Archive for the ‘Culture’ Category

Monday, April 8th, 2019

Podcast – Issues Facing CPA Firms Today

“I am still learning.” – Michelangelo

Thanks so much to Brannon Poe of Poe Group Advisors for talking with me about CPA firm management and for featuring our conversation on his recent podcast.

Brannon-PoeBrannon began facilitating successful accounting practice transitions in 2003 and pioneered a consulting-based approach to transitioning accounting firms, which culminated in Poe Group Advisors’ unique process – The Seamless Succession™.

I know it is a busy week but bookmark the podcast and listen while you are commuting or next week, when you are recuperating from tax season.

  • Yesterday I was clever, so I changed the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself.
  • Rumi

Thursday, April 4th, 2019

Procrastination

“My advice is to never do tomorrow what you can do today. Procrastination is the thief of time.” – Charles Dickens

From an article via Fast Company:

Chronic procrastination has even been linked to higher rates of depression, substance abuse, phobias. and other issues, as Joseph Ferrari, professor of psychology at DePaul University and author of Still Procrastinating: The No-Regrets Guide to Getting It Done, told Stephanie Vozza in a previous Fast Company piece. If you’re in the habit of putting off important tasks until the last minute, you may be able to overcome procrastination by looking at–and dealing with–the root causes.

Just something to think about…..

  • A year from now you may wish you had started today.
  • Karen Lamb

Monday, April 1st, 2019

Busy Week = Short Blog Posts. Topic: Drama

“All the world’s a stage and most of us are desperately unrehearsed.” – Sean O’Casey

If you provide tax services, this might be your busiest week of the year. That is why I am going to keep my daily blog posts very brief this week.

When I ask CPAs if they have any drama in their office I usually get a big chuckle. I don’t think I have ever found a firm without some drama among their team members.

Set a goal, for after tax season, to decrease the drama in your office. It usually comes from a lack of conversations. There are elephants in the room (and in the firm) and no one wants to talk about them.

Never avoid difficult conversations.

  • Don't waste words on people who deserve your silence. Sometimes the most powerful thing you can say is nothing at all.
  • Mandy Hale

Friday, March 29th, 2019

Courtesy Policy

“Politeness is the art of choosing among your thoughts.” – Madame De Stael

You have had an extremely busy week. You are spending SO many hours with your co-workers. You are probably working this weekend and long hours next week. It is natural to become aggravated, at times, with those around you.

I read this small excerpt in an article:

Politeness is the cornerstone of any civilized society. In essence, it is respect for other people’s feelings. This respect is reflected in both thought and action . . . in considering other people’s points of view and behaving in sensitive ways. Unfortunately, in many areas of life, politeness seems to be outdated.

Maybe your firm needs a Courtesy Policy to help remind people that civility is alive and well in your firm and in the CPA Profession. Here’s a sample:

Sample Firm Courtesy Policy

  • If you have a problem with someone, talk about the problem only with them and in private.
  • Use positive conversation.
  • Blame a system, not a person.
  • Apologize and make restitution if someone is upset by your actions.
  • When you talk about a person who is not present, speak as if they are listening to your conversation. Use the person’s name in each sentence in which you refer to them.
  • Speak very politely using a person’s name – – “please” and “thank-you” as a minimum.
  • Greet and farewell everyone by name and with eye contact.
  • Tell the truth.

 

  • The toughest thing about being a celebrity, I suppose, is being polite when I don't want to be.
  • Eric Clapton

Thursday, March 28th, 2019

Morning Person Or Not

“Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new.” – Albert Einstein

I am a morning person. I like to get up early (5:00a) and start the day by reading and drinking a cup of coffee. Then I work most of the morning at a fairly ambitious pace. I have always felt I do my best work in the morning.

It’s not for everyone. Many people are definitely not morning people. That’s the joy of embracing flexible schedules for all your team members.

When I was working in a firm, I would be the first one there at 6:00a, that is when I was most productive. I had a partner who would often work until 2:00a. He was the most productive after 7:00p.

Many firms now provide core hours that they expect people to be available. Outside those core hours, people can work whenever and wherever. Some firms don’t even specify core hours any longer. Are you allowing people to work at their most productive time?

  • If you spend too much time thinking about a thing, you'll never get it done.
  • Bruce Lee

Friday, March 22nd, 2019

Forward Thinking

“Embrace your uniqueness. Time is much too short to be living someone else’s life.” – Kobi Yamada

Did you know that Aprio is the only top 100 firm with a non-traditional name? Read more about Aprio and why they changed their name here.

I have known people at the firm for more than 20 years and have always been impressed with their forward-thinking actions. Look over their homepage and notice how they focus on “advisory” first. They are an “advisory, assurance, tax and private client services” firm.

