Art of Accounting: Wasted lunch opportunity

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A colleague mentioned that his partners never want to leave the office for lunch, preferring to eat at their desks.

He is the senior partner and has always eaten out — usually with a client or referral source and sometimes with a friend or his wife. He read my 30th anniversary blog post, where I mention my lunches with my partners and asked me how I got this started.

To be honest, until I became a partner with Peter Weitsen, I did not have lunch with my partners, but if I was in the office, I always had lunch with some of the staff people. In my New York City practice my partners and I usually had lunch with clients. When my partners were in the office, they were always rushing to get something done. When I was in the office, I was probably just as busy but felt I needed to get some fresh air. I would go to a restaurant and asked some staff I liked to join me. I don’t believe I ever had lunch at my desk. When Peter and I became partners, we had to staff up very quickly and I really had no relationship with the new staff. Further, since Peter and I were swamped with work, we never spoke about non-client matters when we were in the office. As I was in the habit of going out for lunch, we would go together and that would give us time to talk about our practice, or rather, our business.

Those lunches proved invaluable. We not only were able to better manage our practice, but we came up with many ideas for marketing, client service, staff training and development, and new services we could offer our clients. Those lunches helped make us successful. It also helped that we liked each other. We also still have those lunches, 30 years later, and usually have some of our other partners and even younger staff join us. It has become a very productive part of our day.

If you are not having lunches with your partners outside your office, try it a couple of times. I believe you will start seeing some good dividends. If you don’t, contact me and let’s talk it out. Also, check out the other things we did in the blog linked above.

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) 964-9329 or emendlowitz@withum.com.

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Partnerships Practice management Ed Mendlowitz