Archive for the ‘Helpful Information’ Category

Thursday, February 27th, 2020

Don’t Be Afraid of Feedback

“Nobody’s perfect. We all have blind spots and perspective gaps. We need negative feedback if we’re going to grow.” – Justin Bariso

Are you afraid of feedback? I hear stories from many CPA firms about the lack of support for upward feedback surveys and client feedback surveys. Once a firm leader told me that her partners were afraid of upward feedback – afraid it would be negative and hurtful. Another leader stated, “Our partners don’t want to do an upward feedback survey. They said they don’t care what our people think.” Oh, my.

Elon Musk recently made the following statement (tweeted) relating to his solar tile product. “Please let us know what improvements we can make to any aspect of Tesla SolarGlass roof! Critical feedback is much appreciated.”

The key statement here is the last sentence: Critical feedback is much appreciated.

Are you, as a firm leader, appreciative of critical feedback?

Tell us what we can do better. – – That should be the statement you are continually making to your clients and to your people. Then, listen and take action.

Read this informative article by Justin Bariso (via Inc.).

  • When the feedback comes, don't view it as an attack. Rather, see it as a gift--a chance to learn.
  • Justin Bariso

Wednesday, February 26th, 2020

I Call It the Bad Apple

“To keep poor performers in place is to risk the future of the firm.” – Ron Baker

Recently, I read a great article by Ron Baker (you all know Ron Baker!).

His title for the article is Negative human capital and how it affects your firm. I simply call it The Bad Apple and have blogged about it several times. That being said, you MUST read Baker’s article.

Here’s an excerpt:

We do people no favors when we let them languish in a job they are not capable of performing well, or for which they have no heart. The philosophy, “hire slow and fire quick,” is sound advice. How do you know when it is time to let someone go? Ask yourself if you would hire this person again. Think how you would feel if this person came to you and said he or she was leaving to pursue another opportunity.

It is simply unacceptable to other team members to keep people in the firm who are not meeting expectations. The negative morale effects are significant, and will ripple throughout the company. Poor performers are not good role models, do not make good mentors, and may even be damaging customer relations. If the leaders don’t make these tough decisions regarding the most important form of intellectual capital in their firms, who will?

In my consulting work, I have observed that partners make excuses upon excuses for why they can’t let some go even when the entire staff would breathe a sigh of relief. Even when the person has caused repeated turnover because people cannot put up with their bullying.

It only takes 7 minutes to read the entire article.

  • We do people no favors when we let them languish in a job they are not capable of performing well, or for which they have no heart.
  • Ron Baker

Tuesday, February 25th, 2020

Pay Attention to Collections

“Debt is normal. Be weird.” – Dave Ramsey

During my consulting and advisory work with firms, the collection policy topic comes up on a regular basis. I have posted about this before but I think it might be time to revisit this topic.

Collections are one of those things inside a CPA firm that is fairly simple but that seems to become complicated when you are dealing with multiple partners. My message to CPAs: You are running a business and effective collections is a basic business activity.

Here are my thoughts on CPA firm collections.

A documented, widely published Collection Policy is the foundation for good cash flow.

  • It must come from the top – all owners.
  • They need to meet, discuss all of the options and arguments then come to agreement on what they can truly live with, for the good of the firm.
  • Management drafts the document and all owners review and approve.
  • The written policy is communicated to all team members and is posted on the firm’s Intranet.
  • Everyone involved – managers, staff, controller, administrative assistants, firm administrator thoroughly understands and monitors compliance with the policy
  • AR statements should be mailed monthly to ALL unpaid accounts, with no exceptions.
  • Your collection administrator should routinely write notes/requests on the AR statements when a client is slow to pay.
  • A service fee should be applied for balances over 30 days.
  • I recommend that collection activities should be performed by a part-time administrative person (collection administrator) who is skilled in client communication and has no other priorities. This person’s role is also defined in writing and they operate within certain parameters.
  • They begin calling (not emailing) at 31 days. Some say 45 days but it is better to do it sooner. Often the client has just misplaced your invoice.
  • When the collection administrator exhausts all avenues with a particular, difficult client or when it ages beyond 90 days, it goes back to the partner in charge of the client account for collection, along with Managing Partner involvement. Work stops at the 90-day point.

Also, consider having your firm administrator send a welcome letter to every new client that includes a copy of your collection policy.

The bottom line – all partners must agree to follow the published procedures, if they cannot, they must keep working on the policy until they CAN all agree.

  • If you think nobody cares if you're alive, try missing a couple of car payments.
  • Earl Wilson

Tuesday, February 18th, 2020

Teaching Staff the Secrets of Marketing & Sales

“I recently went to a new doctor and noticed he was located in something called a Professional Building. I felt better right away.” – George Carlin

Are you teaching your young accountants how to become successful as rainmakers? If they want to be on the ownership track, they need to be able to bring in new business to the firm. That’s an overwhelming assignment for new hires.

The journey begins in their first week by having new recruits meet with your marketing director as part of orientation. The MD will simply explain how it all works and share all the tools the firm has available to help them succeed.

No expectations are set (that happens later down the road) except that the beginner CPA needs to be visible and attend business, civic and charitable events along with a more experienced CPA.

A helpful exercise is to host a lunch and learn where two or three of the firm’s best business developer partners participate in a panel discussion about how they became successful at attracting new clients to the firm. Each partner will have a slightly different success story and the entire staff is invited to the lunch and learn to listen and ask questions.

Never let marketing/sales be a surprise to your team members. Make it part of your culture and provide the tools necessary to help them succeed.

