Your accounting firm is up and running. Now that you have the fundamentals out of the way, it’s time to make some minor tweaks to improve your workflow. Even if you’re experiencing success in your business, as an owner you should know that there’s always room for improvement. Consider these easy tips for supercharging your accounting practice.
1. Build Your CRM
A CRM – or client relationship management tool – should be more than email. Keep your clients’ information and your interactions with them in an organized, central hub. CRMs such as Salesforce are not labor intensive and integrate seamlessly with financial advisors in mind.
2. Seek Independence or Advocacy
Although the rules of independence have long driven the core services within tax and accounting professions, it sometimes poses a limiting factor. Is your independence hindering the breadth or depth of services your firm can offer? Would you be better off to choose advocacy and increase your number of services? What do your existing clients need?
3. Identify Critical Processes
Before you can start improving your CPA firm, you need to take a thorough look at its current state. Dig deeply into your current processes and document the result. Once you identify your primary services, and the scope of their critical processes, you can trim the fat on the surrounding edges.
4. Measure Metrics
There’s no way to tell the efficiency of your processes without measurement. Before making any changes, create meaningful metrics to compare against. Common metrics include: time spent on all or portions of processes, costs of implementation, staff variances, data predictability, etc. While it might seem boring or tedious, a “before” picture will ultimately be helpful.
5. Chart Your Processes
As you measure and identify critical processes, chart all the processes involved in your current workflow. Particular items of interest are: the amount of firm members involved, number of client touch points, key steps that cannot be compromised, and inefficient steps that demand the most resources. Use this chart to whittle down your workflow and save money.
6. Consult Your Rolodex
If you don’t already have a roster of your existing clients, create one. Then, leverage your existing clients by using a CRM to look for clients by life stage, job type, 401k status, and other specifications. Communicate with each of these groups differently and tailor to their unique needs.
7. Cover the Basics
Don’t rely on your client’s own comprehension or urgency to act. Provide immense value using financial planning software that will create an urgency for clients to accomplish simple goals. These software solutions help maximize IRA and 401k contributions, use municipal bonds, and allocate assets to get them the most on their taxes. It will help the clients see why it matters to their retirement number and will mean more than an explanation on a legal pad.
8. Develop Menu and Service Levels
When considering a list of services small businesses need, most firms stop at accounting and tax compliance. Strategic planning, budgeting, cash flow, and talent development are often overlooked. Is your firm capable of offering both core and higher-valued services to increase profit?
9. Mine and Market
Use your CRM to mine demographics, then send automated monthly marketing campaigns for services they might not have yet considered. While it requires a small amount of work upfront, it requires no follow-up and will keep your firm relevant outside of tax season.
10. Service Delivery Team
Ditch the rugged individual approach in favor of a delivery team to expand your firm’s client accounting services. Not all of these services require CPA licenses, so consider building a broader skill-based team.
11. Cultivate Leadership
Identify the champions in your firm and help them act as team builders. Assign more responsibility and incentivize good work ethic. By endowing leadership, you’ll upkeep motivation and ensure the future success of your firm.
12. Brainstorm Effectively
While finding a team leader is essential, so too is using the entire staff for brainstorming activities. These are the people who are running the processes first hand, so they might be better able to identify areas that need improvement.
13. Reevaluate Pricing
Are you charging hourly, or for the percentage of an account? Do you have a retainer fee for younger clients, or do you offer services a la carte? Packaging multiple services together can create happy clients and better margins, so consider reevaluating your pricing strategy.
14. Improve Your Technology
Purchase advanced tax software for CPAs and optimize your office with the latest technology
(like Quickbooks hosting which allows you to access your data anywhere, anytime.) You’ll save time, and improve accuracy and efficiency.
15. Capture Your Competitive Edge
Finally, be sure to identify and market your firm’s competitive edge. Develop unique processes that you can point to when clients ask, “Why should I choose you?”.