The Bible for an Accounting Firm

On the Seventh Day

Chapter 1 – Introduction – What makes a great Firm

Chapter 2 – Establishing your Vision

Chapter 3 – The Numbers Game (The Profitability Formula)

Chapter 4 – Personnel (The Hiring Process & Development) (Profiling, no Titles)

Chapter 5 – Processes (Use of technology, efficiencies, challenge, outside the box)

Chapter 6 – Billing/Pricing

Chapter 7 – Resources (Associations, Consultants, Upstream Academy, Books – Aristotle, FPA, David Cottle)

The Analysis Process

Are you sure that you are competitive with regard to your Peers?!  Are you making as much as you should?  Are systems as efficient as they should be?  Is your hourly rate appropriate?  Are you current with your software & are you using it appropriately?

Chapter 1 Introduction

This book is a compilation of what I have learned in my working career and an attempt to put in writing something that will be concise and practical for others.

So what makes a great firm?  After working in the CPA profession for over twenty-five years, the last twenty as the managing partner of a 100+ person CPA firm, after being a member of the largest accounting association in North America where you meet, discuss and share ideas with other managing partners, after attending seminars with the top consultants for the accounting profession and after hiring and working with these consultants, after reading the top authors, Maister, Cottle, Baker, you eventually begin to get a sense of what makes a great firm.  Here is what I have found:

  • Great firms have the ability to pass their Firm to future generations.  They think and operate for the long term, not the short term.
  • Great firms hire personnel who have strong technical skills, are innately intelligent, are extremely ethical and have strong work habits.
  • Great firms adhere to standards, they go beyond what is required, and are unwilling to compromise on the small things.
  • Great firms have the desire to always do it “right”.
  • Great firms have a nurturing environment, supportive of their people, not just in words but in actions.
  • Great firms make mistakes, don’t point fingers but rather learn from them.
  • Great firms have outstanding client service, they meet the unexpressed needs of their clients, and they exceed expectations.
  • Great firms know how they stack up with their competitors: they benchmark.
  • Great firms are able to grow their business in good or bad economic times.

Let me share an experience that sums up what makes great firms and great organizations.  I have had the good fortune and distinct privilege of being able to stay at various Ritz Carlton Hotels in various parts of the country over the last several years.  Each time, the experience is always the same, absolutely fantastic!  I am amazed at how they are able to replicate the overall quality experience and outstanding level of service from one location to another: year after year, day after day, and city to city.  The rooms are immaculate, the reception areas welcoming and uplifting, the elevators and corridors are spotless, the numerous chandeliers with all their prisms hanging down, sparkle & glitter.  The flowers on display are always fresh, no dying or droopy vegetation to be found anywhere.  No dirt, no dust, and no trash throughout the property.  The food is incredible with all of it made on site, including the deserts.  The portions are appropriate, not too small nor too big.  You leave feeling well fed but not stuffed.  The pool areas, locker room facilities, workout areas are clean with attendants willing to respond to any need you may have.  You feel as if you are the only person in the Hotel, when you know there are thousands.

What makes them different?  Why don’t other Hotel chains copy what they do?  You would think they would want to.  Some have tried but they can’t.  Why?  It is not price, they are not bashful about charging for the room, or a drink, or a hamburger, or a steak or a chocolate chip cookie made by their dessert chief.  What is it that brings people back, like myself; year after year knowing they could stay down the road for a lot less?  How do they insure that the level of service and the overall guest experience remains high?

As they state in their Credo, “the Ritz-Carlton experience enlivens the senses, instills well-being, and fulfills even the unexpressed wishes and needs of our guest”.  So what have they figured out?  Why is it that when you first walk into their Hotel, you immediately feel that your senses have been awaken, you are more relaxed, energized, invigorated and you have just begun the Ritz experience?

So what have they figured out?

1)      They have an overall vision of what they are all about.

2)      Uncompromising focus on their guest.

3)      Standardize processes to insure that they fulfill their vision.

4)      Hire well.  They have a clear understanding of the type of individual they want.

5)      Train and Train and Train.

6)      Leave nothing to chance philosophy.

Is this it?  Doesn’t sound too difficult!  Definitely heard this before!  So why are they unique? Why have they been able to create such a great organization?  Let’s peel it back a little and discuss in more detail what each of theses things really mean.   In this book, we are going to take each of these concepts and talk about how you can implement them in your organization.   If you do, you will be a stronger and more profitable firm.