Archive for the ‘Client service’ Category

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

Monday, September 17th, 2018

Due Date Decisions

“You’ve done it before and you can do it now. See the positive possibilities. Redirect the substantial energy of your frustration and turn it into positive, effective, unstoppable determination.” – Ralph Marston

The extended due date is here.

You and your team have been working very hard during a time of year when you should not have to work so hard.

You have those fire-drill clients that almost always hold you hostage right up until the drop-dead extension deadline. It is frustrating. Your team wonders why you put up with these clients.

Why do you? Putting extra strain and frustration on your employees in times where employees are valuable and new ones are difficult to cultivate doesn’t seem like a good plan.

Use this client retention analysis form to help you sort out which clients to outplace.

Or, just ask your employees to vote for 5 clients that they would enjoy seeing gone from the client list.

 

  • Hope fills the holes in my frustration in my heart.
  • Emanuel Cleaver

Wednesday, September 5th, 2018

Fire Drill 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

September 15th is approaching rapidly. You are so unhappy with those clients that ignore all of your requests for their information. Once the fire drill is over, take time to review your client list and decide on the ones that simply must go.

According to Arvid Mostad, President of Mostad & Christensen, Inc., a well-known supplier of quality marketing materials to the CPA profession, here are the 15 habits of bad clients:
  1. Slow paying or non-payment of fees.
  2. Write-downs always exceed write-ups.
  3. Client frequently complains about billings.
  4. Client is unwilling to pay for added services.
  5. Not profitable when compared to other clients.
  6. Personality conflict with partners and staff.
  7. Client conduct makes staff uncomfortable.,
  8. Client is abusive to staff, even if civil to partners.
  9. Client fails to cooperate or provide information on a timely basis.
  10. Client doesn’t listen to advice given, then complains about results.
  11. Client projects are always on a crisis time schedule.
  12. Client expresses lack of trust in the firm’s work.
  13. Client is less than truthful.
  14. Client has taken on new ventures outside the firm’s area of expertise.
  15. Client’s activities expose the firm to liability.

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

  • Laughter and tears are both responses to frustration and exhaustion . . . . I myself prefer to laugh, since there is less cleaning up to do afterward.
  • Kurt Vonnegut

Tuesday, September 4th, 2018

Establish An Email Policy

“Challenges are what make life interesting and overcoming them is what makes life meaningful.” – Joshua J. Marine

Not sure why, but many CPAs seem to have a fascination with retaining emails. I have talked to some who admit that they have thousands in their inbox that might date back two or three years or more.

I like a comment in the article I featured last week about M&A and technology. An acquiring firm gets IT involved during due diligence to start educating the firm being acquired about retention policies. When your data comes over to the new system, all of your email older than six months will go away. You need to move client emails to the client file.

How would some of your partners feel about that? If you are a smaller firm and have not implemented these essential types of IT policies, start preparing now.

  • 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

Friday, August 31st, 2018

Flashback Friday – Keep Clients Coming Back

“Be faithful in small things because it is in them that our strength lies.” – Mother Teresa

Why do clients keep coming back? Here’s a flashback post to help you be the kind of firm that people want to do business with.

Clients judge you on the little things!

  • One person can make a difference, and everyone should try.
  • John F. Kennedy

Tuesday, August 28th, 2018

Emergencies

“Great emergencies and crises show us how much greater our vital resources are than we had supposed.” – William James

I don’t often use a complete post by Seth Godin. However, this one hits so close to home for CPAs that I just had to share it right here – so you will read it!

Another important due date is approaching. So many of you tell me that much of the stress is caused by clients who fail to provide information. Then it becomes a fire drill to complete their tax return by the due date causing stress and frustration for the entire team. His first paragraph is exactly you. 

You must charge a significantly higher fee for emergencies. If those tardy clients won’t pay it then let them go elsewhere. Quit complaining about these clients and take steps to solve the situation.

Emergencies Cost Extra

If you work in a field where things need to be delivered by date certain, with zero defects, with high consequences if you make a mistake—then you need to charge a premium for exposing yourself to emergencies.

It doesn’t matter what something in a non-emergency situation costs. If someone wants the standard version, let them buy that.

The buyer is offered to pull it off the shelf, see if you like it. If it doesn’t satisfy you, take a different one.

Emergencies (or even the risk of emergencies) cost extra. Yelling at us costs extra. Panic costs extra.

Your entire organization (and your entire day) revolves around preventing the emergency or recovering from it when it occurs.

The reason custom work costs more is no longer a matter of production efficiency. Computers are happy to customize things.

Big companies that serve other big companies spend at least 80% of their overhead on being ready (or dealing with) meetings and emergencies.

The reason to charge more is all about ensurance, insurance and emotional wear and tear.

If that’s the sort of work you want to do, charge appropriately.

  • History is a relentless master. It has no present, only the past rushing into the future. To try to hold fast is to be swept aside.
  • John F. Kennedy