Platt’s Perspective: Don’t Like Disruption? ‘Expect An Earthquake Every Three Years’ Says McKinsey CEO

Mike Platt

Mike Platt

Disciplined. Compliant. Orderly. Methodical. Those are the driving personality characteristics of most left-brained accountants that I know. Doing things the right way. Debits equal credits. There is a natural order to accounting, and that has tended to attract many similar-thinking people to the profession.

It also has created a profession filled with practitioners who are, at their core, fundamentally resistant to change. Any leader who has undertaken a change effort has encountered this group – not on board at best, actively resistant at worst. “Why do we need to change, everything has been going well so far, so why fool with success,” is the cry most often heard from the group.

In the past, shaking up the status quo even once a decade was a painful process for this group. Dominic Barton, CEO of global consulting giant McKinsey, recently told The Australian Financial Review in an interview that large companies will need to massively restructure to the point that they will “expect an earthquake every three years.”

With high partner compensation numbers, there’s a tangible lifestyle measurement at risk. After all, there have been calls for change before, the profession has made small, incremental adjustments to its trajectory, and “we’re doing just fine as we are, thank you.”

But this time it’s different. This time, the pace is lightning fast. The image that comes to mind is my own experience of skydiving for the first time. Door open, a white-knuckled grip on the doorframe, feet firmly on a small step. As the instructor encouraged me to “climb out,” I warily slid one hand on to the wing strut. “Keep going” the instructor urged…“Keep going – I’ll talk you through it.” As I finally lifted my feet off the step, the realization that I was no longer tethered to the safety of the plane, hit me. “LET GO!” the instructor bellowed, and I let go.

As I watched the plane fly away, my heart stopped for a moment until I heard the whoosh of a parachute opening above my head. And then silence. Beauty all around me. A feeling of genuine exhilaration. As I glided down to Earth, I felt an accomplishment and satisfaction. My final thought was “I jumped out of a plane and landed safely on the ground.”

For those leading the change, recognize that you are flying the plane filled with some white-knuckled staff and partners who are perfectly comfortable inside the safety of the plane. Never underestimate the significance of encouragement to get your group to sit in an open doorway with feet hanging out at 10,000 feet above the ground; to be the voice of “keep going,” “keep going,” “keep going.”

Understand how critical it is to them to hear your calm and confident instructions to “now LET GO!” As you talk them through their maiden flight and land them safely, they will gain the courage and the confidence to go back up in the plane again – if McKinsey is right – another three years from now as you continue to create an organization whose core competency is the ability to adapt to change.

Platt’s Perspective: How Much Of Your Partners’ Time Is Spent On Partner-Level Activities?

Mike Platt

Mike Platt

For years I’ve asked a simple question of my clients: “Think about all of the hours your partner group collectively spends on firm business each year. Raise your hand if you believe that more than 80% of those hours are spent doing partner-level work – however you define that.”

When I get no responses, the next offer is “70%?” A hand or two goes up. “Sixty percent?” Maybe a quarter of the hands are visible. “Fifty percent?” Without fail, about half the hands are finally in the air when presented with the 50% option. To spare the rest the embarrassment of raising their hands at levels below 50%, I stop there.

In this unscientific – but consistent – poll of firm leaders, the conclusion is that partners spend more than half their time on work that should be delegated.

The reasons are varied. For some partners, grinding through staff-level work brings them cozily back to their comfort zones. Some don’t trust the quality of subordinates’ work. Others are short-staffed and can’t delegate work. And for some, prioritizing the highest and best use of their non-billable time can devolve into “what can I check off my to-do list?” Too often, that work is not a partner-level activity that will help the firm grow.

The result of all this? Profitability may suffer. Staff engagement suffers because staff know partners will jump in and change things anyway. Strategic planning and brainstorming suffers at the partner level because there is never enough time to work on the business. Partner growth and development suffers because partners are not being challenged. Ultimately the partner’s value to the firm suffers because compensation levels are incompatible with their staff-level activities.

As client needs become more complex, partners will need to step up their game. As staffing leverage continues to grow, as it has for more than 15 years, partners will no longer be able to hide behind staff-level work. As the profession continues to evolve, firms will demand their owners meet the complex demands of the future, and continually raise the bar on what being a partner really requires.

If you want to make an impact on your firm this year, have your partner group commit to increasing their time doing partner-level work from 50% to 60%. It seems like a little step, but it is entirely achievable and will help build the confidence to keep going to 70%, 80%, 90% and beyond.