  • Nine tenths of education is encouragement.
  • Anatole France

Tuesday, February 11th, 2020

What Are You Reading?

Even if you are always busy, find time to read. Of course, read the most beneficial and motivational business books. But, don’t stop there. Read for enjoyment and meaning.

While on a winter get-away, I found a copy of Tuesdays With Morrie in the villa we rented. I’m sure you have heard of it. I hadn’t read it in years so I re-read it. It’s an easy read.

Here is just one takeaway:

“Find someone to share your heart, give to your community, be at peace with yourself, try to be as human as you can be.”

If you are “too busy” to read the book, read these 14 inspiring quotes.

  • If you really want it, then you’ll make your dream happen.
  • Morrie Schwartz

Monday, February 3rd, 2020

Make Your Clients Say Wow

“Don’t be yourself – be someone nicer.” – Mignon McLaughlin

When was the last time you did something to show your most valued clients and lucrative prospects that you are thinking about them?

What about doing something for your team members during the next few stressful months?

How about sending them some green bagels on St. Patrick’s Day (I know a local law firm that did this every year)? Deliver a pumpkin pie just before Thanksgiving. It could be something as small as some of your promo items – pens, post-it notes, notepads, coffee mugs or candy with the firm logo.

For your team, it could be a thank-you note to their family for being so understanding during tax season. A handwritten thank-you note to the team member when they have gone above and beyond. It could also be new coffee mugs, portfolios, logo shirts or candy sent to their home on their birthday.

fullsizeoutput_45bdThis came to mind because I received a promo package from OnPay, an online payroll processing service last week. It contained a small box of candy, a nice coffee mug, lip balm, and some great coffee. I was thrilled and it did cause me to write this blog post.

What can you “cause” your clients and team members to do by just being thoughtful?

  • I always prefer to believe the best of everybody, it saves so much trouble.
  • Rudyard Kipling

Monday, January 27th, 2020

Fight it! – Procrastination

“You may delay, but time will not, and lost time is never found again.” – Benjamin Franklin

I have observed that accountants are masters at procrastination.

Definition: Procrastinate: delay or postpone action, put off doing something.

You would think that people who are deadline driven would avoid procrastination. That doesn’t seem to be the case. Here’s what I have seen over and over again during my several decades working in public accounting.

Procrastination is practiced throughout tax season and as due dates near, fire drills begin. Thus, hectic and stressful times reign for ten days before the due date.

Procrastination runs rampant after a partner or management retreat. The common excuses are:

  • We are too busy.
  • We can’t work on it now (the firm initiative), we are too busy with performance reviews.
  • The fall due dates are approaching.
  • We have to do so much tax planning in December.
  • We will have to wait until after April 15.
  • After April 15, too many people are taking time off.

Experts tell us that most people procrastinate because they don’t like what they do. If you love what you do, you procrastinate less.

According to Jeffrey Gitomer, there are two things you can do to fight procrastination – 1) Set a false (earlier) deadline, and 2) Enjoy the deadline, instead of lamenting it.

I usually approach completing tasks this way. I do what I dread first and then can enjoy the projects I am passionate about.

If you are not passionate about what you mostly do, you better find another job.

  • In a moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing to do, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing.
  • Theodore Roosevelt

Friday, January 24th, 2020

Provide Training For Your Leaders – Please!

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

Convergence Coaching’s Spring Transformational Leadership Program™ (TLP) is open for registration! This year-long program kicks off at the end of May and is designed to take high-potential managers, senior managers, principals, and newer partners to their next level of success in leading others and the firm.

So much is changing. Now is the time to expand your visibility & take on a meaningful role to drive change at your #firm. Learn the skills you need to advance your #role with the @ConvergenceSays TLP. Here is a helpful video –  https://youtu.be/xKP8KeKFMkg

For more detailed information about this valuable program, click here.

The program fills up quickly so don’t wait too long to register.

  • Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.
  • Benjamin Franklin

Tuesday, January 21st, 2020

Reading For Tax Professionals

“Am I unhappy at my job?” – Tony Nitti

Whether you are a tax professional, another accountant or an admin professional working inside a public accounting firm I hope you will take the time to read this Forbes article written by Tony Nitti.

It is titled, The Five New Year’s Resolutions Every Tax Pro Should Make.

I know! You are busy. You are always busy. Find the time to read.

  • You don't have to love your career every day.
  • Tony Nitti

Monday, January 20th, 2020

Retaining Top Talent

“It doesn’t make sense to hire smart people and then tell them what to do; we hire smart people so they can tell us what to do.” – Steve Jobs

It is very difficult to find and hire talented accountants and administrative personnel. Accounting firms have been struggling for years with this topic and it only seems to be getting more challenging. So, once you do hire a qualified person, how do you keep them?

I recently read a good article via HBR titled, Why People Quit Their Jobs.

In the CPA profession, we have heard for years that the reason people leave their jobs is the fact that they have a poor manager (boss).

Research now tells us that there is more to it than just a bad manager. Technology has enabled companies to better track reasons people leave jobs. A lot of it is personal reasons. Another interesting aspect is that large companies are tracking what employees are doing that might indicate they are unhappy with their current job like how much time they spend on LinkedIn.

It seems that comparing themselves to their peer group – both business peers and personal friends causes people to consider their current job status.

Take a few minutes to read the article, I think you will find it helpful in your quest to retain top talent.

  • Hiring the right people takes time, the right questions and a healthy dose of curiosity. What do you think is the most important factor when building your team? For us, it’s personality.
  • Richard Branson