If a firm already has as much work as it can handle and has difficulty finding competent staff, isn't it irresponsible to be looking for even more work? That question was posed to us at Accounting Tomorrow from Bill McGovern, who owns a full-service CPA firm in
"These kinds of commitments lead to less than quality work, dissatisfied clients, and overburdened employees who leave for better managed firms," McGovern argues.
We wanted to offer our response to this question and open the discussion to other readers.
Not necessarily. These firms need to work smarter, not harder. They can sit down and evaluate what types of work—and which types of clients—earn them the most money and/or cost them the least amount of headaches. Put these ideas in writing and stick to them. Then, it is possible to "fire" those less profitable clients who call all the time with problems that need to be addressed "ASAP" and replace them with new clients. Also, never underestimate the power of technology in helping reduce employee burden. For example, if clients typically call with a certain set of questions, why not post FAQs on the company Web site and direct them there?
With regard to a lack of qualified candidates, don't underestimate the power of part-time seasonal help. If you know a recently retired accountant, chances are that
Good point. Firms do have a responsibility to do things correctly and need to look internally on a regular basis to make sure all their processes are like well-oiled machines. If they aren't they should go back and reassess the areas that creak. If there are staffing issues, aka not enough staff to do work, then certainly the gap between business development and lack of qualified staff needs to be looked at. Why is it that the people doing the rainmaking aren't helping to find competent employees to actually do the work? Look at where the firm is putting its energy and resources and ask if it should be redistributed to an area of need. Still, bringing in more work when a team may not be quite prepared, allows an opportunity of huge growth for staff who may not have had a chance before – as long as the workload is manageable – and that should be measured by management. Under the right kind of mentorship and supervision, a good employee can become a great employee and ultimately, that's what a firm needs to get the job done.
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