Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Friday, September 17th, 2021

Flashback Friday – Subscription Pricing

“Price is what you pay. Value is what you get.” – Warren Buffett

This week’s flashback post is a recent one. I think it is definitely worth reading again. It describes Ron Baker’s subscription pricing model.

Now that 9/15 has passed, I hope you have a real weekend – enjoy!

  • Pricing is actually pretty simple...Customers will not pay literally a penny more than the true value of the product.
  • Ron Johnson

Wednesday, September 15th, 2021

A Jerk Free Firm

“In my opinion, we don’t devote nearly enough scientific research to finding a cure for jerks.” – Bill Watterson

Recently, a comment from Allan Koltin caused me to give some thought to what a jerk-free firm might be. Koltin noted that if you had a jerk-free firm, the firm would be more likely to have appeal as a merger candidate.

I have observed that most CPA firms have at least one jerk at the leadership level. It could be a partner, a manager, a male, or a female but their jerkdom is well-known and dreaded. Sometimes they are even ridiculed among the team members. Usually, interns can identify the jerk within a week or so and can often do a great job of doing a comic imitation of that person.

Here is a link to where you can read about jerks in the workplace. But how do you define a jerk personality in an accounting firm?

Someone who:

  • Talks excessively but never listens.
  • Takes credit for other people’s ideas.
  • Is always last minute causing chaos close to due dates.
  • Doesn’t respect other people’s time.
  • Leaves a mess in the lunch room for admin to clean up.
  • Ignores the FIFO method for processing work and puts their jobs first.
  • Seems to have no understanding that you have a personal life.
  • Rarely express appreciation of gives recognition for a job well done.
  • Openly makes fun of other people (staff/clients) and gets involved in the grapevine.
  • Dodges client calls when they know there is a problem and delegates it to someone else.

I could go on but you can add to this list if you want.

I suggest you strive to develop a jerk-free culture by establishing some guidelines and goals. Be sure you have identified the firm’s core values and expect all partners to live by them and set a good example

Here is an example of some values that help make a jerk-free workplace;

  • Client focused – Always sriving to provide awesome client service
  • Focused on excellence pertainig to hiring, establishing processes and working environment.
  • Keeping our word – I always think of something Sam Allred said at a retreat many years ago as it applies to partners: “I will do what I say I will do, on time, without reminders.”
  • Team oriented – Everyone at all levels are expected to give and receive feedback to help themselves and the entire team to continually improve.
  • Self-sufficient – I will be a problem solver; not one who creates problems for others to solve.

Be able to say without hesitation, “We are a jerk-free firm!”

  • Of the billionaires I have known, money just brings out the basic traits in them. If they were jerks before they had money, they are simply jerks with a billion dollars.
  • Warren Buffett

Monday, September 13th, 2021

Leadership Development

“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” – John Quincy Adams

Once again it is time to remind you of the leadership development programs offered by Convergence Coaching. Too many firms have ignored the need for structured leadership development programs and thus limit their choices when considering firm succession.

Convergence’s flagship program:

Transformational Leadership Program™ (TLP) – Kicking off with a remote web seminar on November 1, participants pay $6,500 for the year. This one-year “finishing school” for high-potential managers, senior managers, directors, new partners and key administrators includes a combination of one-on-one coaching, two 2-day workshops (in-person or can pivot to remote if needed), 2-hour web-based roundtables, online self-study and a special in-firm project. Participants join a cohort of up to 26 other leaders from firms around the country, learning both from facilitators and each other in this year-long program.

There are also other programs for up-and-comers in your firm:

  • Leadership Development Program for Seniors and Supervisors (Kicking off October 25)
  • Client Advisor Program (Will soon be scheduling 2022 dates)
  • Rainmaker Development Program (Will be scheduling 2022 dates)

Here’s a graphical view of the programs available:

  • A leader takes people where they want to go. A great leader takes people where they don't necessarily want to go, but ought to be.
  • Rosalynn Carter

Friday, September 10th, 2021

Flashback Friday – Essential Questions

“It is not the answer that enlightens, but the question. – Eugene Ionesco

Many of you are planning a Fall partner retreat. I know you will work diligently to establish a well-thought-out strategic plan.

