Archive for the ‘Client service’ Category

Wednesday, March 3rd, 2021

Digital Rainmaking

“Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time.” -Thomas Edison

Times have changed dramatically. The old ways of business development inside CPA firms are gone (for now and maybe forever).

I imagine many firms are not comfortable with pursuing new business in the digital world.

Sarah Dobek, Inovautus Consulting, is offering practitioners the opportunity to invest in digital marketing training.

The training involves four sessions: Session 1: The Intersection Between Traditional + Virtual BD, Session 2: Networking Virtually, Session 3: Best Practices for Integrating Video into the Sales Process, and Session 4: Social Selling.

Don’t sit on the sidelines, get involved with digital marketing. Get more information about this training and the sessions here.

  • The harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph.
  • Thomas Paine

Monday, March 1st, 2021

Succession Planning

“It does not do to leave a live dragon out of your calculations, if you live near one.” – J.R.R. Tolkien

There are many different ways to address succession planning and client transition. This topic is often discussed inside accounting firms. Some firms have elaborate and formal succession plans that are well-documented.

I have observed that many firms, especially small to medium-size firms have not dedicated the time and effort to define a more formal plan.

This topic was discussed recently on the CPAFMA Discussion Board. If you are not a member, you should be.

One member admitted that they did not have a formal document but they do have a list to guide their planning for partner retirements. Tricia Duncan, CPA with Jones & Roth shared their firm’s method. I think you will find this plan helpful if you do not have a formal plan. This one is simple, yet effective. Here is Duncan’s comment on the topic:

We don’t have a formal document – we generally start 3-4 years out from the retirement year.  We develop a plan for each individual that addresses:

  • Client relationship
  • Technical expertise
  • Firm responsibilities
  • Community/Niche/Referral relationships
  • Mentor/Team Responsibilities

Generally, start the planning and execution 1-2 years out.  We try to have client relationships transitioned 1 year out so the last year the Partner is on board is more as an advisory role if questions come up. Our new CRM manages the entire relationship.  This has been critical for us.

We’ve successfully transitioned 5+ partners in the last 5 years.


  • If you don’t know where you are going, you’ll end up someplace else.
  • Yogi Berra

Friday, February 12th, 2021

Don’t Become Invisible

“Vision is the art of seeing what is invisible to others.” – Jonathan Swift

2020 was a challenging year and you had to distance yourself from others. This Friday Flashback Post stresses visibility.

Also, just because it is tax season, it doesn’t mean you are permitted to forget about visibility. During this time of year, CPAs are the heroes – you are working very hard to help others. Stress that theme on your website and other social media sites.

  • Because when some people are invisible, everyone suffers.
  • Gloria Steinem

Thursday, January 28th, 2021

Loving Tax Season

“Urgency makes the difference between practitioners, proclaimers, and procrastinators.” – Richie Norton

Before my consulting years, I received the best basic training possible for a CPA management consultant. I worked in a firm for 30 years. I walked in your shoes. I guess you could say I’ve seen it all – the good, the bad, and the ugly!

I always looked forward to tax season. I did not dread it. I loved it! The firm was prepared for it and so was the entire team. It was like our “game day.”

The best part was that almost all of the trivial things that were on the minds of the team members disappeared. The entire organization was focused on the clients and the work.

Not that the clients were not always the main focus but during tax season the clients were never over-shadowed by internal disagreements, discussions or squabbles.

During tax season there was a heightened sense of urgency. That was the most gratifying part. We did whatever it took to provide awesome client service and to eliminate worries that our clients might be facing.

No one had time to gossip and complain!

The saddest part about tax season coming to an end was that the sense of urgency seemed to almost disappear. I always wished we could maintain that sense of urgency throughout the entire year.

Maybe you see this at your own firm. Take steps to guard and maintain a sense of urgency throughout the year. Continually talk about it and keep the need for urgency alive and well. Make it an on-going battle.

  • A higher rate of urgency does not imply ever-present panic, anxiety, or fear. It means a state in which complacency is virtually absent.
  • John P. Kotter

Wednesday, January 27th, 2021

Think Big

“Go for great. Own your game. Be kind. Get big things done.” – Robin S. Sharma

Working in public accounting, you tend to be driven by due dates.

It is what motivates you. You focus on the little things that hinder the efficient flow of work through the office. You focus on what needs to get out this week or next week. You focus on the immediate challenge, whatever that might be.

When major due dates pass, you spend time recuperating and cleaning-up lots of small things that you have delayed until after the due date.

As for some major decisions that need to be made, you put those on the back burner until after the partner retreat, until the next major due date passes, or until you have enough time.

I have observed that you tend to pay too much attention to little things and too little attention to big things.

When will you ever have time? Some of those BIG things make you uncomfortable. You would rather by-pass confrontation.

Do you need to out-place certain clients, certain employees or even certain partners? Do you need to invest heavily in new technology? Do you need to finally address succession and admit that merging-up is your succession plan?

Don’t wait for summer to come to begin discussing these, and other, big issues with your management group. Pay continual attention to big things, make big decisions and keep moving forward each day, each week, and each month.

  • We forget the little things, so it's no wonder some of us screw up the big things.
  • Neil Cavuto

Monday, January 25th, 2021

Bernie & What Digital Firms Request

“Focus on being productive instead of busy.” – Tim Ferriss

I think we have all enjoyed browsing the hundreds.. thousands… of Bernie memes. I know I had a lot of laughs these past few days.

Of course, the most meaningful Bernie meme, for all of us working in the CPA profession, comes from Shayna Brooke, Founder & Chief Strategist at Shaynaco LLC in Gallipolis, Ohio.

Shayna kindly allowed me to use her recent Facebook post for this blog. Here it is:

Just a reminder that you don’t have to bring your paper tax documents into our Shaynaco LLC office. We have secure web portals available for you to upload any documents and also retrieve documents from us!

  • Do the hard jobs first. The easy jobs will take are of themselves.
  • Dale Carnegie

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