Archive for the ‘Client service’ Category

Monday, April 13th, 2020

Work Habits of CPA Partners

“Without ambition one starts nothing. Without work, one finishes nothing. The prize will not be sent to you. You have to win it.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson

Many non-partner CPAs and others working in or advising the CPA profession have said that partners work too many hours.

Advisors have been saying for years that your young CPAs won’t want to become a partner because they see the partners setting the wrong example – they work too hard and too many hours.

A recent article via HBR stated that, based on a study, top CEOs of public companies work an average of 62.5 hours per week. CEOs are always on, and there is always more to be done. Think about how that statement applies to your partners, especially the managing partner, the executive committee, etc.

If you want to be a partner someday, keep in mind that you will have two roles, owner and employee. Non-partner CPAs in public practice work with clients. Yes, they have some additional roles by serving on committees or special task forces for the firm but mainly, they help clients.

Partners serve clients and their second job – which maybe should be their first job – is running an efficient, effective and profitable business – the firm. They are paid well if the firm is successful. Their employees are paid well if the firm is successful.

If you are critical of your partners, keep in mind, they are always on, and there is always more to be done.

You might find the HBR article interesting – How CEOs Manage Time.

  • I am focused on the work. I am constantly creating. I am a busy girl. I live and breathe my work. I love what I do. I believe in the message. There’s no stopping.
  • Lady Gaga

Friday, April 10th, 2020

Agreements

“Be sure you put your feet in the right place, then stand firm.” – Abraham Lincoln

In the CPA profession, there are all kinds of agreements – employment agreements, partner agreements and so on. None of these are my favorite.

My favorite agreements are The Four Agreements, by Don Miguel Ruiz.

Revisit them here. It’s Flashback Friday.

  • Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, ambition inspired, and success achieved.
  • Helen Keller

Tuesday, April 7th, 2020

Move Quickly!

“Expect the best. Prepare for the worst. Capitalize on what comes.” – Zig Ziglar

For years I have been encouraging (yes, even nagging) you to improve your billing and collection policies and procedures. Here are a couple of examples:

Pay Attention to Collections – February 2020

Never Be Complacent About Collections – January 2018

The tax deadline is now July 15 but that is not a reason to slow down. It is so important to continue to work quickly, bill immediately and focus on collection.

You are helping your clients face unimagined challenges. You are valuable. Bill them quickly and bill them for what you are worth. It is going to be a year of hard work on behalf of your clients. You are needed.

  • The man is richest whose pleasures are cheapest.
  • Henry David Thoreau

Monday, April 6th, 2020

AICPA Coalition Recommends PPP Applicants Use Gross Payroll Approach in Calculations

“The role of genius is not to complicate the simple but to simplify the complicated.” – Criss Jami

WASHINGTON, DC (April 4, 2020) – For the calculation of the Average Monthly Payroll cost under the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), the Gross Payroll approach should be used for the application, according to the recommendation from the AICPA-led small business funding coalition
. This recommendation was developed in conjunction with the National Payroll Reporting Consortium (NPRC). It comes after the additional guidelines Treasury and the Small Business Administration (SBA) issued on Thursday.

For the calculation of the Average Monthly Payroll cost, we recommend that payroll providers and CPAs use Gross Payroll based on 2019 data versus Net Payroll (defined as Gross Payroll less federal withholding and employee FICA). Neither the CARES Act nor the recent guidance instructs the PPP applicant to exclude federal withholding and employee FICA for the 2019 period. The Average Monthly Payroll cost includes Gross Payroll and the other defined PPP payroll cost elements such as health care, etc.

“Treasury and the SBA have acted quickly to generate this small business stimulus. As key stakeholders in the implementation of the PPP relief, we are collectively working to drive consistency in the interpretation of the administration’s guidance. Our goal is to help produce an efficient application process to quickly get the funds in the hands of small businesses and their employees,” said Erik Asgeirsson, president and CEO of CPA.com.

Mark Koziel, CPA, CGMA, the AICPA’s executive vice president of firm services, added, “Based upon statements from members of Congress, it appears that the intent of the PPP was to base the salary calculation on gross wages with no adjustment for federal taxes. This ensures that payroll tax expenses are not passed on to the small businesses in need. In a program of this magnitude, it’s expected that guidance will evolve and terms will be clarified.”

The AICPA also said that its discussions with Treasury, SBA, banks and payroll processors to address these and other issues are ongoing and that it will keep its members, coalition partners and small businesses updated on the efforts to protect Main Street America.

  • I'm full of fears and I do my best to avoid difficulties and any kind of complications. I like everything around me to be clear as crystal and completely calm.
  • Alfred Hitchcock

Monday, March 30th, 2020

Client Service At Its Best

shayna2

“The key is when a customer walks away, thinking ‘Wow, I love doing business with them, and I want to tell others about the experience.’” -Shep Hyken

I know and work with a lot of small CPA firms. One CPA I have admired for years is Shayna Chapman, Founder & Chief Strategist of Shaynaco LLC.

Shayna tweeted the following last Saturday at about 6:00 p.m.

I’ve spent 2 days personally calling every biz client, explaining the new bill as best as I can, preparing them for what will be needed. Also explaining I don’t have ALL of the answers yet, but we’ll work to get them. These have been hard times, but the best conversations.

I know you are busy with taxes. Your clients need more than that right now. It is a time of sailing unchartered waters. Now, and in the foreseeable future, they are going to need more and more from you. It’s time to get busier!