When you are all finished, answer some important questions posed by David Maister.

Read this Flashback post from 2018.

  • Judge a man by his questions rather than his answers.
  • Voltaire

Wednesday, September 8th, 2021

Cover Letters

“A well-written cover letter can be the difference between winning or losing a job opportunity.” – Larry Sheftel, Aprio

It is always great to be featured in The Journal of Accountancy. Thank you to Teri Saylor for contacting me to discuss the power, lack of power, and use of cover letters for resumes.

Do you expect a cover letter when someone submits a resume? Do you even care? Some beneficial information can be obtained from someone who writes an exceptional cover letter if the hiring manager at your firm actually reads it.

I believe that cover letters have almost become a thing of the past. Everyone seems to be in a hurry these days and do not think of including a cover letter. Those doing the hiring are also in a hurry too and don’t even read a cover letter if it is included.

I asked one of my clients if they always expect a cover letter with a resume. He said yes because they ask in the ad, “submit your resume and cover letter to…. ” They don’t care about the cover letter but they just want to see how many people follow instructions!

I hope you take the time to read the article. It was also nice to be featured along with my friend, Larry Sheftel of Aprio (pictured).

  • In looking for people to hire, look for three qualities: integrity, intelligence and energy. And if they don't have the first, the other two will kill you.
  • Warren Buffett

Tuesday, September 7th, 2021

Subscription Pricing

“You’re going to have to define the kind of customers you want, which is much easier if you’re niched.” – Ron Baker

Ron Baker has been talking about value pricing since 1994. You have read his books and heard him speak many times.

In a recent article, he makes the case for subscription pricing. We are keenly aware of subscription pricing. Many things from Netflix to shaving supplies can be bought via subscription.

Baker says, “It’s what I’m calling Value Pricing 2.0 – the subscription business model.”

Read Baker’s article via Thomson Reuters, titled: “Subscription pricing for tax and accounting services? I know this is a great idea because it scares the hell out of people.

Baker thoroughly explains the pricing model. He also covers how it is better for an accounting firm than traditional pricing models.

As with most things from Baker, I think you will find this very interesting.

  • It always amazes me that some firms have $100,000 clients and yet they have a bunch of $500 clients — that’s insane.
  • Ron Baker

Wednesday, September 1st, 2021

Build A Marketing Culture

“Doubt is a killer. You just have to know who you are and what you stand for.” -Jennifer Lopez

As baby boomers retire and many of them have already, the firm is usually faced with a shortage of rainmakers. Of course, their knowledge and experience with technical work are also missed.

Firms have spent many years and a lot of money developing technical experts. But, have they spent many years and lots of money developing rainmakers? The answer is no.

It is so important to instill the responsibility and expertise for bringing in new business in everyone working at the firm, especially the younger accountants. I have observed that firm leaders don’t begin early enough to develop future rainmakers. Here are some suggestions on how to build enthusiasm for marketing.

Marketing Education From Day One – As part of orientation, be sure your new hire spends some time with your marketing director (or firm administrator) to learn about firm marketing efforts. One marketing director gives the newbies a “tour” of the marketing closet, showing them the firm marketing collateral and giving them their business cards on the first day. Set a goal for them to distribute their business card to twenty people their first week at the firm. Assure them that they can give it to friends and even relatives, just for the practice. The marketing director has a lot to teach new hires.

Provide Opportunities to Practice – Organize a marketing skills lunch and learn for staff. At my firm, we even talked about the proper way to shake hands and had them practice with each other. Have them develop their elevator speech (how they quickly describe what they do and who they work for in an informative and brief way).

Establish Accountability – A simple, easy-to-use marketing activity report is an important tool for new staff. Sometimes, even managers need marketing education. The marketing activity report is submitted to the marketing director every month.

