the impact you make on your clients. Don’t forget the impact you make on your team. Focus on both money and impact.

  • You never know when a moment and a few sincere words can have an impact on a life.
  • Zig Ziglar

Monday, November 21st, 2022

Keeping Your Employees

“Be thankful for problems. If they were less difficult, someone with less ability might have your job.” – Jim Lovell

I recently read an article suggesting ways to keep your best employees. I found it not to be very helpful. It mentioned things we have all heard before.

It suggested:

  • Improve compensation
  • Increase flexibility
  • Evaluate your benefits
  • Encourage professional development

All of the many firms I talk to and read about are doing all of this. I am sure most of you want to know more. What else can you do?

In 2022, I have observed more and more firms are actually disengaging from many clients simply because they cannot hire enough people to take care of them. Quality service matters more than the number of clients.

Add this to the list above – Don’t punish your staff by keeping clients that are ranked C and D. Shrink our client list to keep your best employees.

  • Be happy with what you have while working for what you want.
  • Helen Keller

Monday, November 14th, 2022

Do This In November

“If I cut you off, chances are you handed me the scissors.” – Unknown

I have written about it often. You have talked about it often.

It is time to off-board several of your current clients. Make room for new and better clients. You do this because:

  • You can add some great clients without overloading (punishing) your staff.
  • You can finally divest yourself of those clients that are always a collection problem.
  • You can weed out those C and D-level clients who are always getting their information to you at the very last minute (again punishing your staff).
  • It gives you room to really focus on providing exceptional, unique client service.
  • It would help you identify, develop and define a true, specialized niche, something your firm can become famous for.
  • It helps you work with people (clients) you really like and enjoy, not those you just tolerate.

Now, November is a good time to notify those clients. If you want a sample of a client termination letter, let me know.

  • People inspire you, or they drain you – pick them wisely.
  • Hans F. Hansen

Tuesday, November 8th, 2022

Moving Online

“The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.” – Lao Tzu

Have you ever wondered, contemplated, or wished that you could move your CPA firm online?

It is not for everyone, but I bet you wonder how it is done. Here’s an email I received from Laura Gannon. She agreed to let me share so you can see how client communication could be framed. I have eliminated the many helpful links that she included in the communication, like email addresses, physical addresses, etc.

I hope you find this helpful. Maybe your firm is ready for this BIG step?

Dear Rita,
BIG NEWS!
We are closing our office in Chelmsford after 15 years! This community has been so supportive of us, we will be forever grateful. This is where I started my business, and it has continued to support many local businesses and employees over the years.

In these changing times, we have seen how effective our staff can be working from anywhere, and we want to be a part of this culture shift that’s happening worldwide.

While we plan to be as connected to clients as ever, this will no longer include meeting at the Chelmsford office. Instead, we will use video conferencing and flexible co-work spaces in West Concord and Salem, Massachusetts. We will continue to collaborate as a team and give you great service, as always.

To make this transition as smooth as possible, check out our FAQ’s at the bottom of the newsletter, and don’t hesitate to reach out with any questions.

Thank you so much for being a valued client! We appreciate your business.

Thanks,
Laura and the team!
FAQ’s
How can I schedule a virtual meeting? Reach out to any of us individually, Barry, Laura or Hannah, to schedule a virtual meeting.

Where can we meet in person? We have two conference spaces available for meetings. West Concord – The Wheelhouse – Laura will meet clients here! Salem – Workbar – Barry has conference availability here, and he can use any of their 9 locations!

Hannah will have some ability to meet in person, but please coordinate directly with her.

Staff contact info? If you have any questions about processes or procedures, Hannah is our client administrator; feel free to reach out to her @ xxx-xxx-xxxx or click here to email her.

Where do I send physical documents? We prefer electronic documents scanned into to the portal, but if you prefer to send us the physical documents, please use our PO Box XXX in Chelmsford. Address below. Hannah will scan the documents in and return them to you when complete.

  • The first step toward change is awareness. The second step is acceptance.
  • Nathaniel Branden

Tuesday, November 8th, 2022

What They Remember

“Life is for service.” – Fred Rogers

You deal with clients daily. Some clients are constantly using your services, and many clients you see just once a year. What do these clients think of your service? Do they think it is just routine, or do they think it is extraordinary?

Your job as a firm leader is to teach your team the difference between good and awesome client service. Just like you have a marketing plan, a sales plan, or a succession plan, you need a client service plan. You determine what would make the biggest impression on the client.

You want clients to think your service is memorable. Think about the best restaurant service you have ever experienced. I am sure it was memorable. When I think of customer service, I always remember an experience I had at a Ritz Carlton hotel in St. Louis. I have shared the story many times!