  • Just having satisfied customers isn't good enough anymore. If you really want a booming business, you have to create raving fans.
  • Ken Blanchard

Thursday, March 26th, 2020

Keep Communicating With Your Clients

“Wise men speak because they have something to say; Fools because they have to say something.” – Plato

I happen to be on the mailing list of many CPA firms and I have been so pleased to see how well you are all communicating with your clients.

Now is the time they need reassurance from you. They will need lots of assistance in the days, weeks and months ahead and you are their “go-to” person.

I have assembled some of the communications as inspiration for you. You can download a copy of my compilation of just a few of the emails firms are sending to clients.

 

  • Good communication is just as stimulating as black coffee, and just as hard to sleep after.
  • Anne Morrow Lindbergh

Wednesday, March 18th, 2020

You Are A Star

“It is kind of fun to do the impossible.” – Walt Disney

When you work for Disney all employees are referred to as cast members. Cast members refer to every employee, not just the ones who portray Disney characters.

473CB98A-3331-416C-BE99-D52F25AD638CThis method came from Walt Disney himself. He wanted to create a theme park that was a magical place for all the visitors. To him, each day, the employees were putting on a show, a magical show. It is about managing the guests’ experience.

You can bring this line of thinking into your busy, successful CPA firm. You are the same as Disney – you are providing a service and a wonderful experience for your customers (clients). You want each client, potential client, visitor or vendor dealing with your firm to have the same Smith, Jones & Company experience whether it is the Mr. Big Shot client or the Elderly Lady client.

So, when things get back to normal (after working remotely for a while), walk into the office and remember that you are going on stage. You are a star in your firm’s production. As you work from home, you can apply the same process. You will be talking with clients via phone, texting and emailing them. Let your “on stage” personality shine through.

Later on, help your firm develop some guidelines for the client experience at your firm and train future employees on how to manage the client experience.

Here are some “secret” rules for Disney employees.

  • The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing.
  • Walt Disney

Monday, March 16th, 2020

Stay Positive

“I’ve decided to be happy because it is good for my health.” – Voltaire

It is a strange time for all of you working in public accounting. Of course, it is tax season. Client service must continue as usual. However, strange and unfamiliar circumstances have been layered on top of business as usual.

Many of you are working from home this week and for the unforeseeable future. In my state of Ohio, all schools will be closed at the end of today.

This new day and week will bring new challenges. However, I know that CPAs and all their team members will meet the challenges with style and grace. They will be creative, curious and dedicated.

Already, I have heard from many firms about how they are handling the challenges. I will post about some solutions that CPA firms are embracing tomorrow. It is a time of flexibility and creativity and I KNOW you are good at that.

I love to share quotes and it is time for some positive ones! Below are a few (via @SkipPrichard). Follow this link to read his entire post – 24 Quotes to help you relax when you are stressed.

Your mind will answer most questions if you learn to relax and wait for the answers.” – William Burroughs

“There is more to life than increasing its speed.” – Mohandas Gandhi

“Sometimes the most productive thing you can do is relax.” – Mark Black

  • Nothing can bring you peace but yourself.
  • Ralph Waldo Emerson

Wednesday, March 11th, 2020

Always Look Successful

“Opportunities don’t happen. You create them.” Chris Grosser

You ask your clients for a substantial amount when you provide services. You are a professional and it has taken a lot of investment in college education, your continuing professional education and simply keeping current on trends in your area of expertise.

I believe your fees should reflect your expertise, professionalism and your success. How do your clients know you are professional and successful? They base it on what they see and how you act.

You should never feel guilty about charging clients what you are worth! But, I believe you need to show them that you are successful. They base their opinions on things like:

  • How you dress each business day.
  • The kind of car you drive.
  • Where you live.
  • Where you dine.
  • Where you are visible in your business and charitable community.
  • Your conversational skills.
  • Your abilities to write proficiently and speak confidently.

Even if you are a new CPA, you are a professional working in a professional firm. Clients sometimes see you and often talk with you via phone. They assume because you are a CPA, that you have all the technical skills. They judge your professionalism, your success, and your worth by a lot of other things. This is especially true when you are interacting with potential clients, successful business people who really don’t know you.

  • The starting point of all achievement is desire.
  • Napoleon Hill

Friday, February 28th, 2020

Set Clear Expectations For Your Clients

“If you expect nothing from somebody you are never disappointed.” – Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar

I admire firms that are proactive with their clients. So many CPAs just wait on the client to call if there is an issue they need help with. Surveys have told us over and over again that clients want their CPA to be more proactive.

Be more proactive when it comes to obtaining the client’s tax information. For most firms, it is an annual, painful drama. Here’s a message one firm has sent out (in late February) to their clients. It went out in an email. It is a simple thing to do and guess what? It might help!

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Have We Received Your Personal Tax Information?

April 15th will be here before you know it! Have you turned in your personal tax information? Remember, in order to ensure a timely filing of your tax return (to avoid an extension), we must have your information by March 11, 2020. All tax organizers were sent to clients in December of 2019. If you need another copy, please let us know. Please be sure to bring us your information so we are able to get started. If you are waiting for a few items, not a problem! Bring us what you have, we will get started, and then bring in the additional information as it arrives.
 
If you have any questions regarding your personal tax return, please contact our office. Thank you for your help.

  • Treat a man as he is and he will remain as he is. Treat a man as he can and should be and he will become as he can and should be.
  • Stephen R. Covey