March 15th, 2022 has come and gone. By now your business clients have either completed their returns, filed extensions, or are an LLC c -corp. For some firms that means a bit of a breather. That meant I also had calls with several of our client firms this week. These were all set before the season as follows ups and check-in meetings.
These meetings are good for reviewing items that occurred during the high busy time when time is short, tempers are shorter and something may get missed or, if we are lucky, get noticed. In one day, this week I had three scheduled all before noon.
All three were happy with the work, wanted to coordinate to push more, yeah!!! Then the conversations turned in a different direction. I wonder where readers if there are any reading these babbles from my head, will see their firm.
Call one: with three partners, 8 account managers, and 6-8 seats with us depending on the season. This review was about how much faster we were. Granted we got slammed early on but in the prior year and a half we utilized off tax season time to convert this firm’s client files to AdvanceFlow. That was a long slog, but it appears worth it. Those trial balance jobs run through this system decreased the amount of time to do any of the TB work we were assigned. We could compare the import feature to the manual method and define the % of time saved per job. Let’s hear it for an application that delivers on its promise of faster and better. We also use this same application with an auditing firm. That was a good call with a happy client.
Call two: The next call was from a single-person firm not performing tax but rather a bookkeeping firm with 3 onshore bookkeepers and 1 offshore. Stressed, overwhelmed, chasing documents and clients everywhere. They have clients in multiple states and in multiple types of businesses. Although they have a detailed service agreement with clients, they are being asked to work off scope all the time. The clients are dictating, and the three onshore bookkeepers are pushing it to the owner of the firm, per his instructions. Now it comes time to pay, and the client is saying, hey what about my flat rate? The owner is frustrated as he is trying to build the bookkeeping company but says he is too busy dealing with client minutia because no one else can. Hmm, I asked him why he felt the people he hired cannot do the work. “Well, the clients want to talk to me only!” Yep, clients are dictating, the staff is allowing it and the owner may need to think about the validity of his ability to own a firm. If you believe you are the only one that can do it, then don’t bother to hire anyone else. The good ones will leave, and the lazy ones will stay and let the mess keep happening. A leader learns to delegate. I asked him to take a breath, think of his best clients, focus on what it was he liked about them. Then I said, ok got the picture in your head? Now go out and fire the clients that are not in that picture. Then get more clients that can be part of that picture. And think seriously about if you want to have employees that you do not trust, and that lack of trust not being anything they did or did not do.
Call three: The firm is one CPA owner, 2 account managers, three offshore bookkeepers. Full-service firm but fully in a vertical that encompasses business in the vertical across the US. Work is moving all is well. Everyone is pretty much in the same tech stack. She was glad it was almost April 15th. But the last comment was interesting. “I hate having to do bookkeeping, I just want to do advisory work.” Hmmm, so how do you propose to do advisory if you do not have good clean books all the time? Yep, she laughed. Can’t have the cake without first baking it. However, her frustration was more from the promise of AI and real-time not really working. Security, a good thing is making the obtaining of transactions and statements difficult. Even long-standing apps that assisted are failing not due to the app but rather the proprietary and high-security features being implemented at some banks and credit card companies. We spoke about utilizing other banks, having the business use a different credit card method. Ones that work with businesses and accountants. I gave her several recommendations. She said my clients will never switch. I said look at the interest they are paying on those traditional bank cards. Then show them how they could manage that better. It took a bit, but I think there will be a few businesses that are going to get a call about how they can use a fintech bank and fintech card company and save time and money.
After that final client review call, I took my dogs to the park, the sun was shining, and they enjoyed all the fetching they wanted. Yeah, I am glad we passed March 15th too.