Platt’s Perspective: Will The Definition Of Success Change For Firms In The Future?

Mike Platt

Mike Platt

Ever since key performance indicators were created for accounting firms, measurements of success have been dominated by traditional metrics like growth percentages, leverage, revenue per charge hour, revenue per FTE, utilization, realization, profit margin and the ultimate target – net income per equity partner.

In recent years however, conversations have turned to targets of a different nature – staff satisfaction, investment in the future, re-imagining the business model, bench strength, succession planning, staying relevant and transformational change, to name a few.

As we enter a new year, it’s the appropriate time to look at the old and the new, and question how the profession’s definition of success may change over time.

How are firms marrying the traditional metrics with the top-of-mind issues listed above? Who will “win” the new game, and how will that be measured? What are the new goalposts that will define future performance and overall success?

Some suggest that traditional metrics no longer meet the needs of the profession, and point to benchmarks such as net income per equity partner as no longer relevant. Others vehemently oppose this notion, arguing that no targets are achievable without a solid business foundation that generates acceptable / suitable / achievable profits for partners.

A middle ground is needed – one that accounts for not only traditional performance metrics but also perceptions of staff, partners and customers and the firm’s impact on the lives of those it touches. At the 2017 PRIME Symposium, firms began this exploration of new measurements to assess the well-being of the firm as well as partners, staff, clients and communities they serve. IPA is committed to building on this holistic approach going forward to help firms achieve the balance between the objective and subjective indicators of success.

In the meantime, I challenge everyone to consider how the definition of success might change for your firm in the coming years. What do the current partners think? What do the next generation of partners think? How big is the perception gap between the two groups? Our goal is to understand that gap and bridge it to build a shared vision of success in the future.

Platt’s Perspective: ‘Tis The Season To Be . . . Stressed

Mike Platt

Mike Platt

I’m a news junkie. I inhale news, politics and culture news the way a caffeine addict gulps coffee. No doubt you have people in your firm who do the same.

With all the seemingly disheartening news – divisive politics, terrorism, racial tensions, sexual harassment, nuclear threats, gun violence – I wonder what toll it is taking on all of us, and more important, how much of that toll is showing up in the workplace.

Could it manifest itself in reading false intentions into the actions of our colleagues, in minor distractions throughout the day, or in shortening our fuses when we react to perceived threats? It may manifest itself more subliminally, with feelings of stress and disenfranchisement bubbling just below the surface.

In a newly released study, “Stress in America,” the American Psychological Association reaffirms the findings of previous surveys – that Millennials continue to have the highest levels of reported stress, at an average of 5.7 on a 10-point scale. Boomers, by comparison, report an average stress level of 4.1, and Gen-Xers 5.3.
That same study points to a widening gender gap in the stress levels reported by men (4.4) and women (5.1), as well as a racial difference among Caucasians (4.7), Hispanics (5.2) and African Americans (5.0).

Clearly the news isn’t the only trigger causing stress – financial pressures, family issues and health concerns top the list of the big three that impact all of us. On top of all those issues – both those within our control and those outside our control – is the reality that Americans are among the most vacation-deprived groups in the world according to Expedia in a recent report. That report indicates that Millennials are the most vacation-deprived (62%) of any age demographic and are more likely to shorten their trips due to impending workload than their older colleagues.

So, what does this have to do with running a successful firm? Life doesn’t occur in a vacuum – all employees bring baggage with them, and workplaces are affected.

Firms need to consciously choose whether to address the well-being of their staff, partners and clients. Does the firm’s responsibility end at the office door or is it the firm’s role to help them manage the pressures they will inevitably encounter outside work? Are firm leaders aware of the ways these outside concerns are manifesting themselves? Do you know who is feeling disenfranchised, detached or stressed – and if so, the reasons for it? Do supervisors get training in detection of behavioral changes in those they manage, or is their CPE more focused on the latest FASB rules? And how do we measure commitment to overall well-being to benchmark progress from year to year?

As the holidays are upon us and tax season approaches, chances are stress levels are ratcheting up – whether you realize it or not. As you celebrate this season of thanksgiving, family and traditions, be sure to reaffirm your conscious decision – it is a choice – as to how much you are willing to address the issues your partners and staff are dealing with every day. And for those of you with news junkies on your team, encourage them to turn off all media, curl up with a good book, and just relax . . .

Platt’s Perspective: Classifying Clients – It’s Good For The Top And Bottom Line (And Everything In Between)

By: Michael Platt

Have you ever noticed that after you a buy a new car – let’s say it’s a 2017 silver Mercedes-Benz – you start seeing the same make, model and color every time you look around?

