Who’s that with Rita Keller?

Rita Keller With Elvis

Yesterday, in "The Three Ms of Success for CPA Firms," I wrote about business icon Herb Kelleher's reputation for chain-smoking, Wild Turkey whiskey and his "dressing up as Elvis."

And I added, "As for the Keller I know, she does none of those things. But she does know a thing or two about how a successful accounting firm works."

Well, here's something new about the Rita Keller I know. She gleefully sends along this picture and this note:

Here's a picture of me a few years back at a firm open house with a 50s theme.  I was a pink lady from Grease.

By the way, visit Rita online at

www.ritakeller.com and

Three Ms of Success for CPA Firms

What Rita Keller teaches us from Southwest Airlines' legendary founder.

by Rick Telberg

It's been a rollercoaster ride in the past few years, with firms at first drowning in work, followed by a crippling staff shortage, then a market crash and belt-tightening, then re-expansion with a broadly profitable busy season. So a few weeks of peace and quiet this summer could seem appealing to staff and management alike.

But management guru Rita Keller is here to tell you that you can't afford much rest. "There's work to do," she says about cleaning up rusty and outmoded CPA firm management practices. Keller has a message for firms to focus on marketing, mentoring and managing — the three Ms.


‘Next Gen’ CPA Firm? “Now We’re Talking…”

...says famed practice management consultant Rita Keller.

Talking about "New Rules for the Next Generation Accounting Firm," Rita writes in Comments:

Now we’re talking. I absolutely agree that in the next 10 to 15 years (probably even sooner) we will not recognize the CPA firm of today.

CPA firms have, and continue to, evolve – especially in the use of technology. However, it has been a fairly slow and methodical change. The progressive partners often have to drag the old timers along and that’s hard work. The least the slow-adapters could do would be to pick up their feet (not drag them in the dust to slow things down).

It will take better, smarter, more proactive management from all owners, not just the managing partner. While CPA leaders are indeed very smart and caring human beings and great advisors to business owners, most of them have never received advanced education or even CPE in advanced people skills (soft skills, like listening, coaching, motivating and mentoring). A big factor, just my opinion, is that they absolutely LOVE the numbers, the tax work and auditing. They do not LOVE dealing with “green” new hires.

As the Boomers retire, the next generation of leaders will create organizations that are more nimble and open to continual change and new ideas. They will not get new clients at a Chamber networking event, they’ll get them from Facebook and from blogging. They will keep in touch with referral sources on-line, not at lunch.

To play upon your comment about Blumer’s father, the evolution will occur naturally and rather slowly and the current model will become extinct when some current owners take a hike (no disrespect intended).

As you can tell, I feel strongly about this. I’m going to blog about it today.

And she does, read about the "Possibilities" here...

Rita Keller on: The Staffing Crisis

How to encourage and celebrate CPA exam candidates.

by Rita Keller
Brady Ware

Many firms, especially the large nationals and regional's, have so much work that they do not want their young accountants taking time away from billable work to devote to study and passing the exam. Simply put, client needs come before staff development needs.

However, I am seeing many of the Top 100 firms now beginning to re-emphasize the importance of the exam.

At Brady Ware we did a complete re-engineering of our performance management and advancement policies and procedures. One aspect is that accounting graduates entering the firm have two years from their employment date to pass the CPA exam. "We are a CPA firm, we need CPAs," stated Gary Adamson, Managing Director.

To reinforce the firm's commitment, we offered more generous benefits to support their efforts at passing the exam. Those who had been at the firm but had not passed the exam were given a two-year window.

The accountants actually thanked us for giving them the boost they needed and they appreciated the extra perks. We are nearing the end of the two-year grandfather period and have many success stories. Their progress is closely monitored and communicated throughout the firm. We celebrate each section passed!

Tough Love or Team Play?

Maybe they're both right!

rita-keller-photo-mug.jpgmark-bailey-07.jpgMark Bailey (pictured at left) at Mark Bailey & Co. and Rita Keller (pictured at right) at BradyWare are having a spirited discussion about ranking employees based on performance and value to the firm, and then being frank with them about where they stand in the rankings.

Rita agrees with the Moss Adams method, and quotes CEO Bob Bunting as saying: READ MORE →

4 Steps to Firing a Client

Have something difficult to say to a client? Like "You're fired!"

Here's a very simple and effective approach to resolving client conflicts, via Rita Keller:

  1. Get permission. Ensure that the client has time to talk and pay attention when you make contact.
  2. Stick to the key facts of the situation involving the two of you.
  3. Tell the client how you feel about the dilemma you face and explain your discomfort.
  4. Offer a resolution. Communicate how you would like to end the relationship.