The nature of accounting and tax firm services today can create the sense that it’s a never-ending busy season. Still, tax reform this year has made springtime even busier for most, so it's all the more important for firms to take a step back and refocus their energies now that April 18 is past. Refocusing team efforts on firm vision and growth strategies can be challenging, but BKR International provides these 10 tips to inspire action and energy after busy season.
1. Acknowledge successes
If you try to jump right into more work, your team may revolt. Instead, celebrate individual and team achievements with a party or fun activities built into the work day. Communicate how team member efforts make a difference to clients.
2. Reinforce the vision
Your firm must have a vision and every team member must know what it is. People are inspired by a purpose. Your vision should reinforce why people love working at your firm and how each professional can ensure that it remains your firm’s highest purpose. It can’t be just about revenue.
3. Clarify how each team member contributes
Include all departments, not just billable staff. Whether this is communicated through individual performance plans or acts of recognition, make sure each person is clear on how they can and do support the firm’s vision and growth plan.
4. Review baseline and stretch goals
Challenge each individual to create specific baseline and stretch goals. A baseline goal might be to respond to client calls within the same day. A stretch goal might be to expand services with three of them. These goals should be discussed monthly and quarterly.
5. Provide examples of effective activities
It’s fine to have goals, but often non-rainmaking types could use some guidance on how to reach them. Take technical professionals on a sales call to demonstrate consultative discussions. Share your “ideal client” profiles so they know whom the firm wants to attract.
6. Revitalize pipeline meetings
Do you have regular pipeline meetings? If so, these meetings might need some fresh energy. Invite emerging leaders to share what they heard in the field during busy season. Create your own version of “Dilly! Dilly!” when someone lands a new client.
7. Schedule client debriefings
The best way to keep a client is to keep talking to that client after busy season. Schedule a debriefing to see how you’re doing and if you can improve. Suggest two or three new ideas that could help the client. Include senior members of the client’s team and encourage them to share client feedback with everyone else on the team.
8. Schedule training
Are there areas for improvement that came to light during busy season? Now is the time to close those skill gaps when the challenges and shortfalls are still fresh in your mind. Identify the skills needed for more efficient workflow and identify the team members best suited to add those skills.
9. Follow through on incentives
If incentives are part of client cross-servicing or business development activities, make a big deal about team members who achieve them and bring in new business. However, incentives should be designed to inspire action rather than make people compete against each other. Offer both individual and team incentives.
10. Explore gaps and invest in new resources
Maybe the lessons learned during busy season revealed gaps in systems or technology. Make sure you regularly analyze foundational processes and solutions so your firm can achieve more and your team will feel supported.