Archive for the ‘Retreats’ Category

Monday, May 3rd, 2021

Mission – Vision – Purpose

“Leadership is the capacity to translate vision into reality.” – Warren G. Bennis

I still encounter some confusion about how to write a meaningful mission, vision, or purpose statement for your firm or organization.

Some CPA partner retreats actually get bogged down in this endeavor while crafting their strategic plan.

purpose statement provides the reason or reasons you exist. It is about why you exist, whereas the mission is about what you do and for whom. … Some organizations find that a mission statement alone suits their needs, whereas others prefer to use a purpose statement.

Read more about the difference between these statements in this brief, informative article.

  • The only thing worse than being blind is having sight but no vision.
  • Helen Keller

Friday, April 23rd, 2021

Your Plan – Flashback Friday

“If you don’t know where you are going, you’ll end up someplace else.” – Yogi Berra

Perhaps you are now planning your partner retreat or maybe a full-firm planning day. Check out this post from May 2020. Don’t let this be your plan!

  • Plans are only good intentions unless they immediately degenerate into hard work.
  • Peter F. Drucker

Monday, October 5th, 2020

After the Retreat

“Unless commitment is made, there are only promises and hopes; but no plans.” – Peter Drucker

Think about how you felt immediately after your last strategic planning retreat. I have observed it first-hand many times. During the wrap-up conversations partners and other attendees feel relieved, enthused, optimistic even happy.

Next, think about how you felt one month after your retreat. Do you even remember that you felt relieved, enthused, optimistic and even happy?

You return to the office and there are voice messages and emails that need attention. There are team members awaiting your return so they can ask questions or obtain your opinion and there are family and other personal commitments you must meet. That is why I strongly urge you to develop specific action steps that will help you accomplish the FEW important initiatives identified at your planning retreat.

Everything is changing so rapidly that it is difficult to really comprehend what your firm will need to do two years from now. To keep your firm moving forward, identify two or three initiatives, document the steps it takes to accomplish each one and commit to getting them accomplished in 12 to 18 months.

It is each participant’s duty to actively participate. See the quotation above. If you don’t commit, there are only promises and hopes, but no plans.

  • Duty is what one expects from others; it is not what one does one’s self.
  • Oscar Wilde

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

Tuesday, November 12th, 2019

Should Sole Practitioners Have Retreats?

“Stop thinking in terms of limitations and start thinking in terms of possibilities.” – Terry Josephson

If you are part of a smaller firm, with one owner or two partners and are reading this blog – my answer is a resounding YES!

Just because you don’t have a multi-partner firm doesn’t mean you should not devote a special time and place for strategic planning. Try involving your entire team in the planning session. When I have facilitated these types of planning sessions, the employees contribute an amazing amount of relevant ideas and suggestions.

Sole practitioners who include their entire team in sculpting the firm’s future are making a positive difference for their firms. I believe it is a tactic that smaller firms should embrace wholeheartedly. It’s not too late to have this type of session in December or early January. It could even be a half-day event with a follow-up session in late April.

  • Take a chance! All life is a chance. A person who goes farthest is generally the one who is willing to do and dare.
  • Dale Carnegie

Thursday, August 15th, 2019

Don’t Let Day-to-Day Take Over Your Retreat

“Strategic thinking starts with the end in mind.” – Pearl Zhu

If you are planning your fall retreat, plan your agenda carefully.

So many things are going on inside the firm such as issues with people and their performance, a renegade partner or secondary office, the progress on technology upgrades, the lack of new business coming in the door and so on.

Don’t let all the daily noise cloud your retreat. Put one thing on the agenda – strategic planning – then do it.

What are the big-picture items you need to address? Things that affect the future of the firm and things that will force partners to think of the firm before themselves.

