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Art of Accounting: Added services by accounting firms

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Every accounting firm website I look at shows a full range of services, all with great descriptions. I also read many announcements of added services with impressive descriptions. This got me thinking about the followthrough by many of these firms.

I’ve been there. Before our firm merged with Withum, we promoted an imposing array of services and actually had clients in each specialty or niche. Sometimes just one or two. We were a small practice that prided ourselves on being able to do “everything.” However, we were always too busy to promote any one niche the way it should have been.

Being a part of Withum these past 15 years, I’ve watched them grow and expand, particularly in niche and specialty areas and big time into advisory services. When we merged in, we had a single client in a niche area that the Withum partners mentioned that they thought could be expanded greatly with a larger firm. About six months after the merger, I asked Bill Hagaman, now our managing partner/CEO, why nothing had been done to expand it. He responded, “I am not going to do it and you’re not going to do it. What we need is a champion who will take it and then run with it!” I never forgot those words, and I guess neither did Bill, because later on he spearheaded the metamorphosis of our firm into niche groupings. Today we have over 40 such groups, in both industries and specialized services. Each niche has a leader, its champion, and is supported by a team of experts, further backed up with dedicated staff and marketing specialists.

I was in on the meetings when the decision was made and then saw the changes made to be reorganized into the niches. It wasn’t easy. It took hard work and needed Bill’s driving force and partner support, but it got done … and I might add very successfully.

So my question to all of the firms adding and promoting new services is “who is the champion?” In other words, “Who is your driving force?” Saying you do it does not make it so. I know. I’ve been there and then seen it happen for real.

I have a webinar PowerPoint on starting a forensic and litigation support practice. It is geared toward that specialty, but the principles can be used as a blueprint to get started in any niche. To get it, just email me at GoodiesFromEd@withum.com with “Niche“ in the subject line. No messages as I handle all the replies myself and I usually do not have time to read the messages and respond to them.

Do not hesitate to contact me at emendlowitz@withum.com with your practice management questions or about engagements you might not be able to perform.

Edward Mendlowitz, CPA, is partner at WithumSmith+Brown, PC, CPAs. He is on the Accounting Today Top 100 Influential People list. He is the author of 24 books, including “How to Review Tax Returns,” co-written with Andrew D. Mendlowitz, and “Managing Your Tax Season, Third Edition.” Ed also writes a twice-a-week blog addressing issues that clients have at www.partners-network.com along with the Pay-Less-Tax Man blog for Bottom Line. Ed is an adjunct professor in the MBA program at Fairleigh Dickinson University teaching end user applications of financial statements. Art of Accounting is a continuing series where Ed shares autobiographical experiences with tips that he hopes can be adopted by his colleagues. Ed welcomes practice management questions and can be reached at (732) 743-4582 or emendlowitz@withum.com.

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Accounting firm services WithumSmith+Brown Ed Mendlowitz Practice management Business development
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