Archive for the ‘Firm Administrator’ Category

Thursday, November 17th, 2022

Relentless Problems

“Relentless problems feel like driving around with garbage in the backseat. You wonder if the journey’s worth it.” – Dan Rockwell (@Leadershipfreak)

Do you have ongoing, relentless problems that seem never to get solved? If you work in a CPA firm, I bet you do.

Dan Rockwell recently did a post titled, Don’t pretend things smell good when they stink – Instead Shift Focus.

I have observed that people inside a CPA firm, including leaders, seem to aggressively avoid dealing with these problems. They don’t seem to mind “driving around with garbage in the backseat”.

Read the article. It gives you a lot of good solutions on how to deal with stinky problems. Don’t pretend things smell good when they stink.

  • When someone walks into your office with a bag of garbage ask, “What strengths do you have that enable you to seize this opportunity?"
  • Dan Rockwell

Monday, November 7th, 2022

The On-Going Dress Code Saga – Crop Tops

Style is a way to say who you are without having to speak.” – Rachel Zoe

Over the years, I have heard CPA firm administrators ask the question repeatedly – what does your dress code specify?

I thought we solved the dress code issue when we all accepted “business casual” years ago.

Soon, it became, what does business casual encompass? We fought the open-toe shoes (sandals) topic but gave in. We accepted jeans on Friday, which soon became jeans every day. Getting people back to the office after COVID we accept shorts now (but not short shorts?)

The latest is how to wear a crop top that is office acceptable. So, are you modifying your dress code once again to accept a new trend, crop tops?

I try to accept all this as simply amusing. People who are seriously building their careers know that people judge you immediately on first impressions.

  • You can have anything you want in life if you dress for it.
  • Edith Head

Wednesday, November 2nd, 2022

November

“If you love life, don’t waste time, for time is what life is made up of.” – Bruce Lee

This is the month.

To me, November has always been “the month.” It is a critical month in the cycle of CPA firm life.

When I suggest change, I have heard the following from CPAs for decades!

  • December – I am too busy with tax planning, doing engagement letters, and getting organizers out the door.
  • January – It is W-2, and 1099 time; we are too busy.
  • February – April – We are too busy .
  • May – We need a break. We have to unwind. I am taking a vacation.
  • June – We have to do performance reviews.
  • July – Mid-August -Too many people are on vacation.
  • August – Sept. 15 – We have extensions to do!
  • Sept. 15 – October 15 – We have to focus on 1040s.
  • October 15 – Oct. 31 – Again, another time to de-stress.
  • November……It is the month you need to focus on the health of your firm.

I call it what goes on behind the black curtain. It is the things the client doesn’t see.

It is all about identifying and improving processes and procedures. It is all about identifying and improving the things that cause your employees to be engaged and loyal or not. It is about embracing new ideas and accepting the fact that change must happen if you are to remain relevant to your employees and important to your client base.

Don’t waste this month! Create an Action Plan and accomplish as much as possible. Too bad you have waited until November. Don’t waste time this month!

  • Time is one of your most valuable commodities and how you spend it determines what your life will be. You can either waste it, invest it or give it away.
  • David Khalil

Thursday, September 29th, 2022

Recent Podcast

“Learning never exhausts the mind.” – Leonardo da Vinci

I really enjoyed talking with Blake Oliver of Earmark CPE for his podcast. You can earn free CPE if you listen. They have titled it “If You Want to Grow, You Need a COO” on #EarmarkCPE.

Register for free: https://app.earmarkcpe.com/?course_id=33397f4d-43a9-4553-8803-44ffc4624c16

  • I am always doing that which I cannot do, in order that I may learn how to do it.
  • Pablo Picasso

Monday, September 19th, 2022

The Firm Administrator

“It is difficult to bring people to goodness with lessons, but it is easy to do so by example.” – Seneca

If your firm does not have a firm administrator (practice manager), you are missing out on a huge cost savings. The FA does what partners are doing and shouldn’t be doing, you know, administrative and management work. The FA handles all firm operational activities. When a FA takes away most of the partner time spent on HR, financial affairs, marketing, technology, etc., it gives partners more time to be more chargeable (that adds up to a lot!) to mentor young accountants and bring in new business.

The FA acts as a communication link between partners and all other staff. The FA arranges firm activities, parties, and networking events and does a lot of coaching and supervising that turns new hires into professionals.

They are often a listening ear and a problem-solver for minor conflicts among the staff. They are a role model demonstrating professionalism at all times.

I always think of the firm administrator when I see this cartoon via Far Side. Check it out and replace the words border collie with firm administrator!

Invest in your firm administrator by providing on-going learning opportunities. Have them join CPAFMA. To provide them with a mentor/coach, contact me.

  • Our networking event is total chaos! No one knows when to eat, where to stand, what to... Oh, thank god! Here comes the firm administrator.
  • Rita Keller - via Far Side

Wednesday, September 14th, 2022

It’s On Your Shoulders

“The price of greatness is responsibility.” – Winston Churchill

I have noticed that many firms, during the last few months, have announced the promotion of several new partners. Those new partners might be thinking, “Wow, I finally made it, now I will have people who will help and support me and do what I ask!” That way of thinking, as a partner, couldn’t be more wrong.

