Archive for the ‘Crafting Your Career’ Category

Tuesday, December 17th, 2019

Listen to Learn What Clients Need

“If people believe they share values with a company, they will stay loyal to the brand.” – Howard Schultz

We have heard it over and over again from speakers at conferences and read it over and over again in CPA marketing publications. It is seven times easier to sell services to current clients than it is to obtain a brand new client. Client loyalty is priceless.

As with many activities inside a firm, you need a system, a process, a questionnaire or a checklist. You need some type of tool to help your accountants actually explore the future needs of current clients.

Some firms call it the Additional Services Checklist.  Others may call it The Expanded Services Questionnaire or The Enhanced Opportunity Checklist.  No matter what you name it, it is a sales tool that your team can use to find out how the firm can truly better and fully serve your clients. Once they have the checklist/questionnaire, they can simply listen more intently when they are talking with a client or working in the client’s office.

The goal is to bring extra value to your clients.  CPAs call it value-added as if their normal services don’t have much value. In these changing times, compliance services are looked upon as only a way to discover advisory services that the client needs.

Do all of your team members, even the most recent college recruits:

  • Know what to look and listen for while they are at the client’s location?
  • Been educated/informed about all of the firm’s service offerings?
  • Know what to do if they recognize an opportunity and who to refer it to inside your firm?

If you answered “no” to any of these, take action.  Host a lunch & learn in early January and talk about all the value-added services your firm offers. Provide the entire team, including the admin team, with a listing of questions/items to apply to the clients and give them the name of the partner to seek out for guidance if they identify an area where your firm can bring more value to the client.  Just having this simple questionnaire or checklist seems to give everyone more confidence.

During the lunch and learn, experienced partners and managers can speak-up and give practical advice to the less-experienced team members.

  • Get closer than ever to your customers. So close that you tell them what they need well before they realize it themselves.
  • Steve Jobs

Monday, December 16th, 2019

Have We Become Afraid of Hard Work?

“The only place where success comes before work is in the dictionary.” – Vidal Sassoon

I enjoy reading airline magazines. I find they contain interesting news items and articles about a variety of topics.

I remember reading an opening editorial a few years ago, written by the then CEO of Delta. He made a statement that CPA firms could certainly utilize: “At Delta, we take great pride in our culture of hard work, creativity, teamwork, and a simple commitment to get the job done right.”

Did you notice the two words – hard work? The CEO communicates it clearly – they are not ashamed of their culture of hard work. They take pride in it.

It seems, in recent years, we have become almost afraid of communicating with our employees that public accounting is hard work. If you work hard you can become very successful.

Do you communicate that to your people? Are you proud of your culture of hard work?

  • A dream does not become reality through magic; it takes sweat, determination, and hard work.
  • Colin Powell

Wednesday, December 11th, 2019

2020 Is The Year To Invest In Your Future Leaders

“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” – John Quincy Adams

For many years, I have been a fan of The Growth Partnership’s Partner Institute. This class is a must for those currently or soon to be in leadership positions with your firm.

Here is some information on their 2020 program.

If you’ve been considering enrolling your future leaders in The Partner Institute™ 2020, now is the time to act. There are only a few spots left. Once the class fills up, you won’t have another opportunity to participate in The Partner Institute™  until next year.

This three-year, multidisciplinary program will help your senior managers and young partners develop the personal, interpersonal, managerial, and organizational capabilities they need to assume leadership roles within your firm. For more information, follow the links below.

The next session of The Partner Institute™ begins January 16-18, 2020 at the Boardwalk Inn at Walt Disney World. Reserve spots for your team members by submitting registration and a deposit of $500 per person. Participants can attend the initial course and then decide if the program is right for them. If they elect to continue, we will invoice accordingly.

For more information, please visit The Partner Institute online

or call them at 877-226-0496, or email:

info@thegrowthpartnership.com.

  • Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.
  • John F. Kennedy

Tuesday, December 10th, 2019

Field Trips

“Research in education has shown that we remember field trips long into adulthood. I remember visiting the post office in second grade and looking at the sorting machine. I have vivid memories of that when I don’t even remember the name of the teacher who took me.” – Neil deGrasse Tyson

Many people working in an accounting firm never have an opportunity to visit a client site. With technology playing a much larger role in compliance work, team members who used to do what we call fieldwork don’t even do that as much as in the past.

Why not choose one of your best clients, a small manufacturer, a candy maker, even a winery and ask if you can bring your entire team for a tour of their business. Of course, if you are a large firm you will have to work out taking smaller groups to different client sites.

One of the basics of business networking I learned many years ago was to begin a conversation with a business owner, simply ask them, “Tell me about your business.” They love their business. It’s their baby and they enjoy talking about it.

You know your clients well and can easily identify the ones who would love to show visitors around and talk about their business.

I have talked to several firm leaders who have already tried this and it is appreciated by the client and the team.

amazonI recently toured an Amazon Fulfillment Center near Louisville, KY. What an eye-opening and interesting experience. It had four floors and the square footage was the size of 28 football fields!

