Archive for the ‘Client service’ Category

Monday, August 8th, 2022

Be Aware of Your Lingo

“The most terrifying words in the English language are: I’m from the government and I’m here to help.” – Ronald Reagan

What is lingo? It is a way of speaking that’s shared by a particular group of people — it’s their own personal slang or jargon. CPAs and those who work for/with them have their own lingo. Think about it.

It is a number type of lingo: 1040, 1040ES, 1065, 1120, 1120s, 941 1099, W-2, W-4, and many more. There is also lingo involving letters: FASB, EBP, GAAP, and so on.

Just remember, your clients do not understand this lingo. Your new hires do not understand this lingo (at first). So, be careful and explain yourself thoroughly when communicating.

I know some tech guys who always observed International Talk Like a Pirate Day (This year, Monday, September 19, 2022) by trying to speak only pirate lingo.

Maybe you can have your own Talk Like An Accountant Day.

  • Of all of our inventions for mass communication, pictures still speak the most universally understood language.
  • Walt Disney

Friday, July 29th, 2022

Flashback Friday – Maister-isms

“Professional is not a label you give yourself – it’s a description you hope others will apply to you.” – David Maister

This Friday, reflect on some advice from David Maister. His comments never seem to get old, and he’s been retired for quite a few years now. Read the Maister-isms here.

Have a great weekend.

  • If your clients aren't actively telling their friends about you, maybe your work isn't as great as you think it is.
  • David Maister

Thursday, June 30th, 2022

Who Thanks You?

“We cannot do a kindness too soon because you never know how soon it will be too late.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Recently, three of my clients took the time to send me a message, thanking me.

It made me think about all you do for your clients. You worry about them. You explore and research to find answers to their questions. You send out a monthly newsletter to keep them informed. You write articles to educate them. You work long hours to be sure they are able to adhere to various federal, state, and local due dates. And, one of the most important things you do for your clients is to listen.

How many of your clients take the time to thank you? I am sure some do. Many of your clients do not.

Of course, they pay you and maybe they think that is payment enough but a thank-you is icing on the cake.

Right now, because of labor shortages, you are deciding which clients to outplace. When you think about each client, consider if they truly appreciate your efforts and what you do for them. It is one factor that will help you decide which ones to keep and which ones to refer to a provider that better fits their needs.

P.S. You also need to thank them every time you have an interaction with them.

  • Showing gratitude is one of the simplest yet most powerful things humans can do for each other.
  • Randy Pausch

Tuesday, June 28th, 2022

Technology Podcast

“Productivity is never an accident. It is always the result of a commitment to excellence, intelligent planning, and focused effort.” – Paul J. Meyer

I know you are always looking for new tools to help your firm become more efficient. You also want to make things easier for your valuable team members.

Much of your efficiencies these days depends on having the absolute best technology. It means the best hardware and software.

A good place to keep up to date is listening to Randy Johnston and Brian Tankersley‘s podcast via CPA Practice Advisor. It’s called The Technology Lab Podcast – New Technology Tools for Accountants

In a recent podcast, they review AuditMiner. I wasn’t aware of it but, of course, I am not an auditor! It appears to be a great tool if you do employee benefit audits.

Hear their review of AuditMiner here.

  • Nothing is less productive than to make more efficient what should not be done at all.
  • Peter Drucker

Friday, June 24th, 2022

Cutting Back – Flashback Friday

“I love how summer just wraps its arms around you like a warm blanket.” – Kellie Elmore

So many businesses have had to cut back on choices and services simply because they can’t find adequate help. Some are calling it skimpflation. Read more about it in this flashback post.

Enjoy this Friday afternoon (and the weekend).

  • Summer afternoon - summer afternoon; to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language.
  • Henry James

Thursday, June 23rd, 2022

Contribution

“Replace your pursuit of success with the pursuit of contribution.” – Peter F. Drucker

Management guru, Peter Drucker, stressed the importance of contribution. To be a great leader you need to ask yourself how you can contribute to the success of your firm and your people.

What more can you do? What more can you contribute?

From Drucker: “What is the most important contribution I can make to the performance of this organization? What knowledge and skills do I need to acquire? What strengths do I have to put to work?” They become more focused on what skills, talents, and abilities they need to develop through continuous practice which would assist them in fully contributing towards the organization. As a result, they establish standards for themselves based on excellence, ambitious goals, and doing work that has a meaningful impact (Drucker, 1966).

As a firm leader, you establish performance standards for your team. What standards do you establish for yourself, as a partner?