Instead of being at the top of the pyramid, partners are actually at the bottom of an upside-down pyramid. You, as a new partner (or as a firm administrator), are holding up all the other people who work at your firm.

Maybe you had a summer picnic or another gathering for your team and their families. Think about all of those people in attendance – adults, and children. You are responsible for them and their welfare. Your firm is the source of financial security for all those people. The success of the firm leads to the success of your employees.

What you do as a partner has ramifications. People trust you and your judgment.

  • If you hang out with chickens, you're going to cluck and if you hang out with eagles, you're going to fly.
  • Steve Maraboli

Monday, August 15th, 2022

It takes time

“Some quit due to slow progress, never grasping the fact that slow progress is progress.” – Jeff Olson

Seth Godin makes a good point in a recent post. The point: Some things take time. Here’s an excerpt:

Both The Shawshank Redemption and The Big Lebowski bombed. If “bombed” means that during the first few weeks, no one went to a theater to see them. Since then, tens of millions of people have seen and talked about these movies.

But the events that change our culture often happen over time, distributed across parts of the population too small to notice.

Godin notes, “Drip by drip makes a wave.”

If you need to make some significant changes inside your CPA and you are getting a lot of push-back from some of the partners, you need to take baby steps. Sudden and abrupt change is not something CPAs embrace wholeheartedly.

Another similar phrase I use when making changes inside CPA firms is “constant gentle pressure.” Taking baby steps and applying constant gentle pressure will move the firm forward. Plus, once some forward motion is obtained, change seems to flow more freely and rapidly.

  • Focus on progress not perfection.
  • Bill Phillips

Thursday, June 16th, 2022

An HR Refresher

“I am convinced that nothing we do is more important than hiring and developing people. At the end of the day, you bet on people, not on strategies.” – Lawrence Bossidy 

Maybe your firm is large enough to have a dedicated HR director. In many firms, the firm administrator (practice manager) is the one who fields most HR questions. No matter what size your firm YOU need to be careful what you say or do, especially if you are a partner or manager.

Here’s a good reminder/refresher from Inc. – “If you say one of these 11 phrases at work, prepare to be sued.”

Here are the eleven phrases. Have you ever said them? Read the entire article and share it inside your firm.

  • “I’ll just 1099 this employee.”
  • “He’s salaried, I don’t need to worry about overtime.”
  • “Non-competes are not enforceable, right?”
  • “I’ll handle this EEOC charge on my own.”
  • “This complaint is stupid, I’m not even going to respond to it.”
  • “Aren’t you proud that we have an all-female [or any other protected characteristic] team?”
  • “I’ll just find an employment contract online.”
  • “I’m going to dock your pay if you…[fill in the blank].”
  • “I’m a nice guy, I don’t want to have that conversation.”
  • “Just tell them they are performing fine.”
  • “This employee is a problem, let’s move them to a different role.” 

The article explains each phrase.

  • Train people well enough so they can leave. Treat them well enough so they don’t want to.
  • Richard Branson

Wednesday, May 18th, 2022

Be Creative – Do Things!

“Creativity is seeing what others see and thinking what no one else ever thought.” – Albert Einstein

I have observed that many CPAs wait for other CPA firms to go first and then they will follow that new idea, software, process, or procedure.

So many partners, over many years, have asked me, “What are other firms doing?” I urge you to enlist your entire team in being more creative. What suggestion does that 2-year person have that might save everyone a lot of time? What has your firm administrator been urging the firm to try for a couple of years? So what if it doesn’t work. Try something else.

Once again, I offer a complete blog post from Seth Godin.

EVERYONE ELSE IS

Well, not everyone. Just most people.

When you do something that everyone else is doing, you’re likely to get what everyone else is getting.

But in almost every population, “everyone” leaves out the people who go first, who change things, who are weird and who challenge the status quo. That’s an option, even when it doesn’t seem that way.

Mass culture gets us more mass culture. It’s not the only choice.

  • A creative life is an amplified life. It's a bigger life, a happier life, an expanded life, and a hell of a lot more interesting life.
  • Elizabeth Gilbert

Thursday, May 5th, 2022

Committees

“I am not a committee.” —Princess Leia, The Empire Strikes Back

As May the 4th was yesterday, the above quote via Princess Leia caught my attention. Can you believe that Star Wars was released 45 years ago on May 25?

Anyway, back on topic. When I hear the word “Committee” in a CPA firm, I cringe. Please keep in mind that your firm is a business, not a non-profit. Trying to manage by committee will just slow you down and create confusion and power struggles.

Establish a management structure with a qualified, inspired Managing Partner and a professional, skilled, efficient Firm Administrator (Practice Manager) to carry out the routine duties of managing the business.

Occasionally, you might need to establish a Task Force to focus on one specific area or initiative. The best thing about a task force is that it is not ongoing. It completes its duty and disbands. Also, keep in mind how much non-productive time many partners spend if you have them on various committees. The pandemic has shown us just how much people hate meetings!

Major issues such as mergers or firing a partner would, of course, require full participation by the ownership group but day-to-day the “other” partners need to be bringing in business, serving clients, and mentoring staff.

  • If you want to kill any idea in the world, get a committee working on it.
  • Charles Kettering