Leaders Setting The Example – Young people learn from observing others. Do all your partners frequently attend community and business events? Are your partners writing articles for the firm newsletter? Do you have some partners who blog, tweet, or do podcasts?

Always Have A Shadow – Partners and more experienced accountants should always offer to take a beginner along on a prospect meeting. When you have a lunch meeting with a current client, invite a beginner. You can flatter your important client by saying, “Today I have asked Ned Newbie to join us for lunch. He is new to the firm and just learning how CPAs work. I thought he could learn benefit from attending a lunch meeting with an important client like you.”

Building the enthusiasm for marketing doesn’t happen naturally for accountants. Don’t wait until a manager is being considered for partnership before they know that bringing in business is an expectation.

  • Your attitude, not your aptitude, will determine your altitude.
  • Zig Ziglar

Monday, August 30th, 2021

How Does A Prospective New Client View Your Firm?

“Details matter, it’s worth waiting to get it right.” – Steve Jobs

Those of you who know me, know that I am, and always have been, an Apple fan. I had the first Mac when it looked like a little robot box and of all things, it had something called a Mouse! Our son had an Apple IIe when he was in middle school. I wish I had bought stock back then!

I came across a great article via Inc. A story about a Windows devotee who had an Apple Store experience. Take a few minutes and read it. See if there is something you can learn about client service from the story.

I love this one sentence in the article, “I’m deathly allergic to inauthenticity.”

Here’s the story, “I Spent $2,000 at the Apple Store and Got an Invaluable Lesson in Consumer Psychology.”

  • You have to be burning with an idea, or a problem, or a wrong that you want to right. If you're not passionate enough from the start, you'll never stick it out.
  • Steve Jobs

Tuesday, August 24th, 2021

Your Value Proposition

“When you bring your best to the table, no matter where you are or what you are doing, you bring out the best in others. And soon, you start to realize, that, in turn, helps them bring out the best in you.” – Bruce Tulgan

If you are a regular reader of this blog, you know that I admire Bruce Tulgan. Tulgan is an American writer specializing in management training and generational diversity in the workforce. He is a dynamic and informative speaker. When I first read his book It’s Okay To Be The Boss, I was hooked and have read and followed his books and articles for years.

I was fortunate to hear him speak live and got to meet him and have him sign my copy of It’s Okay.

In a recent article Tulgan addresses the topic of an employer value proposition. If you want to have an advantage as an employer, begin with defining a clear value proposition for potential new hires.

Keep in mind that not one value proposition fits every role. Tulgan lists many questions an employer must ask themselves before they can define a purposeful staffing strategy.

Be sure to read the article to learn more and to learn about the eight Dream Job Factors.

  • Leverage your uniqueness.
  • Bruce Tulgan

Thursday, August 19th, 2021

You Are Already A Consultant

“Every great move forward in your life begins with a leap of faith, a step into the unknown.” – Brian Tracy

All the talk these days is about CPAs becoming consultants to their clients and not just compliance service providers.

There are even various training programs to help CPAs make the large leap (I say that sarcastically!).

It is not a “leap” for you. You are already performing consulting services and have done it for years. Partners and managers in public accounting firms have been advising, coaching, and consulting with clients as part of their normal activities.

I see the problem being how you code your time. You record time to Tax when it is actually consulting. Why do CPAs do this when most firms already have service codes specifically for Consulting.

There are two reasons. One, they just code it to tax out of habit, and without thinking that they are really not doing tax work, they are performing “Advisory Services.” Some firms have codes titled, MAS – Management Accounting Services that many partners rarely use. Two, they do not use the MAS codes because they have a higher billing rate associated with those codes and they do not want to charge their clients more for that type of work.

The challenge facing CPA firm leaders is teaching younger accountants and involving them in consulting/advisory services earlier in their careers.

  • It always feels too soon to leap. But you have to. Because that's the moment between you and remarkable.
  • Seth Godin