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Getting New Clients: What’s Working, What’s Not

Referrals remain stalwart. Social media weakens. But who's mastering websites?

By CPA Trendlines Research

Some practices just need more clients. Some need a more cost-effective way to find them and sign them up. Some are looking for ways to liberate their less profitable or more difficult clients and replace them with others more conducive to getting the job done with minimal hassle and maximum moolah.

The new NMGI-Insight Research Group’s second annual Accounting Firm Operations and Technology Survey gives us some insight into what firms across the nation are doing to attract clients.

To no one’s surprise, referrals from current clients remains the most common source of new clients. No fewer than 95.1% of respondents report referrals as a sales channel. That number was close to consistent across all sizes of firms. For solo practitioners, it was 94.2%. It was highest for small firms (11-10 employees) at 96.8%. It was lower for mid-sized firms (11-50 employees) at 93.9%, and lowest of all for large firms, where referrals are the source of 92% of new clients.

What’s interesting, however, is that the overall percent has increased since last year, when 92.6% reported new clients by referral. With all the new and burgeoning sources of information — social media, websites, internet advertising — why are referrals an increasing source of clients? READ MORE →

Why 30% of CPA Firm Retirement Plans Are Defective

Senior businessman holding briefcaseMake provisions, or state partnership laws may do it for you.

By Marc Rosenberg
Retirements & Buyouts

Twenty to thirty percent of all accounting firm partnership agreements have no provision for goodwill-based retirement payments to partners departing due to death, disability, retirement or withdrawal.

MORE ON RETIREMENT: The Top 10 Mistakes in Partner Retirement Plans | 20 New, Essential Keys for Today’s Partner Retirement Plans | You Want Goodwill Payments? Give Proper Retirement Notice | Compromise Is In Order for Some Goodwill Payouts | Three Ways to Calculate Goodwill Payable in Partner Buyouts, None of Them Great | The Ins and Outs of AAV for Goodwill | 5 Points to Consider When Paying Out Goodwill | How to Set Terms and Limits for Goodwill Payouts

The reasons for this could be any or all of the following:

  1. They can’t agree on buyout terms.
  2. They don’t want to make retirement payments.
  3. They don’t address buyout provisions in their partner agreement because their exit strategy is to merge up.
  4. They haven’t gotten around to it (usually a copout for the above).


3 Tips for Following Up with Prospects

Businesswoman talking on phoneIt's the key to 98 percent of your sales.

By Sandi Smith Leyva
The Accountant’s Accelerator

It seems there are hundreds of questions swirling around how to follow up with prospects.

MORE ON SMALL-FIRM GROWTH STRATEGIES: 5 Ways a Deadline Can Help Close a Deal | If You Don’t Develop Your Business, Who Will? | 7 Ways to Get New Revenue from Old Clients | Draw New Clients In Like a Magnet | 11 Ways to Add Value for Clients | 9 Ways to Increase Sales through ‘Power Networking’ | 5 Things You Know That Clients Don’t | 3 Ways to Test Your Revenue Forecast | 8 Must-Haves for a Prospect Kit | Whip Out the Wow Factor for Clients | How to Work the Same Hours and Make More Money

The raw truth is that very few people follow up at all. On average, only 2 percent of people buy on the first contact with a vendor.

So if you’re not following up, you’re walking away from 98 percent of your sales.

Here are my tips to maximize sales and take the pain out of following up: READ MORE →

5 Radical Ways to Be Social AND Strategic

Plus specific tips for each one. You know we wouldn't leave you hanging.

