Archive for the ‘Client service’ Category

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

Wednesday, October 21st, 2020

Being Visible

“The power of visibility can never be underestimated.” – Margaret Cho

I have written often about the importance of branding and how being visible helps build your firm brand and it is also how you build your personal brand.

Here is a link that will take you to a search I did on my blog for stories about brands and rebranding. You might want to read some of them.

This year has been a difficult year for branding and personal visibility. You haven’t attended Rotary meetings, you haven’t seen many clients face-to-face even though some of you are lifting the “no clients in the office ban.”

Many of you have done a great job of keeping your clients informed, especially on the PPP topic.

For your firm: Keep sending all clients informational emails and doing timely blog posts about current issues. They count on you for this information.

For your personal branding: Tell stories on your firm Facebook page about various partners and other team members. Send more personal, individual emails to your assigned clients (whether you are a partner or a staff person working on a client’s engagement).

Share your personal Facebook page with some clients (if you are sure it is appropriate). They just might be interested in what you are doing with your life during these unique times.

Do more than just use the phone – let your clients talk to you often via Zoom, Skype other video channels.

Being visible is a great way to build your brand. Visible is just different for the time being.

  • Out of sight, out of mind. The absent are always in the wrong."
  • Thomas a Kempis

Monday, October 19th, 2020

Distracted

“All distracted leaders are ineffective.” – Dan Rockwell

Are any of the leaders in your CPA firm distracted? This might be a very touchy subject among the leadership group.

Of course, all people working in accounting firms have had to fight the distraction battle in 2020. As you have read (and experienced), working from home has resulted in an abundance of distractions.

Today, I am talking about your partner group and the outside distractions they may be facing (or allowing) that divert their attention from effective firm management and client service.

Does your partner agreements cover the fact that partners might be distracted (hampered from working) due to personal illness?

Perhaps a partner’s spouse has a serious illness yet the partner continues to try to work yet client service suffers and staff complain that the partner is not available or responding to questions.

Do your partners have outside interests/investments, like real estate activities or separate personal businesses that distract them during business hours on a regular basis?

I always advise, “Keep your eye on the ball.” Or, “Don’t kill the golden goose.” A successful and profitable firm can change course when owners are distracted.

Read the above quote again.

  • An addiction to distraction is the end of your creative production.
  • Robin Sharma

Thursday, October 15th, 2020

October 15

“This isn’t a hospital! It’s an insane asylum! And it’s your fault!” – – Sally Kellerman (Hot Lips) in MASH (1970).  Substitute the word firm for hospital.

For many CPA firms, you are down to the wire on extended individual income tax returns and all of the activity that surrounds that huge event.

Clients were late providing their information while still expecting immediate attention. They are often just plain rude to your Director of First Impressions. Partners have high expectations of the tax team, partners and the tax team have almost unreasonable expectations of the administrative team. Yet, you all pull through and give the best service possible.

Happy October 15th!

  • Be sincere; be brief; be seated.
  • Franklin D. Roosevelt

Wednesday, October 7th, 2020

A Title Doesn’t Make You a Leader

“Leadership is personal, not positional.” -Skip Prichard

There is a young staff accountant who is always pleasant, polite, positive, and punctual. He sets a great example for his peers.

There is the senior accountant who seems to be the one staff person who cares about the first-year accountants and goes out of her way to make them feel welcome, gives good feedback and does not make them feel stupid!

There is the Director of First Impressions. She is always smiling. She makes callers and visitors feel special when they call or visit the firm. She offers them refreshments and is a skilled conversationalist. Her positive personality affects everyone working at the firm.

These people are not partners or managers. They are not classified as leaders, yet they are definitely demonstrating their leadership abilities.

  • To establish yourself in the world a person must do all they can to appear already established.
  • Francois de La Rochefoucauld

Wednesday, September 16th, 2020

The Day After

Thinking is the hardest work there is, which is probably the reason so few engage in it. ~ Henry Ford

September 15th has come and gone. As you know it is a major due date for the CPA profession.

This year the due dates have been rather unusual but you all still felt the pressure of the September due date and there is still one on the horizon – the October 15th due date for extended personal returns.

You love what you do but, like most things of value, it requires hard work. I imagine you have heard the poem, First Fig by Edna St. Vincent Milay. It just might apply to you.

First Fig

My candle burns at both ends;

It will not last the night;

But oh, my foes, and oh, my friends-

It gives a lovely light.

  • The only place where success comes before work is in the dictionary.
  • Vidal Sassoon

Thursday, September 3rd, 2020

Your Foundation

“The important thing is that you’ve got a strong foundation before you start to try to save the world or help other people.” – Richard Branson

Does your CPA firm have a solid foundation?

I often talk about the internal workings of a firm as the foundational issues. Do you have effective and efficient processes and procedures as it relates to client service and also how it relates to human resources issues? If there are many different ways to accomplish client work, it cannot be as efficient as having one way, the FIRM way. In too many firms, the way work is completed depends on the partner-in-charge of the client engagement.

Of course, there are other foundational issues relating to the services you offer and the needs of your clients. Those issues are changing. The once-solid foundation of the CPA profession consisting of accounting, tax, and audit is becoming rather shaky!

Joey Havens, CPA, CGMA, is the executive partner at HORNE LLP. He offers us a closer look at your foundation in his article, Five Ways Firms Can Solidify Their Business Foundation via the AICPA, CPA Insider. Take a few minutes to read his tips.

  • Great persons are great because of good, strong foundations on which they were able to build a character.
  • Alfred Armand Montapert