I hope everyone’s tax season wrapped up with immense success. Now, it’s time to shift out of tax season mode for a while (don’t worry, it’ll be back before you know it).
In this article, let’s discuss a firm’s most valuable assets: your client list and your team. While I suspect your response might be, “Duh, Darren!” too often a firm’s business model approach doesn’t include the prioritization of either.
That’s where the concept of Smart Client Management—the active daily management of your firm’s business model—comes in. It also addresses and prioritizes both of the important and valuable assets I mentioned above within your business model.
Smart Client Management involves the management of:
In other words, it’s the active daily management (important words to keep in mind) of your firm’s WHO, WHAT and HOW.
The trouble is, too often firms develop a business model—but then no one in the firm is made responsible for administering its daily execution. This is inevitably where the wheels come off.
Smart Client Management to the rescue
The real breakthrough here is the concept of holistically serving both your current clients and the new clients you onboard into your practice.
What does it mean to holistically serve a client? First, another definition. Holistic refers to the whole of something, so if you operate holistically, you deal with the whole of something, not just one part.
There’s a concept in the marketing world called “client personas.” I’m going to use the term in our case to describe the ideal state of a particular client type. This “ideal state” can also be equated to what a client would look like if they were being holistically served by your firm.
For example, what would it look like to holistically serve an optometry client? What technologies would they use? What tax planning opportunities would you have them take advantage of? What would your meeting cadence be, and which KPIs would you measure? Imagine how easy it would be to answer these questions if you had a clear picture of all the attributes associated with this client persona.
Now, let’s take this a step further. If you could assess where your sample optometry client is at any given time, you could close the gaps between their current state and their ideal state with proactive client management. Note: Each data point in the ideal state should stand for a product that your firm offers. For each gap item found, you can proactively recommend an advisory or core solution that your firm offers.
Back to Smart Client Management, your practice should have one or more team members whose responsibility is to manage your client base (this could include onboarding clients into the business model, as well). We call this person a Smart Client Manager. Their role is to find and manage all opportunities to holistically serve clients—in other words, someone who comes to work every day to execute the firm’s business model.
Consider the following:
Summing it up
Clients want to know your firm is thinking about them. They want you to proactively reach out to them with ideas. The benefit of Smart Client Management is that your client list will feel more holistically served. And based on the opportunities you discover, you can increase revenue without increasing your client base—which makes for a happier team.
The environment in which we run firms has shifted since the pandemic. Quality is now valued more than quantity. The business model of “more is more” is no longer a winning strategy for your clients or your team. Now that you’re out of busy season, take some time to analyze your business model and find what’s sustainable and what isn’t.
It’s time to build a business that supports your client list and your team—your firm’s most valuable assets.
In this month’s Thought Leader, Darren talks about how a firm’s most valuable assets are its client list and team—because when we keep our team happy, we keep our clients happy.
So, why does hiring and retaining staff members top the list of pain points accounting firms and businesses are experiencing?
Let’s have some real talk about this. The hard fact is, valuing the people who keep clients happy hasn’t always been a top priority for business owners and leaders. But, as with many areas in our business, that model is changing—and to retain our best staff, we need to evolve and change with it.
Before we delve into ways to keep your staff happy, ask yourself the following questions to help you understand where your firm stands today and where you can make improvements:
How to make a plan
As you think through and answer the questions above, you may be overwhelmed with what to do next. Don’t be—prioritizing staff appreciation just means that someone owns and is responsible for executing it. That person doesn’t have to be a partner or owner; it just requires a champion who cares about the team and is empowered to develop and execute a plan.
Once the champion is named, it’s time to get the ball rolling. Here are some ideas that will help you get the plan going.
Make it easy for your employees to be happy. Before you say, “Ha! Easier said than done!” remember that as humans we’re complicated, and we come with our own unique challenges and personal…well, stuff. That’s why leaders should make it a priority to understand what your employees truly need.
Do they require flexibility during the day for appointments? Do they coach a team after work, or want to attend an exercise class that would put them in the office after 10:00 a.m. one day a week? Encourage these activities. Support your employees by talking about their needs and enabling them to prioritize their lives along with their work. And show them that you support them by leading by example.
