Archive for the ‘Client service’ Category

Thursday, January 24th, 2019

Client Service Is Your Best Marketing

If you are doing what everyone else is doing, if you are inside the band of common, then it’s not an approach that will move you forward.  – Seth Godin

What is your firm known for? Accuracy, understanding, caring, knowledge, maybe expensive?

Has anyone said that you have the best client service? I believe that if a CPA firm focused intensely on client service they would become the leading firm in their market. If a CPA firm did extensive training with their people on making client interactions satisfying and even fun, they would become the leading firm in their market.

Some examples from Seth Godin:

A b2b insurance agency spent two million dollars ripping out voice mail from their agency. Every call gets answered by a human every time. It paid for itself in four months. That’s a strategic investment, not a cost-cutting shortcut.

When Fedex was building relationships with busy businesspeople who would become the backbone of their customer base, they answered the phone on the first ring, every time.

Has anyone at your firm ever answered the phone on the first ring? Do any of your partners actually dodge calls from some clients? Read: Your Customer Service Strategy.

  • You can treat your customers like they don’t have a choice, but in the long run, customers always have a choice.
  • Seth Godin

Wednesday, January 23rd, 2019

Just Send Us Your Information

“Assumptions are the termites of relationships.” – Henry Winkler

It is easy to just have clients mail their information to you or use your portal to submit it. You don’t have to do anything. Some clients, who are close by, just drop it off at the front desk and walk out the door.

Why not think about increasing communication with your clients at this time of year. Many of your 1040 clients are also business clients. Ask them to stop by and spend 15 minutes with you (or talk to them via phone) to talk about their business or personal situation.

A brief conversation like this can uncover additional services that your firm could provide to clients. Tax time is marketing time. Many of your clients might be greatly under-served and you do not even know it.

Have you talked to a client at tax time and found out that during the past year they have used another provider for something your firm provides? Their comment might be, “I didn’t know YOU could do that!”

  • “There is only one boss. The customer. And he can fire everybody in the company from the chairman on down, simply by spending his money somewhere else.”
  • Sam Walton

Friday, January 18th, 2019

Punctuality

I have always admired punctuality in others. There is an old saying:

Punctuality is the politeness of kings.

Here’s the story of where that saying originated:

Kings (especially before the [French] revolution) didn’t need to be punctual. They could show up when they wanted. After all, people would wait for them. But [King Louis XVIII of France, to whom the quote is often attributed] suggests that one way a king can show respect for other people is to meet them at the appointed time. If this is true for kings, it certainly is true for you and me.

  • In the ordinary business of life punctuality is... necessary.
  • Bertrand Russell

Monday, January 14th, 2019

CAS – Client Accounting Services

“Success is not final; failure is not fatal: It is the courage to continue that counts.” – Winston Churchill

I have been talking to my clients a lot recently about CAS (Client Accounting Services). To me, for many firms, it is something that they should pursue. Even many of the Top 100 firms are using it and capitalizing on a growing and profitable opportunity.

Smaller firms seem to be less enthusiastic. For most smaller firms, it does require a digital transformation, elevating technology into a much broader role. Jim Boomer of Boomer Consulting, in a recent article, describes digital transformation:

Digital transformation

First is digital transformation. Moving up the continuum of value from transactional and compliance work to performance and strategic services requires elevating technology a much broader role. We must automate “low or no value” steps in the processes to improve the client experience.

Technology is the foundation of your firm’s ability to move up the continuum of value. So start assessing and evaluating available technologies and considering how your existing clients can benefit from new technologies.

No single software will have all the features to meet the needs of every client. Start with a primary, comprehensive accounting software and then use other add-on solutions that integrate with your main accounting software. This will provide the efficiency gains of automation.

If you want your firm to move from compliance to advisory services, Boomer also warns that your business model must also change. You need to address things like:

  • Value pricing
  • Marketing
  • Staffing
  • Client interaction

Read Jim Boomer’s informative article here.

 

  • It is better to fail in originality than to succeed in imitation.
  • Herman Melville

Thursday, January 10th, 2019

How to Become Virtual

“Mergers generate substantial synergies.” – Roger Altman

Virtual CPA firms have been evolving for many years now. Many have gained much notoriety and a substantial client following.

I enjoyed reading this article about my good friends at Beach Fleischman, a Top 200 firm based in Tucson, Arizona. The joined forces with a smaller firm to create a virtual firm, MOD Ventures, that will service both firms’ outsourced accounting services clients going forward.

Read all about it here, via Accounting Today. Maybe it will motivate you and your firm to become more creative and take advantage of virtual opportunities.

  • Fight for the things that you care about, but do it in a way that will lead others to join you.
  • Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Wednesday, January 9th, 2019

Tech Mistakes

“Technology like art is a soaring exercise of the human imagination.” – Daniel Bell

There was an interesting article via the Journal of Accountancy recently that you might want to read. It deals with technology mistakes that you should avoid.