In similar fashion, firm professionals can begin to home in on their ideal clients and recognize them instantly. To help accomplish this, they need to go through two exercises that the majority of firms neglect: Define the firm’s best to worst clients, ranking them A through C or D, then outline a plan to improve their grades so they become better clients.

IPA’s most recent survey data, from more than 540 firms, show that only 30% are formally classifying their clients in this way. The other 70% are missing an opportunity to sharpen their focus, make more money and limit unnecessary headaches.

Mike Platt

Mike Platt

Many firm partners have their own ideas on who their A, B, C and D clients are, but it’s rarely agreed upon firmwide, and lower-level professionals may hold vastly different views on the attributes of a “perfect” client. The more clearly this is defined up front, the easier it is to target that group.

Every firm over the years has collected all kinds of clients – some are ideal fits for the services the firm provides; some were ideal at one time and are now legacy clients; and some are no longer appropriate.

So, how would a firm decide which clients are As and which are Cs or Ds? That’s up to every firm to define, but typically A clients are ones with growth potential, who are cooperative, pay premium fees for premium services, come to you before making major decisions, rely on your advice and refer other clients to the firm.

B clients, for example, may not access a full range of services or actively refer your firm, but they are owners of up-and-coming companies who could likely become A clients someday. C clients may be your 1040 tax return customers, and D clients could be those who are late providing information, argumentative with staff, late paying bills and constantly complaining about fees. Some D clients are unavoidable (think your brother-in-law, or the grandson of your best A client), but all should be reviewed and culled on a regular basis.

I believe so strongly in classifying clients that I suggest identifying them by letter grade in a firmwide database that is accessible to all professionals and reviewed every few years. Obviously, keep this information confidential – no client wants to hear that they’re a C client.

Once clients are classified, the firm should define a plan to move clients up. Can your firm guide tax return clients on ways to streamline operations of their businesses, grow and become more profitable? If so, those B clients may become more reliant on the firm’s expertise and opt to take advantage of more firm services, becoming A clients in short order.

Classifying clients moves the right metrics. When a firm focuses its energy on providing great service to A and B clients, realization goes up, fees go up and profitability goes up. At the same time, clients are fulfilling their dreams for their businesses, and they’re more successful and happier as well.

Classifying clients helps with business development. When you’re out looking for new clients, you don’t want to just grab whatever’s out there. Zero in on the kind of client the firm wants to pursue. That’s because not all revenue dollars are the same. Generating a dollar’s worth of revenue from an A client often costs far less than generating a dollar’s worth of revenue from a C or D client.

Don’t limit your thinking to believe that classifying clients is just a marketing activity. It is, but it’s much more than that. This exercise can focus the firm in a clear, targeted way on key metrics related to profitability, realization, revenue per charge hour and contribute to business development opportunities, growing the top line as well.

One other benefit to consider – once A clients are defined, future A clients are much easier to find, just like those 2017 silver Mercedes-Benzes you’re seeing everywhere.

Platt’s Perspective: The Q&A That Just Might Save Your Firm $1 Million This Year

Any partner who brings in a new, million-dollar client would be considered a superhero – and rightly so – but MPs could save just as much money by paying closer attention to an investment they’ve already made.

Mike Platt

Mike Platt

Consider the phrase, “We have great people.” It’s a statement I’ve heard hundreds of times from MPs describing why their firms are successful. And it’s true. People are any firm’s most valuable asset. Research shows if firm leaders nurture that investment just as intentionally as any client relationship, the payoff can be huge.

And here’s the good news: fostering a more engaged and empowered work force through improved communication costs absolutely nothing. But preventing these valuable assets from walking out the door can save thousands, if not millions, of dollars.

RTR imageUp-and-coming staff want to know the higher purpose of the firm, how the business of accounting works and their role in the firm’s success. INSIDE Public Accounting, in conjunction with ConvergenceCoaching, surveyed more than 700 CPA firm professionals aged 21-40, and repeatedly, they asked to be more involved and informed. Learn more in our research report, “Road to Retention: Motivators and Drivers for Young CPA Professionals.”

The report revealed seven fundamental questions young professionals are asking. Providing the answers can help shift the culture at your firm, and reduce unwanted turnover caused by a lack of communication.

What does the firm expect from me? – New hires are typically thrown into the deep end of the pool and told to swim, but they would benefit from a list of priorities from the firm. How should they focus their time every day? Client work? Business development? Give them guidance, they’re starving for it.

