Wednesday, November 24th, 2021

Skimpflation

“Courtesy is the one coin you can never have too much of or be stingy with.” – John Wanamaker

Have you been reading about skimpflation?

The quality of service, in various places like The Magic Kingdom, airlines, restaurants, etc. have deteriorated since the beginning of the pandemic. It is a problem that the NPR show “Planet Money” has labeled “skimpflation.”

The definition of skimp: expend or use less time, money, or material on something than is necessary in an attempt to economize.

Many businesses, especially small businesses have skimped in order to stay alive. Airlines cancel flights and put people on hold on the phone for hours. Some restaurants have eliminated menus and you must use your phone to see what is offered. Hotels and stores provide fewer services than in the past. Service seems to be very poor just about everywhere. Much of this is because businesses are simply understaffed.

Per NPR: While it may lurk in the shadows, make no mistake: Skimpflation is a form of inflation. As with normal inflation, it means we’re getting less for our money.

Read more about it here and consider the service in your own firm. I have talked to CPA firms who are concerned about obtaining new clients because they fear they won’t be able to offer the awesome client service they were once able to provide.

It is important that your long-time clients don’t feel that they are not getting the same level of service they have received in the past.

Are you guiding your small business clients through the minefield of skimpflation?

  • "Fear will make you stingy."
  • Kenneth Copeland

Tuesday, November 23rd, 2021

Communication to Clients

“Assumptions are the termites of relationships.” – Henry Winkler

Late last week I received a nice notice from one of my clients. It is what they sent to all of their clients letting them know that their offices will be closed for Thanksgiving on Thursday and Friday next week and that they will return to the office on Monday, November 29.

It had a very tasteful Happy Thanksgiving picture message, too.

Do you notify your clients of events like this one? Sure, you think they just know that you will be closed for two days for Thanksgiving but do all of them “just know?” Don’t ever assume.

  • "Don’t use words too big for the subject. Don’t say infinitely when you mean very; otherwise you’ll have no word left when you want to talk about something really infinite."
  • C. S. Lewis

Monday, November 22nd, 2021

Great Meetings

“Once you’ve got 7 people in a decision-making group, each additional member reduces decision effectiveness by 10%.” – Dan Rockwell LeadershipFreak

Dan Rockwell gives us 3 Words That Make Meeting Great. Those 3 words are Specific. Shorter. Smaller. Follow the link to read more about these three words.

I like the two words that apply to CPAs – Decide and Deliver. Too often, in partner meetings, decisions are put on hold. If a decision is finally made, it often fails because of a lack of implementation.

If someone in your meeting leaves without anything to do they shouldn’t be in the meeting in the first place. Always leave a meeting with an action plan.

Rockwell also gives us the following:

5 Things to stop doing in meetings:

  1. Complaining. Problem-solving isn’t complaining. The difference between complaining and leadership is solution-seeking.
  2. Interrupting. The person leading the meeting should interrupt interrupters.
  3. Blathering on and on.
  4. Chasing rabbits.
  5. Neglecting action items and accountability. Ask, “Who does what by when?”
  • "Two or three action items is enough for most meetings."
  • Dan Rockwell

Friday, November 19th, 2021

Climbing The Ladder

“Patience is the art of concealing your impatience.” – Guy Kawasaki

It’s Friday and time for a flashback post. This week’s post comes from November, just last year (2020).

The post talks about how long it takes, in many firms, to climb the ladder up to being a partner. Today’s workforce is not going to wait around for decades. Click here for the post titled, Too Long.

  • "Good ideas are not adopted automatically. They must be driven into practice with courageous impatience."
  • Hyman Rickover

Thursday, November 18th, 2021

Lights, Camera… Action!

“I always thought acting was all lights, camera, action. It’s a job; you have to do your job correctly.” – Corey Haim

November is passing quickly. You are probably spending a lot of time getting ready for the busiest time of the year. There is a need for enhanced focus on how your serve your clients and how your serve your staff.

Tax season is the time that firm owners and all their team members take the stage and step into the spotlight. “Lights, camera, action!” – the term they use when making movies definitely applies. It is your time, as a firm, to shine. You are about to be a hero for your clients.

All of this applies to those of you inside CPA firms who are “the bosses.” It will be a challenging time for the people you supervise. Acknowledgment and encouragement are the order of the day. It’s time for you to take your role as the Director of the movie very seriously and extract the best possible performance from your cast and crew.

When things are running smoothly and people are doing good work for the clients, don’t forget to recognize efforts. Things will go wrong at times, seems they always do. If a mistake happens, recover rapidly – be honest, make amends and move on quickly. It seems that people (you, your clients, and your team) always remember bad things and often forget about all the good things that happen.

I’m not sure what you can do about the bad things, except try, desperately try, not to mess anything up. If you do, try to mend fences (and your reputation) before you move on. 

You are now in the rehearsal stage. Keep rehearsing (getting ready) so that when it’s time to say, “Lights, camera, action!” everyone is ready to give their best performance.

  • "All the real work is done in the rehearsal period."
  • Donald Pleasence

Wednesday, November 17th, 2021

They Are Watching You

“By working faithfully eight hours a day you may eventually get to be boss and work twelve hours a day.” – Robert Frost

If you are a partner or a firm administrator in a CPA firm, you are a leader (a boss). Never forget that everyone is watching you. I’m sure you have seen some of those cute videos via social media where the parent performs some simple act and the baby (not even a year old) will mimic them almost immediately.

That’s what your team members will do.