Explore and discover what your firm is truly all about (vision/mission/purpose), identify (or review) your core values, uncover what needs to be done to prepare your firm for the next generation or for an upward merger. If your firm is not growing steadily, that is a huge issue to discuss. All partners must generate new business. Discuss and document the expectations for every partner. Actually talk, face-to-face, about issues within the partner group that everyone has always swept under the carpet. Address that elephant in the room!

If you don’t have a solid strategic plan to share with your team you will soon experience turnover. Talented people can easily move on to a firm that is transparent, forward-thinking, growing and creating a culture where they can see, in advance, where their career is heading.

 

  • Be strategic about productivity. Do less exceptionally well, instead of doing more in an average way.
  • Laurie Buchanan, PhD

Wednesday, June 19th, 2019

Be Sure You Have a Plan

“If you don’t know where you are going, you’ll end up somewhere else.” – Yogi Berra

Here is a simple message for today:

“I remember saying to my mentor, ‘If I had more money, I would have a better plan.’ He quickly responded, ‘I would suggest that if you had a better plan, you would have more money. You see, it’s not the amount that counts; it’s the plan that counts.'” – Jim Rohn

Your partner and/or management retreat is coming up. Make sure you come out of it with a plan. Don’t waste two days of your time and then not take action.

  • A goal without a plan is just a wish.
  • Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Monday, May 13th, 2019

What About Your Elephants?

“Productive conversations turn conflict into collaboration, reduce costly mistakes and create a culture of accountability.” – Marlene Chism

It’s the beginning of partner retreat season for public accounting firms.

From my experience and from many conversations with CPA partners and practice managers, during these retreats, there always seem to be an “elephants in the room.”

Elephant in the room definition from the urban dictionary:  n. A very large issue that everyone is acutely aware of, but nobody wants to talk about. Perhaps a sore spot, perhaps politically incorrect, or perhaps a political hot potato, it’s something that no one wants to touch with a ten-foot pole. 

From my experience in pre-retreat preparation, partners will individually tell their facilitator that they want the elephant in the room topic to be approached and solved but as a group, they want to avoid it completely.

The staff also are aware of the elephant in the room topic. It is difficult to address for various reasons, including power structures and cultural issues but putting it on the back burner time after time is even more disruptive.

This year actually discuss your elephant in the room. Here’s a helpful article from Marlene Chism – The undiscussables: How to address the elephant in the room. The article will also help you better express your concerns when you are giving performance feedback.

You can follow Marlene on Twitter: @StopYourDrama

  • Knowing your feelings won't change the facts, but knowing the facts can change your feelings.
  • Marlene Chism

Monday, February 4th, 2019

The Most Difficult

“The difficulty lies not so much in developing new ideas as in escaping from old ones.” – John Maynard Keynes

There is something you should do but it is very hard to do. It is difficult and challenging and easy to avoid.

As a leader in a CPA firm, you read about new trends. Many of you attend one or even more CPA firm management conferences each year. You are involved in your state society and take an active part on committees, etc. During these activities, you learn about what your firm needs to do to move successfully into the future.

You bring these ideas back to your firm. If you are a partner you probably set the date for a firm leadership (or partner) retreat. You spend a lot of money on the venue and the facilitator. You make sure that the new trends are on the agenda of the retreat.

At the retreat, the need for change and the adoption of the new trends into the firm is heartily agreed to by the attendees. A strategic plan or action plan is developed. Everyone is excited.

IntentionsIn the weeks and months following the meeting, nothing happens. You are too busy. It seems everyone else is also too busy.

The most difficult thing is taking action. As I often say when describing change inside an accounting firm, “Good intentions, no implementation.”

  • The best way out of a difficulty is through it.
  • Will Rogers

Friday, August 3rd, 2018

Flashback Friday – Commitment

“Duty is what one expects from others; it is not what one does one’s self.” – Oscar Wilde

Partner retreats and firm retreats can be very invigorating but what happens afterward?

Here’s a 2016 post about Commitment.

Have a great weekend!

  • Unless commitment is made, there are only promises and hopes; but no plans.
  • Peter Drucker