What is the path to partnership? – Define the building blocks to partnership, put it in writing and talk about it. Not everyone wants to become a partner, but those who do are not getting a lot of information on what it takes to get there.

How did the current partners ‘make it’? – Put your partners in front of your people, perhaps in a lunch and learn session, and have them talk about how they reached the level of success they’re enjoying now. Capture success stories and tout them. Hearing directly from the partners makes a big impression and can do a lot to inspire young staff with ownership ambitions.

How do I make more money? – Very few firms clearly define what it takes to get a promotion. Don’t make it a mystery. Outline what is required in terms of client work, staff mentoring, business development, etc. Make it clear, understandable and achievable.

Where is the firm going and why is the firm choosing this path? – Do your staff members know why the firm exists? And by this I don’t mean creating a vision statement that no one can remember; it should be something you feel in your gut. Answer this question: Why do we come to work every day? Powerfully communicating that message is the biggest thing you can do to help your firm in the next five years. Share with staff who the firm clients are, what they mean to the firm, and the clients’ visions, dreams and aspirations.

Are we growing? – Staff want to know that they’re on a winning team. Firm leaders are notoriously close-mouthed about financials, but even high-level numbers, on revenue, growth and new business development, would help educate and keep your team focused on the next milestone.

Are we on track for success? – Professionals want to know if the firm is meeting its goals and whether their department is on track. Only about half of firms in IPA’s annual Survey and Analysis of Firms share financial data with everyone in the firm. I believe more transparency, with context, empowers team members to work together to help the firm achieve its goals.

Every MP knows that it costs far more to replace a staff member than to keep the rising stars who are already on board. Help staff feel part of a team that is driving toward the same goal. Young professionals have told us that they’re craving answers to these seven questions. Give it to them, and you just might see turnover drop, morale increase and profits rise.

The 2017 IPA Accounting Firm National Benchmarking Surveys Are Open For Participation

The 2017 INSIDE Public Accounting (IPA) Annual Survey and Analysis of Firms is now open to all accounting firms in North America. The results of the annual survey is the IPA National Benchmarking Report, the IPA 100, 200 and 300 firms ranking, and the coveted IPA Best of the Best firms. If you would like to participate, please contact our office.

DEADLINES FOR SURVEY SUBMISSIONS – FIRMS WITH FISCAL YEAR-ENDS OF…

…June 2016 through December 2016: May 5, 2017
…January 2017 through February 2017: May 19, 2017
…March 2017 through April 2017: June 5, 2017

THE 2017 IPA SURVEY AND THE INTERNAL OPERATIONAL SURVEYS ARE AVAILABLE FOR COMPLETION.

Your firm must complete the IPA Survey and Analysis form in order to participate in any of the internal operational surveys. If you would like to participate, contact our office.

Gain a competitive advantage and grow your firm with industry insight from the independent benchmarking leader in the nation.

BENEFITS OF PARTICIPATION

  • The opportunity to be included in the largest annual management of an accounting practice (MAP) survey in the country. To be benchmarked with more than 540+ firms nationwide and potentially be ranked among this year’s top firms in the: IPA 100, IPA 200, IPA 300 and the coveted IPA Best of the Best Firms in the nation.
  • If you participate in the surveys, you will receive a complimentary copy of the August 2017 issue of the award-winning INSIDE Pubic Accounting newsletter. This issue highlights the annual IPA 100 firm rankings, along with a detailed financial and operational analysis of the rankings.
  • An electronic complimentary copy of the 2017 Executive Summary, of the IPA National Benchmarking Report. If you participate in any or all of the IO surveys, you will also receive a complimentary executive summary when published in late summer.
  • You will receive preferred pricing on the 2017 IPA National Benchmarking Report, the IO Reports, and other benchmarking items. You may pre-order your reports now.
  • You will get preference for selection in articles written by IPA throughout the year, (an excellent opportunity to market your firm).
  • If you would like to participate, please contact our office.

CONFIDENTIAL DATA – WHAT YOU CAN EXPECT FROM INSIDE PUBLIC ACCOUNTING 

All confidential firm data, including salaries, compensation, income, etc., will be held in strict confidence. Salaries, compensation and sensitive data, such as income, revenues by niche, etc., will NOT be shared or publicized. We take extreme pride in our ability to collect this data to assist the profession and are now celebrating 27 years surveying accounting firms across the globe.

