Archive for the ‘Client service’ Category

Friday, January 15th, 2021

Adding New Clients – Flashback Friday

“Quality is much better than quantity. One home run is much better than two doubles.” – Steve Jobs

Adding new clients is always a challenge for CPA firms. However, some firms have a marketing machine, visible rainmakers, and obtaining new clients isn’t their biggest issue.

The challenge is being able to provide awesome client service to the rapidly growing client base.

Here’s a flashback post to help you with that challenge.

  • Hard work spotlights the character of people: some turn up their sleeves, some turn up their noses, and some don't turn up at all.
  • Sam Ewing

Wednesday, January 13th, 2021

News From the AICPA

“Action is the antidote to despair.” – Joan Baez

AICPA Encourages Firms to Aggressively Advance PPP Applications

SBA Expected to Reopen for All Lenders by Friday, Jan. 15

NEW YORK (Jan. 13, 2021) –The American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) expects the federal government to open up the application process for all lenders participating in the latest round of the Paycheck Protection Program by Friday, and encourages CPA firms to advance the application process for small business clients seeking relief.

The Small Business Administration (SBA) began accepting  new applications on a limited basis this week through community financial institutions. But confusion about the timing for other lenders has led to anxiety among small businesses and their advisors. 

“We believe the full program needs to go live as soon as possible and we fully support the Treasury Department and SBA reopening the program for all lenders by Friday,” said AICPA President and CEO Barry Melancon, CPA, CGMA. “What we’ve been telling CPA firms is be prepared and get to work. All indications, based on input from the Treasury and SBA, is there will be enough funding to meet all of the ‘first draw’ and ‘second draw’ PPP applications, so firms can help alleviate concerns their clients may have.”

The AICPA has been advising firms to collect key information from their clients such as average monthly payroll amounts, quarterly revenue comparisons for second draw borrowers and other required documentation to speed the process. Compared to the initial launch of the program in April 2020, firms now have substantial experience in business relief, more guidance and better tools.

The AICPA, CPA.com and fintech leader Biz2Credit in September launched a financing platform for CPA firms, the CPA Business Funding Portal, to help practitioners as they assist small businesses through PPP loan forgiveness. The portal, which has been used by thousands of firms, has been updated to accept so-called PPP2 applications and over three thousand applications have already been prepopulated.

“Small businesses should expect more scrutiny in this round of PPP applications,” said Erik Asgeirsson, president and CEO of CPA.com. “The SBA is doing more vetting for potential fraud and in some instances is asking for more validation. It’s important that businesses and their advisors get it right, so that applications don’t get held up and pushed back in the queue. That’s why we think it’s vital that firms use the more robust set of tools that are available now.”

The CPA Business Funding Portal offers a free basic service, plus tiered subscription plans for firms that want a direct path to fund loans through an SBA-approved lender to ensure they receive agent fees.

“It is critical that business owners work closely with their trusted business advisors, especially their CPA, to ensure they qualify for the maximum loan amount and provide the right supporting documentation,” said Rohit Arora, CEO and Co-Founder of Biz2Credit. “Being prepared now is the best way for businesses to ensure they get the money they need.”

AICPA executives will discuss the latest PPP developments and their implications for CPAs and their small business clients at this week’s AICPA Town Hall at 3 p.m. ET on Thursday. For more information about the AICPA’s resources for firms on PPP, please visit aicpa.org/sba.  More details about the CPA Business Funding Portal can be found at cpa.com/business-funding.

  • Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy.
  • Dale Carnegie

Tuesday, December 22nd, 2020

Write a Note

“Letter writing is the only device for combining soitude with good company.” – Lord Byron

We have evolved so far with technology that a handwritten note is very rare. We text, we email, we chat. This means that a handwritten note carries so much more clout than it ever did in the past.

During these last few days of 2020, or early in 2021, write a handwritten note to each of your direct reports. Those people, at work, who are closest to you and who help you the most may have never received a handwritten note from you.

I am sure your firm has blasted out a nice Holiday message to all your clients, prospects, and referral sources. That’s nice. But why not set aside some time during early January to write a brief handwritten note to a select group of clients who truly mean something to you.

Of course your whales (those very big revenue generating clients) would not be surprised. They probably expect it. But, why not send a note to some of those smaller, long-time loyal clients who you really like (you might not actually enjoy dealing with some of the big ones!).

I cannot possibly send a handwritten note to all the loyal followers of this blog. But, I do appreciate you so much! Here is my effort in showing you my appreciation.

  • It's amazing how email has changed our lives. You ever get a handwritten letter in the mail today? What the? Has someone been kidnapped?"
  • Jim Gaffigan

Thursday, December 17th, 2020

Client Service

“Success isn’t a result of spontaneous combustion. You must set yourself on fire.” – Arnold Glasow

All accounting firms say that they provide good client service, great client service, or even awesome client service. Awesome is the goal. Few reach it.

Client service is made up of some big things (like accuracy when it comes to their taxes or projects). It is also made up of many small things. That is why I have always stressed to my clients and readers…. the little things can make the biggest difference!

If a client has to call you to check on the status of their tax returns, that is poor client service. You should be calling them. If they have to call more than once, word will spread about the firm’s lack of urgency. People like to talk about bad service more than they like to talk about good service.

Getting work out the door means it can be billed and that enhances the firm’s cash flow.

In the “old days” we had to search to find where a client project had stalled. Now, with document management systems, you can easily see where there are backlogs. You can tell where things get stuck.

Too often, staff are pressured to get the work completed. It goes to the manager or partner for review and it might languish for weeks! Then it becomes a fire drill for admin.

This is a sad story that is repeated day after day, year after year in accounting firms. Don’t let it happen in your firm. It will not get you the reputation for providing awesome client service!

