Archive for the ‘Firm Administrator’ Category

Friday, April 5th, 2019

A Refresher On The Overtime Rules

“There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure.” – Colin Powell

An administrative assistant in your office receives a great performance evaluation and then asks you if they can be put on salary. In many CPA firms, it sometimes becomes a dilemma.

Be sure you are abiding by the federal overtime rules. Here’s a link to an article that owners, firm administrators and HR managers might need to read. It could also be shared with your entire team. Your CPAs all need to be able to advise clients when this topic arises.

Don’t work too many long hours this weekend. Next weekend you should be all done – no working! Many firms are able to do this when the due date falls on a Monday.

  • My first job at Gleason's Bar in Cleveland was $800 a week, when I was making $92 a week with overtime at the automobile plant.
  • Chuck Berry

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

Monday, January 28th, 2019

Improving Your Processes

“Trust only movement. Life happens at the level of events, not of words. Trust movement.” – – Alfred Adler

In 2018, after busy season, you and many others in your firm worked very hard to focus on your internal processes. Many firm administrators have explored, revisited, revamped, documented and rolled-out improved processes for the 2019 busy season.

Of course, there will need to be tweaking and modification along the way. One of the biggest hurdles for many CPA firm leaders is that they think procedures need to be perfect before they make changes to the old way. Nothing is ever perfect. My most important piece of advice for making your firm better is DO THINGS!

As your team works through the new, improved processes, make adjustments immediately if the process isn’t working as expected. Never be afraid to fail. You will never move ahead if you don’t have failures.

Be sure you have clearly defined and communicated each process or procedure. Make sure everyone knows exactly what is expected.

I like to share this sample – it is an excellent example of clearly defined steps. It is how to make coffee. Never again can someone in your firm, who left an empty pot on the burner, say, “I don’t know how to make coffee.”

While this is on the lighter side, think about how using this format could help your people more clearly define all of the processes in your firm.

You don’t have to wait until April to work on Action Plans for many of your processes, have the administrative team get started as they come upon challenges during busy season. January through April is also a good time for your tech team, your HR manager and marketing director to better define and clearly document the processes in their areas.

 

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

Thursday, January 17th, 2019

Square Feet Per Person

“There is nothing like staying at home for real comfort.” – Jane Austen

A firm administrator, managing partner or a firm owner faces many things as they try to effectively and profitably manage a growing, successful accounting firm.

One question that might arise is how much office space do we need? It is usually computed via using square feet per person. Of course, now it is even more complex because you have many people working remotely.

Nevertheless, I thought some numbers might be of interest to you. Here are some examples I gathered a few years ago from some actual firms.

  • Firm #1 – 295 sq. ft. per person
  • Firm #2 – 270
  • Firm #3 – 224
  • Firm #4 – 253
  • Firm #5 – 290
  • Firm #6 – 280
  • Firm #7 – 254
  • Firm #8 – 282
  • Firm #9 – 275
  • Firm #10 – 300
  • Firm #11 – 178
  • Privacy is not something that I'm merely entitled to, it's an absolute prerequisite.
  • Marlon Brando

Tuesday, November 6th, 2018

Firm Administrators – Make Sure to Participate

CPAFMA Logo for Web

 

I hope you will take a few minutes to participate in the CPA Firm Management Association Annual Salary Survey. Click the link below.

Annual Salary Survey
It’s time for the CPAFMA’s 2018 Salary Survey data collection. While technology allows us to enhance the survey and receive more data, we have opted to maintain the survey’s reputation of being efficient, accurate and providing the most vital information to our member firms.
As always, confidentiality is our priority.By clicking the button below, you will enter the on-line survey which will take no more than 7 minutes to complete, including the time it has taken to read this email. We are encouraging ALL members to respond by the deadline of November 19, 2018. The more participants, the more valuable the results. Note that the information is collected and compiled by a third party as confidentiality is imperative.

The results will be summarized and shared with members the second week of December 2018.
      SURVEY
  • Positivity, confidence, and persistence are key in life, so never give up on yourself.
  • Khalid

Friday, November 2nd, 2018

Don’t Forget The Administrative Team

“Don’t say, ‘if I could, I would.’ Say, ‘If I can, I will.'” – Jim Rohn

You are beginning to look ahead at next busy season, the one just around the corner in 2019.

For those firms recording time – chargeable and non-chargeable – it is a time when you can use a capacity worksheet to determine whether you have enough people on the bus to adequately take care of client needs in 2019.

It seems firm leaders are always very interested in how many chargeable hours each team members can produce. (Remember, chargeable hours and billable hours are not the same.)

One group that is often ignored is the firm’s administrative team. Yes, your administrative people should be chargeable. If they are doing something that in any way deals with a particular client’s engagement, they should record their chargeable time. They are valuable people providing services that provide value to the client. Let them know you care about how productive (and important) they can be.