Man's hand writing social media strategies on a whiteboard

By Jody Padar
The Radical CPA

So you want to get on social media? Good! Define your strategy. When I started using social, I was having fun and didn’t have a strategy, except to see what was happening — and it evolved. Jump in, get started and you’ll formulate a game plan naturally. Here’s some help:

Jody Padar, The Radical CPA

Jody Padar, The Radical CPA; learn more

MORE ON RADICALISM: How Social Media Transforms Firms to their Core | 10 Radical Steps into the Cloud | Six Competitive Advantages for The Radical CPA | Radical Customers Are On Their Way | The Market Is Moving Toward the Radicals | 5 Radical Transparencies; Are You Ready? | 4 Questions Radical Firms Must Face | Being Radical Is All About Your Customer | Why Start Being Radical Now? | Going Radical: The 4 Tenets of a ‘New Firm’ | Why Should CPAs Be Radical? | The Roots of ‘Radical’ CPAs | The First 3 Questions I Should Have Asked Before Starting My Own Practice


Sailing Through the Seven C’s to Partnership

Martin Bissett


Competence comes first. But it's only a prerequisite.

BONUS WORKSHEETS: 11 Questions to Plan Your Path to Partnership

By Martin Bissett
Passport to Partnership

Staffers aspiring to be partners must learn the key characteristics of successful partners. They also must learn how to develop their own personal plans to achieve partnership. Firms and staffers alike need a clear set of procedures, processes and milestones for turning top talent into the next generation of firm leadership.

There are seven critically important criteria by which partners assess partners-to-be. I call them:

The Seven C's READ MORE →

Single-Owner Firms Trail Bigger Competitors in Tax Prep

z_tax tougher year for sllos vs othersAnalysis shows smaller firms having the most trouble.

CPA Trendlines Research

This year's busy season was a tough one for America’s tax preparers. CPA Trendlines’ surveys reveal a panoply of gripes from sea to shining sea: Affordable Care Act problems. New regulations problems. Computer problems. Client problems. Even health problems and weather problems seemed worse. READ MORE →

Use Others to Promote Your Protégée

Businesswoman presenting chart to colleagues9 ways to help her be more visible and get better assignments.

By Ida O. Abbott
Sponsoring Women: What Men Need to Know

Promoting your protégée to others is an important part of sponsorship.

MORE ON SPONSORING WOMEN FOR LEADERSHIP: 8 Ways Sponsors Can Highlight Opportunities | 17 Ways Sponsors Can Help Protégées What Sponsors Need from Protégées | 3 Ways to Derail Sponsorships | Keep Close Relationships From Getting Too Close | 4 Ways Sponsors Can Help Women Seek Power | Judged on Performance, Not Potential? Must Be a Woman | Why Women Are Overlooked (And How to Fix It) | 3 Ways Men Are Favored in the Workplace | Women Need Promotions, Not Just Advice | 4 Ways Women Leaders Improve Firms | CPA Firms Must ‘Man Up’ and Get Women On Board

Here are nine concrete steps: READ MORE →

Why Even The Best and Biggest CPA Firms Are Losing Their Best and Brightest Talent

Despite paying top dollar for top talent, old-line firms are losing Gen Y staffers with bigger ambitions.

Derek Davis, The Shared Economy CPA, talks about launching the first app-first CPA firm

By Rick Telberg
CPA Trendlines Research

With CPA firms locked in a battle for top-level talent, wages are advancing at record rates in desperate efforts to both retain and recruit highly-prized professionals, according to CPA Trendlines research.

Partners and staffers alike, feeling stifled and underused at their current firms, are finding a broad array of new opportunities at other firms. And where they can’t find the right position at another firm, they are creating their own.

Los Angeles CPA Derek Davis, for example, left a career at a Big Four firm to start his own practice. But his first hire wasn’t an assistant. And his first partner wasn’t another CPA. Instead, Davis teamed with a software designer. And they didn’t open an office, they launched an iPhone app.


Soloists Lag Multi-Owner Firms in Economic Confidence

Multi-partner firms show bullish signs. Soloists turn bearish on the U.S. economy.

CPA Trendlines Research

z-busy solos vs other in otlookCPAs aren’t economists, but they do know numbers, and they have their fingers on the pulse of the flow of money in their local areas. They know how their own businesses and their clients’ businesses are doing, and they have at least an inkling of the causes. Remembering 2014 and living through the 2015 busy season, they are well placed to prognosticate on financial flows over the next 12 months.

CPA Trendlines survey research detects a certain optimism, but it seems to be a bit more cautious among solo practitioners. READ MORE →