  • Knowledge has to be improved, challenged, and increased constantly, or it vanishes.
  • Peter F. Drucker

Tuesday, June 21st, 2022

Insights On Managing Your Firm

“For some of them it is too late….. they are not going to change the system.” – Allan Koltin

Yuri Kapilovich, CPA does a podcast titled, the Capital Contribution. Recently, he did an interview with Allan Koltin. I urge you to listen to it. They both have good advice for CPAs in public practice. Click here for the podcast with Koltin.

There is so much good advice in this podcast that I can’t possibly share it all in one blog post. I am pleased that much of it has been said by many of us in the CPA firm management world. I know most of it applies to the clients I am serving right now.

Here are some highlights. Maybe you have heard them before from me and other consultants but probably Koltin sees inside more top 100 firms than anyone.

  • There is still too much “old school” thinking out there in the CPA profession.
  • We neglect the A client because we are swamped with the crappy C & D clients.
  • Give young people client contact early on. Don’t leave them in the back room grinding.

Listen to the podcast. It is worth your time.

  • In a CPA firm, change only happens when change is better than status quo. And right now status quo feels pretty good.
  • Allan Koltin

Monday, June 13th, 2022

Please Yourself

You wouldn’t worry so much about what others think of you if you realized how seldom they do.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

“You can’t please everyone.” – Now, that is a common phrase that I have certainly used often in my life and my career.

If you are a baby boomer, you might remember the lyrics from a Rick Nelson song titled Garden Party. Part of the lyrics says, “you can’t please everyone, so you’ve got to please yourself.”

There is something to be said for that.

How many times, inside your firm, have you rolled out a new initiative, guideline, process, service, employee benefit, whatever and a few people whine. Firm leadership immediately gets worried and then tweaks it, and waters it down in an attempt to make everyone happy. I’ve seen this happen SO many times and it is crazy.

It also happens relating to practice growth. CPAs try too hard to be all things to all people. I like this quote from Seth Godin:

“The mass market is no longer. There is almost no room left for the next Procter & Gamble or Google. Instead, you are far more likely to do your best work if you are willing to delight a few as opposed to soothe the masses.”

That’s why consultants to the profession, like me, stress the importance of niches and urge you to outplace D-level clients.

Pick your very best clients – – – delight the heck out of them – – -and focus on getting more like them. If you ask them, they will probably be more than happy to refer you to other great business owners like themselves. But remember, you have to ask.

Keep in mind, “You can’t please everyone, so you’ve got to please yourself.”

  • When you say yes to others, make sure you aren't saying no to yourself.
  • Paulo Coehlo

Tuesday, May 31st, 2022

EY Break-Up Plan

“Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving.” – Albert Einstein

I’m sure you have been reading about EY’s break-up plan. Splitting the audit and advisory businesses faces significant hurdles but other firms could follow.

Here’s an interesting article that you should read.

  • We must be willing to let go of the life we’ve planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us.
  • Joseph Campbell

Monday, May 9th, 2022

Mistakes Happen

“The public seldom forgive twice.” – Johann Kaspar Lavater

When I first joined a CPA firm, I was actually amazed at the lengths the partners and staff went to assure that the work they did for the clients was absolutely correct. At that point in my life, my work experience had always demanded: “do it right the first time.”

In the accounting firm, my administrative work was proofed and reviewed. The work performed by the accountants was checked, reviewed, corrected, reviewed again, (corrected again, if need be), quality reviewed, and then checked by a partner before they signed off. I was amazed at the review steps that were part of everyday life in an accounting firm.

I was, and still am, puzzled by the fact that more focus isn’t put on doing it right the first time. When things are checked and reviewed so much, I imagine it is easy to hurry through a task and just hope your reviewer will catch any mistakes.

Once in a great while, a mistake happens. Oh, no! It is a small mistake and you have all experienced them. It is usually the wrong address used when mailing something. A simple typo in a communication to a client. A label affixed to an envelope that is crooked (remember, everything going to a client must be perfect, it is the little things that matter). Have you ever mailed a tax organizer to a dead person? The family is not pleased.

However, rarely, a more major mistake slips through the review process. The client brings it to your attention. You apologize profusely to the client and go about correcting the error. They seem to understand. They are loyal and forgiving. They don’t even consider leaving the firm.

That is why making mistakes when serving CPA firm clients is so rare and why so much caution is applied to the processes. Because if you make another mistake with that same client, you will probably lose the client and damage the firm reputation.

Keep today’s quotation, above, in mind and develop training methods that encourage your team to do it right the first time.

  • If you don't have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over?
  • John Wooden