Find out what “connection” means to your team and lead the connection efforts.
Whether your staff works remotely or in the office, it’s easy to implement a program where employees are encouraged to recognize their co-workers’ hard work and help. Here are a couple of ideas on how you can give employees shout-outs:
Make it social. What better way to say “We appreciate you” than a social gathering and celebration? These efforts are easy to budget for and a great way to include everyone. Some ideas to get you thinking:
Give meaningful gifts. Recognize milestones, holidays, birthdays and the change of seasons—or simply say thanks—in a curated way with a company that designs and sends gifts for you. At Rootworks, we show employee appreciation through food and gift delivery services SnackNation and Baudville.
Money is important, but it won’t always do the trick. People like to be recognized in ways that touch their hearts and bring fun to their workday. And when you put time and effort toward employee appreciation, your employees will be motivated to put forth their best efforts. Remember, a successful firm starts with your employees—and we promise, their positivity will radiate outward to envelop your team, firm leaders and clients. A win-win for everyone!
Fall—our wonderful season of change—is upon us! Speaking of change, how are those changes in your firm coming along?
I’d be willing to bet you fall (heh) into one of these three categories:
If you haven’t started reviewing your client list to identify areas of change, let’s start there. If you’re past the review and are into the implementation part—but need some extra tips—jump to the Tips for change section.
Reviewing the client list
Here’s what we’ve heard from our Rootworks members about what they’re working on. Check out the tips in each area for helpful ideas!
Implementing or tweaking technology
If any of the changes that are happening in the firm—or that you want to be happening in the firm—seem too hard and challenging, please say this aloud:
“I can do hard things!”
You’ve got this. Now, go kick some…er, posterior, and take some names while you’re at it!
As we head into the holiday season, I want to remind everyone that it’s more important than ever to stay alert for fraudulent requests and solicitations.
As if they weren’t busy enough the rest of the year, opportunists take full advantage of the holiday flurry to amp up their scams and swindles—many of which aren’t even holiday-related. In fact, this time of year, our web services department tends to see a rise in the number of firms that reach out to us for assistance in verifying the authenticity of contacts related to:
The scammers know that if they use technical terms that sound familiar…but are just scary enough to drive you to action before you have a chance to think through what exactly you’re paying for, their chances of success are greater.
To avoid being caught off guard by an opportunist this holiday season, keep the following in mind:
To lessen the chance that you’ll fall for a domain or SSL security scam, make sure you:
Remember, when in doubt pause, check with your firm’s IT specialist, your registrar’s customer service area or, if you’re a Rootworks member, the Rootworks support department at firstname.lastname@example.org. And rest easier, knowing that your firm is ready for a secure holiday season and the new year!
It’s time to recognize this month’s Rootworks member anniversaries! Help us wish the following firms a Happy Anniversary:
Chase & Chase CPA
Pantana Accounting & Tax Inc
The Pulice Group
Hofer, Humpal & Hadler PC
Butler & Miller, CPA PLLC
Edwards Ingram CPAs
Janet E. O’Herron, CPA LLC
COVA CPA Group
Murphy CPA Group
Prime Tax & Business Services
Slattery & Holman P.C.
Mazanec & Bauer PLC CPAs
Hooks CPA, LLC
Goldberg & Vaccaro Tax Services LLC
Allcox & Associates S.C.
Lopez & Company
Eric R. Nelson CPA LLC
The Leary Group, CPAs & Advisors
Bell Foster Johnson & Watkins, LLP
Five Points Financial
Davis Group, PA, CPAs
Woronoff Hyman Levenson Sweet & Alderman PC
Stenger & Company, LLC
Robert Hall & Associates, PC
RSB & Associates, P.C.
Richard Garrett, CPA/ABV
Congratulations on your success, and we look forward to celebrating many more anniversaries with you and your teams!
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Rootworks members can now use an early access version of Insights, which delivers customer segmentation and pricing data as well as reports for your firm and clients. Connection to QuickBooks Online is required for firms and/or clients.