Monday, April 8th, 2019

Podcast – Issues Facing CPA Firms Today

“I am still learning.” – Michelangelo

Thanks so much to Brannon Poe of Poe Group Advisors for talking with me about CPA firm management and for featuring our conversation on his recent podcast.

Brannon-PoeBrannon began facilitating successful accounting practice transitions in 2003 and pioneered a consulting-based approach to transitioning accounting firms, which culminated in Poe Group Advisors’ unique process – The Seamless Succession™.

I know it is a busy week but bookmark the podcast and listen while you are commuting or next week, when you are recuperating from tax season.

  • "Yesterday I was clever, so I changed the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself."
  • Rumi

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

Thursday, April 4th, 2019

Procrastination

“My advice is to never do tomorrow what you can do today. Procrastination is the thief of time.” – Charles Dickens

From an article via Fast Company:

Chronic procrastination has even been linked to higher rates of depression, substance abuse, phobias. and other issues, as Joseph Ferrari, professor of psychology at DePaul University and author of Still Procrastinating: The No-Regrets Guide to Getting It Done, told Stephanie Vozza in a previous Fast Company piece. If you’re in the habit of putting off important tasks until the last minute, you may be able to overcome procrastination by looking at–and dealing with–the root causes.

Just something to think about…..

  • "A year from now you may wish you had started today."
  • Karen Lamb

Wednesday, April 3rd, 2019

Circumvent The Problem

“One day’s delay is another day’s lack of progress.” – Stuart Bowen

There is a difficult conversation that needs to happen. There is a big decision that you are not ready to make. There are two or three things that should have been implemented months (or years) ago.

Circumvent! (Avoid, get around, find a way around, evade, get past, bypass, sidestep, dodge, delay – you get the message!)

It is time to stop allowing irritations to annoy you and drag on, and on. Deal with nagging, and sometimes small, problems before they become a big deal.

Need to talk to someone about a performance issue? Don’t wait until summer.

  • "The mark of the man is how he responds to situations. You're not going to avoid tough times. We're all over the barrel some of the time. What are you going to do about it?"
  • Martin Short

Tuesday, April 2nd, 2019

The Easy Route

“It is easy to believe we are each waves and forget we are also the ocean.” – Jon Muth

There is a lot of work to do. That is true at almost any time of year in an accounting firm.

You want to be as productive as possible but how often do you waste, or misuse, your valuable time? You want to get so many things off your to-do list that you decide to knock out the easy things first.

You are thinking, “first thing in the morning I will get those five easy things done and off my list”. The trouble is, those five easy things should not be on your list. Delegate them or eliminate them.

I have observed that in many firms, partners are doing manager work, managers are doing staff work, and staff members are looking for meaningful work.

  • "It is easy to get everything you want, provided you first learn to do without the things you cannot get."
  • Elbert Hubbard

Monday, April 1st, 2019

Busy Week = Short Blog Posts. Topic: Drama

“All the world’s a stage and most of us are desperately unrehearsed.” – Sean O’Casey

If you provide tax services, this might be your busiest week of the year. That is why I am going to keep my daily blog posts very brief this week.

When I ask CPAs if they have any drama in their office I usually get a big chuckle. I don’t think I have ever found a firm without some drama among their team members.

Set a goal, for after tax season, to decrease the drama in your office. It usually comes from a lack of conversations. There are elephants in the room (and in the firm) and no one wants to talk about them.

Never avoid difficult conversations.

  • "Don't waste words on people who deserve your silence. Sometimes the most powerful thing you can say is nothing at all."
  • Mandy Hale

Friday, March 29th, 2019

Courtesy Policy

“Politeness is the art of choosing among your thoughts.” – Madame De Stael

You have had an extremely busy week. You are spending SO many hours with your co-workers. You are probably working this weekend and long hours next week. It is natural to become aggravated, at times, with those around you.

I read this small excerpt in an article:

Politeness is the cornerstone of any civilized society. In essence, it is respect for other people’s feelings. This respect is reflected in both thought and action . . . in considering other people’s points of view and behaving in sensitive ways. Unfortunately, in many areas of life, politeness seems to be outdated.

Maybe your firm needs a Courtesy Policy to help remind people that civility is alive and well in your firm and in the CPA Profession. Here’s a sample:

Sample Firm Courtesy Policy

  • If you have a problem with someone, talk about the problem only with them and in private.
  • Use positive conversation.
  • Blame a system, not a person.
  • Apologize and make restitution if someone is upset by your actions.
  • When you talk about a person who is not present, speak as if they are listening to your conversation. Use the person’s name in each sentence in which you refer to them.
  • Speak very politely using a person’s name – – “please” and “thank-you” as a minimum.
  • Greet and farewell everyone by name and with eye contact.
  • Tell the truth.

 

  • "The toughest thing about being a celebrity, I suppose, is being polite when I don't want to be."
  • Eric Clapton

Thursday, March 28th, 2019

Morning Person Or Not

“Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new.” – Albert Einstein

I am a morning person. I like to get up early (5:00a) and start the day by reading and drinking a cup of coffee. Then I work most of the morning at a fairly ambitious pace. I have always felt I do my best work in the morning.

It’s not for everyone. Many people are definitely not morning people. That’s the joy of embracing flexible schedules for all your team members.

When I was working in a firm, I would be the first one there at 6:00a, that is when I was most productive. I had a partner who would often work until 2:00a. He was the most productive after 7:00p.

Many firms now provide core hours that they expect people to be available. Outside those core hours, people can work whenever and wherever. Some firms don’t even specify core hours any longer. Are you allowing people to work at their most productive time?

  • "If you spend too much time thinking about a thing, you'll never get it done."
  • Bruce Lee

Wednesday, March 27th, 2019

March Madness for CPAs

“No great mind has ever existed without a touch of madness.” – Aristotle

It is that time of year again. The annual period of time when CPAs have successfully put the March 15th due date behind them and are working madly toward the April 15th deadline. It’s CPA March Madness!

Hopefully, you are finding time to watch the basketball March Madness. Take a breather and read the history of the basketball event: March Madness: Keeping Society Sane Since 1908. 

  • "You're only given a little spark of madness. You mustn't lose it."
  • Robin Williams

Tuesday, March 26th, 2019

Discussing Fees

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

I hear stories that have a similar theme:

  • I inherited the firm from a sole proprietor. The clients are just not used to paying what would be a normal fee.
  • I am working so many hours and need to increase my fees. But, I am afraid I will lose too many clients.

I ask, “How do you describe your fees to clients?” What I usually discover is that the CPAs who have such a great fear of losing clients are not actually talking about fees WITH the client, at all. I also learn that CPAs who charge an appropriate fee don’t talk with clients about the fees either.

My friend, Sarah Johnson Dobek of Inovautus Consulting gives us some excellent advice:

  • Initiate the conversation
  • Describe the services you will provide
  • Present your fees with clarity
  • Write it down
  • Don’t be defensive

Read more about each of these points on Sarah’s blog post. Take the time to teach your entire team how to talk about fees with clients.

  • "The price of inaction is far greater than the cost of making a mistake."
  • Meister Eckhart