Develop a plan for your firm’s client service. What would make a CPA firm client say, “Wow!”? I know from the sessions I have had with staff members they can come up with many great ideas on how to make your clients say, “Wow!” Get them involved in creating your client service plan.

Will your clients’ stories about your client service be shared many times?

  • Men are rich only as they give. He who gives great service gets great rewards.
  • Elbert Hubbard

Friday, October 14th, 2022

Embrace New Tasks – Don’t Cling To Old Ones

“When I go to a party, nobody says hello. But when I leave, everybody says goodbye.” – George Gobel

This week Flashback Friday addresses a problem that I observe in so many firms. People (including partners and managers) cling to work that is familiar and easily accomplished.

At each level in the firm, you need to say goodbye to routine work and embrace new and more difficult challenges. Read this post from last year – Don’t hesitate to say goodbye.

  • To get a new job you need to leave the old job behind.
  • Seth Godin

Thursday, October 6th, 2022

Bad Clients

“Consider how hard it is to change yourself and you’ll understand what little chance you have in trying to change others.” – Tom Robbins

October 15 is fast approaching. You struggled through September 15 with those troublesome clients who do not respond to your requests for their information. Now, the same struggle continues for those individual income tax clients for their return due October 15.

Some years ago, I found a listing of the 15 habits of bad clients.

  1. Slow paying or non-payment of fees.
  2. Write-downs always exceed write-ups.
  3. The client frequently complains about billings.
  4. The client is unwilling to pay for added services.
  5. Not profitable when compared to other clients.
  6. A personality conflict with partners and staff.
  7. Client conduct makes staff uncomfortable.,
  8. The client is abusive to staff, even if civil to partners.
  9. The client fails to cooperate or provide information on a timely basis.
  10. The client doesn’t listen to the advice and complains about the results.
  11. Client projects are always on a crisis time schedule.
  12. The client expresses a lack of trust in the firm’s work.
  13. The client is less than truthful.
  14. The client has taken on new ventures outside the firm’s area of expertise.
  15. The client’s activities expose the firm to liability.

Use this list to help identify the clients that need to be referred elsewhere.

  • When one door of happiness closes, another opens; but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one which has been opened for us.
  • Helen Keller

Monday, October 3rd, 2022

September Newsletter

“You’re braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.” – A. A. Milne

I just made it! I got my September newsletter sent on September 30th. I know it is not the best idea to send out a newsletter on a Friday, but I didn’t want to skip a month.

This month’s topic is about distractions. We all get distracted in our personal lives and activities and also in our business lives and activities.

A CPA firm takes a lot of effort and attention to become (and continue to be) successful. Don’t let anything distract you from growing and improving your firm and your career.

You can sign up for my newsletter on my website.

  • We will fail when we fail to try.
  • Rosa Parks

Tuesday, September 27th, 2022

Are You Overworked?

“Mediocrity knows nothing higher than itself, but talent instantly recognizes genius.” – Arthur Conan Doyle

Partners and managers complain that the firm needs more experienced people. Every firm wants experienced people; they are very difficult to find.

Rather than whining and complaining, delegate. Partners, make sure your managers are delegating. That way, you will have experienced people to delegate to.

The old advice still applies – – – Push work down to the lowest billing level.

If you are really honest, you know that some of the client work you are doing could be done by someone with a lower billing rate.

In the CPA world, young people learn by having more difficult work continually assigned to them. Don’t let higher-level people get too comfortable with their workload. Complacency leads to mediocrity.

  • Jealousy is the tribute which mediocrity pays to genius.
  • Fulton J. Sheen

Monday, September 26th, 2022

Awesome Client Service

“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” – Gandhi

I have often written and spoken about awesome client service. What does it mean inside your CPA firm? Do your older accountants understand it much better than your younger accountants?

Seth Godin recently did a blog post about White Glove Service. Here’s an excerpt.

Good service meets expectations. It is the fulfillment of a promise to the customer.

White glove service goes far beyond that. It is designed to surprise and delight. It creates a connection with the recipient that goes beyond a simple transaction already paid for. It is a signal of care and respect, of gratitude and abundance.

He also mentions that sometimes “white” glove service slips and becomes “gray.” Don’t let this happen at your firm.

I sometimes observe that inside a CPA firm, especially as important due dates approach, the staff (and partners) complain loudly about the clients being tardy submitting their information. Service might slip into the gray area. Remember, if you make a small mistake (like misspelling their name or getting the wrong address), they think you might be making mistakes on their tax return or financial statement.

I like to refer to the Ritz Carlton motto: “We are ladies and gentlemen serving ladies and gentlemen.”

If you are ladies and gentlemen (and I know you are), get rid of the clients who are not.

  • Catch on fire with enthusiasm and people will come and watch you burn.
  • John Wesley