Please contact IPA at survey@plattgroupllc.com with any concerns or questions. IPA conducts a thorough review of each survey submission for commonly missed areas and for any and all errors. IPA will contact the person / contact named on the submitted survey form for any and all clarifications / updates. Some data, such as firm name, MP(s) name, firm net revenue, and organic growth may appear in the IPA Newsletter (if accolades are given).

IPA ASSOCIATION PARTNERSHIPS: INSIDE Public Accounting is pleased to partner with the following associations to provide survey and benchmarking services for their member firms: The Alliott Group, CPAmerica International, DFK International, INPACT Americas, LEA Global, Moore Stephens North America and PrimeGlobal. Please contact The Platt Group / IPA with any questions at (317) 733-1920.

Platt’s Perspective: Ready Or Not: The Future Is Here!

Mike Platt

Mike Platt

The future is here whether we are ready or not. I was in Las Vegas last month presenting at and attending an international association conference, which happened to be at the same hotel where IBM was hosting its World of Watson convention with more than 15,000 attendees.

Like many, my introduction to Watson was in 2011 when Jeopardy! champion Ken Jennings famously played the computer and lost. And, like most outside the tech world, I hadn’t heard much about Watson since then. I walked down to the convention center to see what I could see, and came away from that experience with a jaw-dropping “WOW!”

Cognitive learning, augmented intelligence – whatever you want to call it – is signaling an epic shift in how humans interact. One World of Watson exhibit featured a new app for the insurance profession that aims to streamline the auto claims process by 80%. Tapping into Watson’s capabilities, a photo of the damage and a scan of an accident report starts the process of scheduling repairs and estimating damage. The programming for this app began the end of August, and within eight weeks it was ready for display.

Watson has already infiltrated the professional services world. Earlier this year, two developments will affect the way professionals conduct business in the future. In the legal world, BakerHostetler hired a “robotic legal researcher” named ROSS – built on the IBM Watson platform – to work with the firm’s bankruptcy team, scouring through thousands of precedents and articles to prepare for cases.

ROSS started out as a research project at the University of Toronto in 2014. The project goal was to build a legal research assistant to help scale the capabilities of lawyers through the use of artificial intelligence. From the start, it took ROSS 10 months to learn the entire body of bankruptcy law.

In the accounting world, KPMG announced plans to apply Watson’s cognitive computing technology to its professional services offerings. The March 8 press release touts: “Many of KPMG’s audit, tax, advisory and other professional services rely heavily on judgment-driven processes. Adding cognitive technology’s massive data analysis and innovative learning capabilities to these activities has the potential to advance traditional views on how talent, time, capital and other resources are deployed by professional services organizations.”

Technological transformations are coming at a rapid and accelerating pace. Some firms are now using drones for inventory observation. North Carolina State University is experimenting with virtual reality in its accounting classes. Blockchain technology, which underpins crypto-currencies like Bitcoin, provides an instantaneous verification of transactions, assuring that the accuracy of the transaction can be trusted and verified. Hmmm, does that sound like an auditor’s job?

In talking about the many disruptive technologies that are coming online daily, Barry Melancon, president of the AICPA, told Council members gathered in Orlando in October, “Who are we to think that these rapid changes in technology are going to somehow sidestep our profession?” What was my takeaway from the designs, experiments and applications on display at The World of Watson? Simply this: “Ready or not, here it comes.”

Platt’s Perspective: Moving From Accountant To Advisor Doesn’t Need To Be The Equivalent Of Jumping Across The Grand Canyon

Mike Platt - Cropped for IPA INSIDER

Mike Platt

For years, firms around the country have embraced the need to shift from trusted accountant to trusted advisor. Some individuals in some firms have made the transition very successfully, having the skills, experience and business acumen to get the job done. But for many, the leap from historian to advisor may as well be a jump across a chasm the size of the Grand Canyon.

The perception of a successful accountant is a learned professional with deep, specialized knowledge about financial and operational activities of business. The idea of moving from “the person with all the answers” to “the person with all the questions” – as many consultants see themselves – not only is a difficult mindset to embrace, but also fundamentally challenges the perception of what many accountants think is the key to their success. It requires professionals to embrace a completely different belief system to define success in a career. Frankly, it’s too much for many to wrap their heads around, so they end up staying within their comfort zone.

I recently had a chance to have lunch with John Schweisberger, a consultant-turned-accounting-firm-CEO-turned-practice-group-leader with Armanino in California, who explained in the clearest terms I’ve heard to date what consultants do. “There are three reasons companies hire consultants,” explains Schweisberger.

