Art of Accounting: Critical issues in running a firm
Last month, I had lunch with Jody Padar. To prepare, I put together a list of critical issues involved with running a CPA practice, trying to drill them down to the most essential that we could discuss. When we sat down, and before we even picked up the menus, I asked her what she felt were the most critical issues, and she replied, “Culture.” Oops, that wasn’t on my list. Another thing we talked about was branding, which was also not on the list.
The following is a list I put together of the most critical issues facing a CPA firm. Obviously some are more important than others, but they are all important and need to be considered.
1. The future of the small firm
2. Growing the practice
3. Tax season hours and payment to staff for “overtime”
4. Getting, retaining, training and developing staff
5. Virtual staffing
6. Work/life balance
7. Pricing and billing
8. Time sheets
9. Client retention
10. Selling existing clients additional services
11. Getting new clients and practice development
13. Client service
14. Developing new services
15. Succession issues or merging or selling a practice
16. Buying a practice to expand
17. Practice continuation for sole proprietors, or a buying/selling for multi-owner practices
18. Keeping current and information overload
19. Adopting technology
20. Systems and procedures
21. Improving and strengthening infrastructure
22. Virtual client service and relationships
23. Social media presence and use
24. Keeping ahead of clients who can obtain their real-time data by pushing a button
25. Risk management
26. Quality control
28. Creating wealth outside of the practice
And then there are Jody's two additions to the list: culture and branding.
I had a great time with Jody discussing many critical issues, but we agreed that culture is very important and it is often overlooked. We also discussed the value of proper branding and the ways a firm can improve the value of their brand. Branding is more than a logo or a nice ad; it is interwoven with the culture, and everyone in a firm needs to walk the talk.
Coincidentally, I had a client meeting afterwards. We were looking up something on the web, and somehow my firm’s annual State of the Firm video popped up. That branding effort impressed the client, and I feel it contributed to adding value to our relationship.
In all, it is always a pleasure to talk with Jody. I also highly recommend Jody’s new book: "From Success to Significance: The Radical CPA Guide," available at www.cpatrendlines.com. Use code "EdSentMe" for a 25 percent discount.