The common mistakes, called “the dirty dozen” by the author (J. Carlton Collins, CPA) are:

  1. Email messages are unencrypted
  2. Old computers are still used
  3. Employees are not adequately trained
  4. Accounting system features are underutilized
  5. Paperless systems are inadequately implemented
  6. Physical security is lacking
  7. Smartphones are underutilized
  8. Cloud computing isn’t used
  9. Work areas are poorly designed
  10. Color printing is underutilized
  11. Social media is underutilized
  12. Websites are inadequate

My hot buttons on this list are #3, #5 and #12. How about you? Be sure to follow the link and read what the author says about each one.

  • Let’s go invent tomorrow instead of worrying about what happened yesterday.
  • Steve Jobs

Friday, January 4th, 2019

You Are Running a Business

“If we wait until we’re ready, we’ll be waiting for the rest of our lives.” – Lemony Snicket

I talk to so many CPA firm leaders who are struggling with very important decisions. I can listen, suggest and advise but I can’t do it for you.

  • What are you afraid of? Why do you often postpone some simple business decisions because you just might hurt someone’s feelings?
  • Why do you procrastinate on dealing with poor performers because you might hurt someone’s feelings?
  • Why do you allow several clients to use your firm like a bank? They owe you money, they don’t pay and you just let it “go” for a very long time.

You are running a business and your people and your clients should expect you to make timely, and sometimes difficult, business decisions.

Are these types of things happening at your CPA firm? If so, make a decision to deal with them, beginning immediately.

  • Just say yes and you'll figure it out afterwards.
  • Tina Fey

Thursday, January 3rd, 2019

A New Year – No More Excuses

“It’s not about the cards you’re dealt, but how you play the hand.”
― Randy Pausch, The Last Lecture

People working inside busy accounting firms always seem to have a lot of excuses.

  • I would have finished that tax return but I have been waiting on information from the client.
  • I could have gotten that engagement to you for review sooner but the staff person worked so slowly!
  • The year is almost gone, we can’t possibly work on that new process until after tax season.
  • We can’t adopt that new technology, it is just too expensive.
  • She is not meeting expectations but we need an extra pair of hands, especially in tax season. We’ll talk to her in the Spring.

Realizing that you have problems to deal with is often very frightening. When you make excuses and put off taking action it prevents the firm, and its people, from growing and prospering.

As firm leaders, you own the problems. Deal with them as they come. If you don’t, who will?

  • He that is good for making excuses is seldom good for anything else.
  • Benjamin Franklin

Friday, December 28th, 2018

Making The Move

You have heard it discussed extensively during the last few years. I am referring to making the move from compliance work to becoming a consulting firm.

CPA firms have been doing compliance work (tax returns and financial statements) forever. Some people working at the firm have, through years of experience, moved into more of a consulting role. Traditionally, these people are partners. In recent years, it has become common for a CPA firm to also provide some sort of technology and human resource consulting for clients.

In a recent article in Accounting Today, August Aquila notes, “There is a significant difference between consulting and compliance services — the way they are priced, marketed, the staff training, and even the business model all come into play. I’ve seen too many firms try to manage their consulting services as if they were compliance services. This is a big mistake.”

I have found that so many CPAs are performing consulting services just as if they were part of the compliance engagement, leaving money on the table.

Angie Grissom, in the same article notes, “Let’s not forget competencies, training and people. It can take a long time to become a good consultant. Many consultants have MBAs, and operational and finance experience, rather than accounting or tax. Like all professionals, they learn on the job.”

Consider how many consultants you have now. You probably just have a few partners performing these services. To develop more consultants, you must start grooming younger people earlier in their careers. From day one you should be taking them along on consulting engagements and involving them in discussions with the clients.

Larger firms are building their consulting practice by acquiring firms that are already consultants such as technology firms or human resource consultants. They are also hiring people from the college campus who are not accounting majors.

Get started on a plan for how your firm will make the transition from compliance to consulting. Keep in mind what Grissom says, “A major difference is, of course, the fee that consultants can charge versus what auditors or tax preparers charge. Consultants have convinced their clients that their services have a higher value.”

Read the entire article here.

 

Monday, December 17th, 2018

Digital Client Advisory Services Roadmap Workshop

“Opportunity does not knock, it presents itself when you beat down the door.” – Kyle Chandler

I have talked to many CPAs about truly organizing and adding Client Accounting Services to their menu of services. Many firms are experiencing great success. It is important for you to understand the digital part of the equation.

CPA.com is offering a helpful workshop – Digital Client Advisory Services Roadmap Workshop – on January 23-24, 2019 in Burlingame, CA. Here a link to more information.

There is a $300 discount that expires on December 23.

Who should attend:

  • Client accounting service practice leaders
  • Key staff
  • Partners in small, midsize and large CPA firms
  • Accounting firm business development and marketing professionals

I hope you explore this opportunity.

  • The game of life is a lot like football. You have to tackle your problems, block your fears, and score your points when you get the opportunity.
  • Lewis Grizzard