  • When something is important enough, you do it even if the odds are not in your favor.
  • Elon Musk

Wednesday, October 24th, 2018

Within Driving Distance of Indianapolis? – Join me!

“Develop a passion for learning. If you do, you will never cease to grow” – Anthony J. D’Angelo

I know many of you are not within driving distance – but I also know that Indiana has many great CPA firms and the Indiana Chapter of CPAFMA has a great membership.

So, mark your calendar for Friday, November 16th. I will be speaking at the Indiana Chapter meeting. It is a morning presentation so you can have all afternoon to drive back home (or to the office).

My topic is “Surviving Change in the CPA Profession.” It is an exciting time to be a CPA or working in a CPA firm, but how is your firm preparing future? It is not a time for a “wait and see” attitude.

Follow this link to download a document that gives you all the information about the meeting and how to register.

The very first CPAFMA I ever attended over 30 years ago was in Indianapolis. The Indiana Chapter is near and dear to me.

  • Education is what remains after one has forgotten what one has learned in school.
  • Albert Einstein

Monday, October 22nd, 2018

Have You Been Promoted to a Leadership Position?

“You can’t escape the responsibility of tomorrow by evading it today.” – Abraham Lincoln

Have you just been hired as a Firm Administrator? Have you just been promoted to a manager-level position in your firm?
Have you been “one of the team,” whether it is the accounting team or the administrative team, and all of a sudden you are now in a position of visible leadership?

Things have changed. You must act differently now. You can compare it to being a passenger in a car or being the driver.

Passengers have more freedom to do things that drivers can’t do. As a passenger, you can cut-up, listen to loud music, focus on the passing landscape, eat snacks and generally horse-around with other passengers. The driver has to focus on the road and not get distracted. As a driver, you no longer have the right to goof around.

The same thing applies as you become a manager. You are no longer a passenger, you are the driver. Your responsibilities increase and, yes, you lose some freedoms you may have enjoyed as a passenger.

Example: If you are the manager, you don’t have the right to join in the whining about the topic of the day with the other staff. As a manager, you do not gossip or complain about upper management. When you are the manager you no longer have the right to blame others for a problem. You no longer have the right to avoid issues or choose to not make a decision. As a manager, the buck stops with you.

You even lose control of your time because you are responsible for other people’s time (as well as your own).

The first managing partner I worked for put it very simply to me when I got my very first promotion. He was the founder and a very traditional, hard-working, old-school CPA managing partner.

He said to me, “You are now on salary and part of management. You need to work whatever hours it takes to get the job done.” I knew a change had occurred. I was no longer a passenger.

  • Have you ever noticed that anybody driving slower than you is an idiot, and anyone going faster than you is a maniac?
  • George Carlin

Thursday, September 13th, 2018

GOFER or NOT?

 “In business, what’s dangerous is not to evolve.” – Jeff Bezos

Is your firm administrator (aka, Practice Manager) a gofer or a take-charger?

Many CPA firms have various titles for the person this person. Often it depends on the size of the firm. It could be an office manager, executive assistant, firm administrator, director of administration, chief operating officer, practice manager, and others.

No matter what the title, the mission is the same, to save partners valuable time. What the partners do with that “saved” time is a topic for another day.

It is an executive position and, over time, takes complete responsibility for the operations of the firm. This means everything that goes on behind the scenes. Most Practice Manager job descriptions are quite expansive and include processes, procedures, human resources, financial activities, marketing, facilities, and technology. If you need a sample job description, let me know.

If your managing partner is using this person as a gofer (someone who just does what they are told and immediately reports back), you’ve got it all wrong.

It is a take-charge position and if you have someone who is happy being a gofer, you’ve got the wrong person.

If you are in this role and not operating at a take-charge level, don’t hesitate to speak up and ask for more responsibility, training, and education. So much is available via the CPA Firm Management Association.

  • Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.
  • Steve Jobs

Tuesday, September 11th, 2018

Trust Those Around You

“The best way to find out if you can trust somebody is to trust them.” – Ernest Hemingway

Trust is a word that is thrown around the CPA profession all of the time. “Most Trusted Advisor” is familiar to most of you. CPAs have been claiming that mantra for many years now.

I see that the AICPA even has a Trusted Client Advisor Toolbox and Workshop.

Let’s explore trust a little deeper as it exists inside accounting firms. Here’s a familiar story about firm administrators. The administrator is an experienced professional. He/She takes over most of the day-to-day operations of the firm from the partners and implements procedures to make processes flow smoothly inside the firm. Soon the managing partner is distanced from the details (a very good thing) and can focus on managing the partners. The managing partner trusts that the firm administrator will take care of things.

Trust imparts obligation. The firm administrator takes that responsibility very seriously and works diligently to not disappoint the partners.

In my consulting work, I have experienced many situations where staff members do not trust the partners (owners). Building trust that goes both ways is a continual activity in a firm with a healthy culture. Not there yet? Keep working at it.

  • Trust is the lubrication that makes it possible for organizations to work.
  • Warren Bennis