Archive for the ‘Services’ Category

Wednesday, March 20th, 2019

Keep Them Coming Back

“I hate flowers – I paint them because they’re cheaper than models and they don’t move.” – Georgia O’Keeffe

This time of year you are counting your wins and losses.

This busy season you have several, if not many, new clients. You probably give them more attention then they deserve. You also are keenly aware of the clients that have moved on to another accounting services provider. Some of those still have a sting about them.

Those new clients are valuable. However, please don’t give your long-time, loyal accounts less attention because you are focusing on the new toy.

Don’t let losses over-concern you. Keep moving forward and keep giving the best service possible. Continually, work to be the most knowledgeable and friendliest firm in your market.

One of my clients told me some good news this morning. This season, three former, significant clients who left the firm for greener pastures (or so they thought) have returned. They left for various reasons but came back because they all realized “cheaper isn’t better” and “because I realized I need you”. How sweet it is!

  • When I was with Andy Warhol, I thought, 'God, his wig looks cheaper than mine!'
  • Dolly Parton

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

Monday, January 14th, 2019

CAS – Client Accounting Services

“Success is not final; failure is not fatal: It is the courage to continue that counts.” – Winston Churchill

I have been talking to my clients a lot recently about CAS (Client Accounting Services). To me, for many firms, it is something that they should pursue. Even many of the Top 100 firms are using it and capitalizing on a growing and profitable opportunity.

Smaller firms seem to be less enthusiastic. For most smaller firms, it does require a digital transformation, elevating technology into a much broader role. Jim Boomer of Boomer Consulting, in a recent article, describes digital transformation:

Digital transformation

First is digital transformation. Moving up the continuum of value from transactional and compliance work to performance and strategic services requires elevating technology a much broader role. We must automate “low or no value” steps in the processes to improve the client experience.

Technology is the foundation of your firm’s ability to move up the continuum of value. So start assessing and evaluating available technologies and considering how your existing clients can benefit from new technologies.

No single software will have all the features to meet the needs of every client. Start with a primary, comprehensive accounting software and then use other add-on solutions that integrate with your main accounting software. This will provide the efficiency gains of automation.

If you want your firm to move from compliance to advisory services, Boomer also warns that your business model must also change. You need to address things like:

  • Value pricing
  • Marketing
  • Staffing
  • Client interaction

Read Jim Boomer’s informative article here.

 

  • It is better to fail in originality than to succeed in imitation.
  • Herman Melville

Thursday, January 10th, 2019

How to Become Virtual

“Mergers generate substantial synergies.” – Roger Altman

Virtual CPA firms have been evolving for many years now. Many have gained much notoriety and a substantial client following.

I enjoyed reading this article about my good friends at Beach Fleischman, a Top 200 firm based in Tucson, Arizona. The joined forces with a smaller firm to create a virtual firm, MOD Ventures, that will service both firms’ outsourced accounting services clients going forward.

Read all about it here, via Accounting Today. Maybe it will motivate you and your firm to become more creative and take advantage of virtual opportunities.

  • Fight for the things that you care about, but do it in a way that will lead others to join you.
  • Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Thursday, August 9th, 2018

Outsourced Accounting

“Knowledge is of no value unless you put it into practice.” – Anton Chekhov

CPA firms are seeing amazing growth in the area of outsourced accounting services. It not only is of immediate value to clients, it also provides the accountant with the ability (and information) to become even more of a trusted advisor.

Recently, Bill.com released the results of a survey they did regarding the use of outsourced accounting services. They have furnished a report on their findings – What Businesses Really Think of Client Accounting Services. You can download the report here.

In the introduction, Bill.com founder, Rene Lacerte, notes:

We are a nation of outsourcers.

In our personal lives, we outsource both simple and complex tasks—everything from grocery shopping to planning for retirement. We aren’t lazy or incapable, but we know that if we let the experts handle these tasks, they will be done right and allow us time to focus on what matters most. Outsourcing reinforces our priorities.

Businesses, too, are well acquainted with outsourcing. Disciplines ranging from IT to customer support to HR have all found their ways to hire experienced professionals outside of the corporate structure. Now, outsourcing all accounting is gaining traction.

The accounting profession has talked about client accounting advisory services (CAS) for a decade, speculating on the best ways a firm can solicit and handle all of a company’s accounting and finance department needs. For accountants, holding the reins to the company’s financial performance gives them unparalleled insight into the business and the ability to surpass a transactional state in favor of strategic advice and planning. It creates the platform for impactful contributions.

While accountants understand the benefits of CAS, what do businesses think about outsourcing their accounting? If you’re considering starting or expanding your CAS practice, it is good insight to have before you begin.

In this survey with CPA.com, we asked more than 1,700 small and medium-size businesses to share their opinions on outsourcing accounting. The results are summarized in the following pages. Respondents told us how much they’re outsourcing today, what they’d like to outsource, what they appreciate about it, and how it benefits their customers.