  • Only now have I finally realized that my life has been an unending field trip. And I have tried hard not to be a tourist. But to be an adventurer, a traveler, an explorer, a learner, and a pilgrim.
  • Robert Fulghum

Thursday, December 5th, 2019

Communication & Inclusiveness

“Before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself. When you become a leader, success is all about growing others.”  – Jack Welch

To develop an enthusiastic and loyal team it is important to communicate and be inclusive. Firm leaders should be doing this every day.

Many firms take the opportunity to do this on a higher level at least once a year with a full firm retreat, state of the firm event or similarly named gathering. I had the wonderful opportunity yesterday to be part of Kirsch CPA Group’s full firm event in Hamilton, Ohio.

IMG_0878The three partners, John Kirsch, Chad Williams, and Pete Abner each talked to the team about firm performance, future focus and the unveiling of a new training program that will provide each team member with a full-fledged career development plan that is backed up with extensive educational opportunities.

Recruiting and retaining isn’t enough. Now it is about attracting and developing. You want talented accountants to seek out your firm because your brand is a strong magnet for people who want to advance their careers in public accounting.

  • Become the kind of leader that people would follow voluntarily; even if you had no title or position.
  • Brian Tracy

Thursday, November 28th, 2019

I Love to Share This on Thanksgiving.

ThanksgivingEvery day is a time for being thankful. Enjoy family, friends, and food. Most of all, be sure your day is filled with laughter.

I love this, from WKRP in Cincinnati, and share it often on Thanksgiving.

I am especially thankful for all of you, followers of my blog – thank-you for reading!

  • When it comes to life the critical thing is whether you take things for granted or take them with gratitude.
  • Gilbert K. Chesterton

Friday, November 22nd, 2019

Flashback Friday – Thinking of Being Thankful

“Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.” -William Arthur Ward

With the upcoming holiday next week, I thought this flashback post from last November would be a good one to end this week with and to take into next week.

Public accounting firms are great places to work. Think about some of the things you are thankful for about your career in public accounting.

Click here.

  • Gratitude is riches. Complaint is poverty.
  • Doris Day

Wednesday, November 20th, 2019

A Job Description Is Important – But, There Is More

“Friends and good manners will carry you where money won’t go.” – Margaret Walker

Offering individualized job descriptions to your staff is definitely something you should be doing. I find that in smaller firms, job descriptions are something that is not always offered. Employees just learn what they should do and they do it.

The next-gen workforce (Gen Z) wants to know exactly what will be expected of them. Career development is a must. They are ambitious and desire opportunities for advancing in their careers. Set clear, concise expectations for them.

There are probably several people on your team who might bristle when asked to do a certain task. They are thinking, and probably don’t say it out loud, “that’s not in my job description!”

The truth is, there are many things that you must do in an office environment that are not spelled out on your job description.

Seth Godin, in one of his blog posts, listed things that are missing from your job description if you work in an office. Below, are a few (read the entire list here.)

  • Ask why
  • Treat customers better than they expect
  • Feed the plants
  • Highlight good work from your peers
  • Cut costs
  • Organize a bookshelf
  • Smile a lot
  • Leave things more organized than you found them
  • and many more

Here are some that apply to an accounting office. I bet you can add more!

  • Never leave a mess at the coffee station
  • Don’t mess with the thermostat
  • Don’t eat someone else’s lunch that is in the frig
  • Greet every client who might be sitting in the lobby
  • Always offer a visitor a coffee or soft drink
  • If you have an issue with a peer, talk to them about it and no one else
  • and many more!

Read about my CPA Firm Courtesy Policy here.

  • Good manners and graciousness pave the way for future favors. Bad manners crumble the road.
  • Terri Guillemets

Monday, November 11th, 2019

The Problem Might Be You

“Influence means your behaviors matter. The people around you – to some degree – reflect you.” – Dan Rockwell, Leadership Freak

If you are a partner in the firm and it bothers you when people are not punctual yet, you often come into the office late, others think it is okay.

If you are the manager on a review engagement and because you are experienced, you cut a corner or two, others think it is okay.

If you are at the Senior level in a firm and you are not completely accurate and punctual recording your time on jobs, others think it is okay.

If you are the firm administrator and you occasionally take an extended lunch hour for no particular reason, others think it is okay.

No matter what your title, your peers and others observe what you do and are influenced by your actions. What you do and the behaviors you adopt make a difference – you are an influencer.

You can also strive to be a GOOD example. That also influences others.

 

  • Example is not the main thing in influencing others. It is the only thing.
  • Albert Schweitzer

Friday, November 8th, 2019

Accountants & Emotional Intelligence

“Emotional intelligence begins with self-awareness.” – Justin Bariso

There has been a lot of talk and many things written about accountants having a fairly low EQ (Emotional Intelligence). CPAs are often cautious, conservative, reserved and hesitant to show any emotion. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t focus on raising your level of emotional intelligence.

Last December I did a post titled, You Are Business Smart. Are You Feelings Smart? I mentioned Justin Bariso and his 3-Second Trick (to help with EQ).

Bariso recently wrote another article to help with EQ in his column via Inc. Take This 5-Minute Test to See if You Have High Emotional Intelligence. I hope you will take 5 minutes to see where you stand. Do you think before you speak? Do you learn from negative feedback? –and several more good questions to ask yourself.

  • Paying attention to body language, eye movement, and tone of voice helps emotionally intelligent people to distinguish what's going on in others.
  • Justin Bariso