Under “About Aprio” they say: As a premier, CPA-led business advisory firm.. etc.

How are you positioning your firm? If you call yourself advisors more often maybe you will become more advisory focused. The larger CPA firms have already evolved to being CPA-led firms meaning a large percentage of their employees are not CPAs. How are you planning for that evolution? Have you ever thought about it?

I have observed that most firms have fairly boring taglines. Here’s Aprio’s tagline: “Passionate for what’s next.” That seems to say a lot.

 

  • Always remember that you are absolutely unique. Just like everyone else.
  • Margaret Mead

Friday, March 15th, 2019

Are You The Ritz Carlton of Accounting Firms?

“We are Ladies and Gentlemen serving Ladies and Gentlemen.”  – Ritz Carlton Motto

Right now you are very, very busy. Everyone is the firm is very busy. Are you too busy to take the extra steps necessary to become known as the Ritz Carlton of accounting firms in your market?

Have you ever stayed at a Ritz Carlton? Here’s a site that will give you some info on the Ritz Carlton Gold Standards:

  • The Credo
  • Motto
  • The Three Steps of Service
  • Service Values
  • The 6thDiamond
  • The Employee Promise.

As you read them, you will see how they can apply to a client service business like a CPA firm.

It’s still early into 2019. How will you make your firm the gold standard when it comes to client service?

It’s Friday – time to smile.

  • A hot dog at the game beats roast beef at the Ritz.
  • Humphrey Bogart

Friday, March 8th, 2019

Don’t Forget The Men

“The most important thing in the world is family and love.” – John Wooden

Working in an accounting firm during busy season is a real juggling act. A majority of the staff is made up of young, married people who are raising children.

You can read lots of articles and posts about how working women need help. Don’t forget about the dads.

Young married couples today raise children much differently than baby boomer couples and even some older Gen-Xers.  Men cook, clean, do the laundry, too. Household tasks are shared by the couple and so are the demands of childcare. One young female CPA told me that she and her husband flip a coin to see who stays home with a sick child. Other couples compare calendars and see what makes sense for the day before they decide who stays home.

As you are updating and better defining your benefits program, don’t forget that families need flexibility, not just women.

Here’s an interesting article via @Inc about childcare and Amazon.

  • Happiness is having a large, loving, caring, close-knit family in another city.
  • George Burns

Wednesday, March 6th, 2019

The Welcome Letter

“To me, a lush carpet of pine needles or spongy grass is more welcome than the most luxurious Persian rug.” – Helen Keller

A new client is landed by one of the firm’s partners. They met several years ago at Chamber of Commerce business event. The client knows the partner but how much does he/she know about the firm?

It is important that clients become attached to the firm and not just the partner – for various reasons that some of you know all too well. You don’t want clients to leave the firm just because one person leaves.

Begin building the relationship with the firm at the beginning. In some firms, the first written piece of information a client gets fro the firm is an invoice.

Progressive firms, after a new client is added to the client list, send out a warm and friendly welcome letter. Make it different, put it in writing, on paper and mailed (USPS) to them. It should have a real, written signature on it.

It should come from the managing partner or firm administrator. This helps the client know that there is another person they can contact right away if needed. Eventually, they will get acquainted with the engagement team and build relationships with several people at the firm. However, in the very beginning, they may have many questions and not feel somewhat lost.

Express your appreciation for them joining the firm. It is also a great time to make sure they are aware of your billing and collection policies. Most new clients always wonder about that but have been hesitant to ask.

If you are not doing this or something similar and need a sample, let me know.

  • The soul should always stand ajar, ready to welcome the ecstatic experience.
  • Emily Dickinson

Tuesday, March 5th, 2019

They Are Not The Enemy

“Always forgive your enemies; nothing annoys them so much.” – Oscar Wilde

Have you ever overheard some of your peers talking negatively about a client? Have some team members verbally ridiculed some of the firm’s clients? Do people in the firm often complain about certain clients?

Are clients ever blamed rather than helped?

Yes, clients can sometimes be very frustrating. As tax deadlines approach the stress increases and clients who are tardy supplying their tax information seem to become the enemy.

What if you reached out to them and tried to understand why they are struggling with compiling their information? What if you offered more detailed services to keep them on track throughout the year? Are there some personal issues the client is undergoing that might contribute to their challenges? Dig into the problem and look for unconventional solutions rather than complaining.

Leaders need to set an example and guide the team. Let them know that negative comments about clients are not part of your culture. Encourage ideas from the team on how to make things easier for clients. Their job is to help – the client is not the enemy.

If they are truly the enemy – they shouldn’t be a client.

  • I do not destroy my enemies when I make them my friends.
  • Abraham Lincoln