The survey data underscores just how important CAS can be to both firms and their business clients and how it will continue to grow and gain even greater value in the accounting world.

  • Love all, trust a few, do wrong to none.
  • William Shakespeare

Tuesday, June 5th, 2018

Client Acceptance

“The first step toward change is awareness. The second step is acceptance.” – Nathaniel Branden

A potential new client calls and wants to meet you and possibly hire you and your firm. You are thrilled – a new client!

More and more potential clients are contacting you via your website to inquire about services. You are thrilled – a new client!

They come into the office for a complimentary first meeting. This is where you need to be careful and not be so thrilled.

They talk and talk. You talk and talk. Before you know it you have given them a couple hours of FREE consultation. Because you are a nice person and want to help people you have also probably given them valuable advice on their financial situation without them becoming a client.

Many people who contact you, are not a suitable client for your services. Don’t invest too much time upfront.

Yes, put the word out there that you offer a free one-hour consultation for prospective clients. But, establish a script for that first meeting to learn more about them so you can decide whether they are a suitable candidate for your firm. Don’t accept clients that do not fit your criteria for an “A” client. Your expertise is not a fit for everyone. Invest one hour, no more until they sign the engagement letter.

The establishment of a valid billing and collection policy begins with client acceptance.

  • Acceptance doesn't mean resignation; it means understanding that something is what it is and that there's got to be a way through it.
  • Michael J. Fox

Thursday, June 29th, 2017

Training Your Clients

SethGodin“Differentiate to succeed.” – Seth Godin

Love this post by Seth Godin:

Training customers

If you frequently run last-minute sales, don’t be surprised if your customers stop buying things in advance. You’re training them to wait.

If you announce things six or seven times, getting louder each time, don’t be surprised if your customers ignore the first few announcements. You’ve trained them to expect you’ll yell if it’s important.

If you don’t offer someone a raise until they find a new job and quit, don’t be surprised if your employees start looking for new jobs.

The way you engage with your customers (students/bosses/peers) trains them on what to expect from interactions with you.

Drip, drip, drip.

I have blogged several time about setting expectations for your clients, yes training them. For example, training them to submit their 1040 information ON TIME.

As Godin notes, if you continue to accept slow responses from your clients, they know you are okay with them being tardy. If you accept shoddy, poorly document “books” from clients, they realize that they don’t have to expend much effort before they deliver their year-end info to you…. and so on. (We all know the “shoe box” clients!)

The same thing applies to your team. Godin’s point about giving someone a raise once they announce they are quitting sounds awfully familiar to what I have observed in the CPA profession.

  • Marketing is no longer about the stuff that you make, but about the stories you tell.
  • Seth Godin

Tuesday, June 6th, 2017

Strategic Plans and Fairy Tales

“Never look back unless you are planning to go that way.” – Henry David Thoreau

I really enjoyed a recent post by Jeffrey Gitomer titled, Business Plans, Five-Year Spreadsheets, and other fairy tales.

How about your strategic plan? Have you looked at it recently? Have all your partners looked at it often over the last year and talked among themselves about how well you are doing with the plan? I bet not.

What about the business plans for a new niche inside your firm? You had a young partner anxious to specialize in business valuation, for example. You asked him to bring a business plan to the partner group for discussion and approval. The group like it, approved it and…. it hasn’t been looked at since. It hasn’t been monitored nor has it been followed. Perhaps, it was just a fairy tale!

I think you will enjoy Gitomer’s article. Much of it sounds familiar to those of you working in a CPA firm. He also includes some great suggestions.

  • Plans are nothing; planning is everything.
  • Dwight D. Eisenhower

Friday, June 2nd, 2017

Think About Quality

“The goal as a company is to have customer service that is not just the best but legendary.” – Sam Walton

Many firms proclaim, “We provide quality client service.”

A recent post by Seth Godin caused me to think about quality service in a more critical light.

Is your firm simply meeting client expectations? Or, are you exceeding client expectations? Do dare go for service that is even higher?

socksYear ago at Accountants Bootcamp, we learned that the goal should be much more lofty than meeting expectations.

I you want to distinguish yourself from other accounting firms, aim high and aim to provide awesome client service – you might call it “Knock your socks off client service.”

  • Every great business is built on friendship.
  • J. C. Penney

Wednesday, January 18th, 2017

Client Accounting Services

Consultants, firm associations, state societies, the media and the AICPA have all been telling you about the opportunities available if you offer Client Accounting Services.

Yes, many firms used to think that “write-up” work was very low margin work. The cloud and technology have made it very lucrative.

galeRead this excellent article from Gale Crosley‘s recent newsletter:  “From ‘Dull’ and “Commoditized’ to an ‘International Star'”.

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  • Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.
  • Mark Twain