If you always give people compliments and encouragement they will do the same. If you are short-tempered and reserved, they will eventually take on these characteristics.

More importantly, if you work 12 hours a day (as the above quote mentions), they will assume they must also work 12 hours a day. Soon, they will realize that public accounting is not for them. This is why so many firms have succession issues – no one to replace partners as they retire.

If you are keeping up with all the news about resignations and the talent shortages now and the lack of students seeking a career in public accounting in the future, you know that this is happening right now.

Be careful of the example you are setting and remember they are watching you with a magnifying glass because YOU are the boss.

  • "I wish I were brave, although I try. I work too hard and don't play enough. Too much work ethic, not enough 'fun'."
  • Danielle Steel

Tuesday, November 16th, 2021

Give Them A Chance

“Success is no accident. It is hard work, perseverance, learning, studying, sacrifice and most of all, love of what you are doing or learning to do.” – Pelé, Brazilian football legend.

Performing all the services that a CPA firm offers is not something that is learned overnight.

How many times have you heard a new recruit say, “I never learned this in college!”? Many new hires struggle for a while with what seems like fairly easy activities to a more experienced CPA.

With inexperienced new hires and with administrative employees, I believe that it takes a full year cycle for them to begin to grasp the intricacies of their job. In a CPA firm, there are three seasons – busy season, summer, and fall. Each season has varying duties that you sometimes don’t perform except once a year. That is why giving them a year to experience the duties expected of them seems to make sense. Then, I always recommend that you give them two years to determine if they are going to fail or succeed.

If a person is not a good fit for public accounting, it is not fair to string them along, hoping that they will eventually “get it”. You are not doing them, or the firm, a favor.

Comments I have heard from practitioners during some of my presentations: “We don’t give them two years, we usually give them eight years before we face reality and let them go.” “If someone is not a good fit, we seem to keep them forever.”

So many firms are desperate for people right now. Don’t lower your standards. That’s never what a CPA should do.

  • "The greater the difficulty the more the glory in surmounting it. Skillful pilots gain their reputation from storms and tempests."
  • Epictetus

Monday, November 15th, 2021

Hang On To Your Team

“That’s what I consider true generosity: You give your all and yet you always feel as if it costs you nothing.” – Simone de Beauvoir

Over the weekend, I read the latest news from the Associated Press. – – Americans quit their jobs at a record pace for the second straight month in September, while businesses and other employers posted a near-record number of available jobs.

Employees have become empowered and are quitting to take the higher pay that is being offered by employers who are desperate for workers.

I have observed, that some CPA firms are not doing what is necessary to retain the best and the brightest (or even the average) employee.

Some firms are still paying interns $15.00 or $16.00 per hour. I asked some more progressive CPA firms what they are paying for interns for 2022 and learned they are paying $20 to $28 per hour. Of course, geographic location makes a difference but none were paying less than $20.

The more progressive firms have already given significant salary increases and stay bonuses. If you have not done this, these firms will be attracting YOUR people. I have no proof, but I am hearing that the largest accounting firms are giving a signing bonus of $75,000 for a Manager and $100,000 for a Senior Manager.

Firms are also taking steps to outplace troublesome and nonprofitable clients because they want to maintain awesome client service to their best clients. They can’t do that if they do not have the man/woman power.

Now is not a time for CPA firm shareholders to be greedy. You have to give your team lots of little things (perks), but you also have to give them money.

Read the AP article here.

  • "You cannot do a kindness too soon because you never know how soon it will be too late."
  • Ralph Waldo Emerson

Friday, November 12th, 2021

Quotes to Inspire – Flashback Friday

“I’m not comfortable unless I’m uncomfortable.”—Jay Chiat

This week I am featuring a blog post from way back in 2015. The title is, “Monday Morning Thoughts Worth Sharing” but they certainly apply to a Friday.

In 2015 I said, “The business world is fast-moving, demanding, and constantly changing.” It certainly still applies today, probably more so. The post is filled with quotations meant to inspire you. I especially like the closing quote at the bottom of the post by Tom Peters, “The times are nutty—and getting nuttier at an exponential pace.” Click here.

I have had a busy week and I know you have, too. Enjoy the weekend.

  • "Be the best. It’s the only market that’s not crowded."
  • George Whalin

Thursday, November 11th, 2021

So Much To Do Before Year-End

“Beware the barrenness of a busy life.” – Socrates

I have covered the topic of being too busy many times over the years in writing this blog. Why? Because it is the term I continue to hear over and over again from partners, firm administrators, and others working inside a growing CPA firm.

It seems you are always too busy to actually think, plan, reflect and even enjoy a beautiful Fall day. When you dig deep into why you are too busy it usually uncovers the fact that it is because of the choices you make.

Maybe it is time you examine those choices you have been making.

Socrates said, “the unexamined life is not worth living.” What did he mean by that? Here’s an explanation:

Socrates‘ claim that the unexamined life is not worth living makes a satisfying climax for the deeply principled arguments that Socrates presents on behalf of the philosophical life. The claim is that only in striving to come to know ourselves and to understand ourselves do our lives have any meaning or value.

In your CPA work life, if you are always saying you are so busy or too busy, why would clients and referral sources refer others to you? Make it a rule to never say the “B” (busy) word in the office. Anyone caught saying BUSY must drop $1.00 into the money jar in the break room. Soon you will have enough money (and maybe enough time) for a great party!

  • "It is not enough to be busy; so are the ants. The question is: what are we busy about?"
  • Henry David Thoreau