  • 1) They know that things are not right, but cannot identify the root problem.
  • 2) They have identified the problem, but have difficulty coming up with a workable solution.
  • 3) They know the solution, but need help implementing it.

To help identify a problem, you need to be a good diagnostician. To help identify a solution, you need to be a creative problem solver. To help implement the solution, you either need to be an expert in your specialized field, or be a good executive coach to help the company leaders get it done.

To accountants of any age wrestling with how to tackle the daunting idea of moving from accountant to trusted advisor, take heart. All three roles are needed, and all three roles require different skill sets. You do not need to be all things to everyone, and you can specialize in any of the roles.

Peeking behind the curtain of “secrets of successful consultants” in this way makes it clear that successful accountants can comfortably take on any one of these roles to become successful consultants. The trick is to think of these roles as stepping stones across a river, allowing you to grow in the role of trusted advisor without feeling like you have to jump across the entire canyon at once.

TBT Platt’s Perspective: An Open Letter to CPA Firms From Small Businesses Everywhere

Mike Platt - Cropped for IPA INSIDERI was looking through our files the other day and stumbled across a Platt’s Perspective I wrote almost 15 years ago. The sentiments expressed in that Open Letter To CPA Firms still ring true today. As you engage in a busy and successful tax season this year, and go on to strengthen your prospecting muscle in the coming months, take note of this reminder on behalf of small businesses everywhere, and enjoy this #TBT Platt’s Perspective!

In my role, I am in the fortunate position of working with CPA firms and small business owners on a daily basis. As you can imagine, both sides would describe their relationship differently. On behalf of all those business owners who are looking for help, but seem frustrated with how accounting professionals are courting them, I write this letter. Listen up accounting professionals.

Dear Accounting Professional:

Why won’t you make it easy for me to do business with you?

I own a small business and I’d like it to grow bigger. I work 12 hours a day. I need someone who can step in and help me get control of my life again and steer my business in the right direction.

Please understand that I really WANT to do business with you. I’m looking for reasons to say “YES” to you, not “no.” I don’t want to spend my time selecting a CPA. But you’re not making it easy.

  • You sell accounting services every day. I buy accounting services once in a blue moon. Help guide me through the process. Is my business too small for your firm? Do you have the staff to assist me with the day-to-day accounting functions? Tell me what I should be looking for. Tell me how you have helped others like me.
  • I know which questions I want to ask. You know which questions I should be asking. Share them with me.
  • I don’t know what my budget is for your services. That’s because I don’t know what it will take to get me where I want to be. Based on what you know about me, tell me the low, median and high range of what it could cost, and show me what benefits I would derive at each level.
  • My customers buy my product for a fixed price, not my time based on how efficient I am. I can budget and forget my worries with a fixed price from you. Can you accommodate that?
  • I expect you to be technically competent – that’s not really a selling point. I expect you to be ethical and work with integrity. That’s a given.
  • The issue is how you can customize your knowledge to fit my needs, not how can I change my needs to fit what you have to sell.
  • Your firm has been around for 40 years? Congratulations, good for you. What’s important to me is ‘What can you do for my business?’
  • I know my business and my problems are not unique. You’ve seen dozens of companies like mine and know that many of the problems are similar. Share with me how you’ve helped other small business owners get control of their businesses.
  • As a prospect, I know that you really want my business because you are spending hours trying to close the sale. Why is it that when I become a client the billable clock starts ticking immediately?
  • I really do understand that in your business, you may not be the one doing the work. That’s OK. Then let me talk to the person who WILL be doing the work so I can feel good about them.
  • I desperately want to end my search for a CPA and firm in order to get on with improving my business. Make me feel like you heard and understood what my concerns are so I can feel good about making a decision to hire you.
  • My business is my life, it’s all consuming. Show me that you care about me and my business too. If you really do care, then my search is almost over. If you really don’t care, respect my time enough to diplomatically point me elsewhere.
  • And by the way, I know it’s tax season. I know you’re busy. I know you have just a couple of weeks left of working 60+ hours a week. But I don’t want to hear about it. I do that 50 weeks a year.

Keep in mind, I’m looking for reasons to say “YES,” not “NO,” but you don’t make it easy. Honor your promises, do what you say you’re going to do, show me that you understand, and above all else show me that you care. It’s not that hard. Amazingly most of your competitors aren’t doing it, so a little effort on your part will go a long way and will really make you stand out in my mind.

Make it easy for me to do business with you, and this can be the start of a beautiful relationship.

Sincerely,

Most Small Business Owners Across America