  • 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

Monday, November 23rd, 2020

Expend The Effort

“Don’t let the sun go down without saying thank you to someone, and without admitting to yourself that absolutely no one gets this far alone.” Stephen King

For years I have talked about the value of writing (by hand) a personal note or thank-you to individuals on your team.

Last week I received a handwritten note from a CPA. I did a presentation for a group he chairs. It is a small firm networking group and they met in Key West.

I did not go there. I did it via video from my home office and enjoyed my time with them discussing various practice management topics.

Douglas H. Chaffins of Chaffins, Batdorf & Austell in Georgia sent the note. It made me smile and pleased me so much. It’s been a long time since I received a handwritten thank-you note! How about you?

Read more about the power of this small task below. Expend the extra effort to send one to someone. Make their day!

Client Service – A Simple Thank-you Can Be Powerful

“Wow! You Are Doing Great.” – – Tell Them

  • We must find time to stop and thank the people who make a difference in our lives.
  • John F. Kennedy

Wednesday, November 18th, 2020

More Important Than Ever

“You never get a second chance to make a first impression.” – Will Rogers

Websites are on my mind today. When comes to promoting your firm, yourself, and your people, your website is more important than ever.

As you might guess, I constantly look at CPA firm websites. If you ever send me an email or if your firm is ever in the news, you can bet I will be perusing your website.

There are still a significant number of firms that have not taken action on updating their website. It appears that it has been the same for the last ten or fifteen years. You can tell immediately when you hit their site. When I ‘hit’ one, it makes me sad.

In these times of no meeting and greeting potential clients in person, the only impression they get of you is from your website. Someone should be managing your website daily. You need current articles and high-quality pictures of your partners and other leaders. Your site needs to give the impression that you are modern, future-focused, and extremely knowledgeable. If your website says (without using words) that you are an “old school” firm, you are in trouble.

For progressive firms, a significant number of new clients come to the firm because of their website. How many are coming to your firm because they simply looked at your website and were impressed?

  • You only get one chance to make a good first impression, and yours may be in the hands of the receptionist.
  • Harvey Mackay

Friday, November 13th, 2020

Difficult Clients

“Respect is for those who deserve not for those who demand it.” – Paulo Coelho

In CPA management circles, we have talked and talked about how to deal with difficult clients. Here is a flashback post for this Friday that will give you some solutions.

Upfront, be sure to train your clients. Of course, you know what the final solution is – help them find another accounting firm!

Your team members are way too valuable to be harassed and degraded by rude and unnecessarily demanding clients.

  • I speak to everyone in the same way, whether he is the garbage man or the president of the university.
  • Albert Einstein

Friday, November 6th, 2020

This & That For Friday

“All truly great thoughts are conceived while walking.” – Friedrich Nietzsche

For this Friday’s flashback post, read about having a commitment statement and how one can be designed to notify your clients of your commitments to them and informing them what commitments you expect from them. Samples are included.

Don’t forget about the CPAFMA Virtual Accelerator Program coming up on Monday and Tuesday. I’ll be involved both days and there are a wide variety of helpful sessions.

Yesterday, I had a great time talking with (via Zoom) with a group of partners from different firms who get together to network and learn from each other a couple of times per year.

I am hearing a lot about hiring from my clients and contacts. Every firm is looking for experienced people – that is nothing new but the demand seems to have increased in urgency as we approach another tax season.

The hybrid model of CPA workforces is gaining strength – Hybrid meaning sometimes in the office and sometimes remotely. It seems to be desired by a growing number of team members. Sometimes it is nice to get away from home and actually work in the office.

Have a calming and enjoyable weekend. Be kind.

  • Reflect upon your present blessings -- of which every man has many -- not on your past misfortunes, of which all men have some.
  • Charles Dickens

Thursday, November 5th, 2020

So Many Ideas

“There’s no shortage of remarkable ideas, what’s missing is the will to execute them.” – Seth Godin

Once again, a Seth Godin quote seems to fit perfectly into the management of an accounting firm.

Failing to implement is something that I have covered often. Why? Because it happens SO often!

You are not attending conferences where you once obtained many great ideas that would benefit your firm. But now, in these unique times, you are listening to a lot of helpful podcasts and informative webinars. Something is mentioned that would be a perfect thing for your firm to embrace.

You mention it to others on the firm’s management team. They agree that it is a good idea but with COVID the time is not right.

When will the time be right?

For some helpful ideas, join the CPAFMA Accelerator Program on November 9 and 10. I’ll be involved both days.

  • Have you got a problem? Do what you can where you are with what you've got.
  • Theodore Roosevelt

Wednesday, November 4th, 2020

Bringing In Business

“Business opportunities are like buses, there’s always another one coming.” – Sir Richard Branson

For years now, firm leaders have been worrying about what happens when the firm’s best rainmakers retire. Often, firms have depended on one major rainmaker. The ones worrying the most are the partners who have not been rainmakers themselves.

The fact is, the baby boomer rainmakers are retiring now, on a regular basis.

To complicate the situation, how can an experienced business development partner “take along” a young person when talking with clients, attorneys, and/or bankers during COVID? I have always advised experienced partners to take a young person along. Times have changed.

Are your partners involving younger accountants in Zoom meetings with clients and others?

Let the client see the face of the person who will actually be doing the work associated with their engagement. Make that next video (or conference) call your client a 3-way or 4-way meeting.

If you are a partner or manager and about to make a quick video call to a client, stop and think! Who else should be seen by your client? Young people learn by example and now being an example involves a little more thought and effort than it has in past years.

  • You only have to do a few things right in our life so long as you don't do too many things wrong.
  • Warren Buffett