Becoming a ‘Media Star’

TV studio with camera in foregroundBeing helpful comes full circle.

By Ed Mendlowitz
Call Me Before You Do Anything: The Art of Accounting

After I began writing regularly for financial and business publications like Boardroom Reports and my firm’s own newsletter, that opened many doors, but the opportunities needed to be actively pursued.

MORE: When Pushing the Pencil Pays Off | Large Clients We Landed from QuickBooks Consulting | 26 Value-Added Benefits Clients Need to Know | How an Out-of-Work Tax Preparer ‘Saved’ Our Lives | I Always Want to be ’The Other Guy’s Accountant’
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An associate producer of a local news program who was a friend of a client once called to ask if I could help her come up with some questions an on-air reporter could ask the tax expert who was going to be interviewed. I spent almost an hour helping her when she remarked how knowledgeable I seemed. She wondered if I would like to be interviewed instead of the person they had in mind.
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When Pushing the Pencil Pays Off

Man writing in notebook at deskHow I became an accidental author.

By Ed Mendlowitz
Call Me Before You Do Anything: The Art of Accounting

I’ve written about publishing a firm newsletter and the opportunities it opened for me. However, I really became a published author when I met Martin Edelston, the founder of Boardroom Reports and Bottom Line/Personal.

MORE: How I Became a Published Author | Don’t Pass Up Opportunities | When to Say No to Pro Bono Work | I Used to Hate QuickBooks | Things Change | Why We ‘Kill’ to Get Partnership Returns Out Quickly | Getting a Referral from an Adversary
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About two years after we started the S&M Newsletter, Marty was publishing Boardroom Reports and was shown one of our newsletters and called asking if he could meet me. Before we met I picked up a bunch of his Boardroom Reports publications to get an idea of what was included and the style.
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How I Became a Published Author

Businessman writing on paperIt starts with clients. Of course.

By Ed Mendlowitz
Call Me Before You Do Anything: The Art of Accounting

I reached a stage in my career when I thought it was important to write articles. I wrote quite a few and sent them to editors, only to have them rejected. The nice ones wrote back rejections. The not-so-nice never bothered to respond at all.

MORE: Don’t Pass Up Opportunities | When to Say No to Pro Bono Work | I Used to Hate QuickBooks | Things Change | How to Be ’the Other Guy’s Accountant’ | Why We ‘Kill’ to Get Partnership Returns Out Quickly | Becoming an Expert in IRS Collections | High CPA Fees Should Be a Client’s Goal | How Hidden Bias Taints Results
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I even had articles typed multiple times to send “originals” to various publications at the same time to no avail. At some point, I gave up but decided to write tax letters to clients.
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Don’t Pass Up Opportunities

Businesswoman working on laptop giving thumbs up signAre you ready to say yes?

By Ed Mendlowitz
Call Me Before You Do Anything: The Art of Accounting

I certainly have been fortunate in my career to become involved in a wide range of activities including interesting clients, great staff and partners, appearing on television, writing articles and books and presenting speeches. People always ask me what I did to get started. My answer is simple: “I never passed up an opportunity that came my way.”

MORE: When to Say No to Pro Bono Work | Large Clients We Landed from QuickBooks Consulting | 26 Value-Added Benefits Clients Need to Know | How an Out-of-Work Tax Preparer ‘Saved’ Our Lives | I Always Want to be ’The Other Guy’s Accountant’
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I have seen many accountants and others pass by – literally kicking aside – opportunities immediately in their path, and then they wonder when they will get their “big break.” What a shame for them.
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When to Say No to Pro Bono Work

Young businesswoman putting hand out in "stop" gesture while sipping coffeeSome people can afford to pay for your efforts – and should.

By Ed Mendlowitz
Call Me Before You Do Anything: The Art of Accounting

I just finished reading John Grisham’s novel “Gray Mountain,” about a young attorney working in a legal aid clinic. At one point she is asked to prepare a will for a woman with property worth about $200,000. This reminded me of some pro bono work I have been asked to do for people who could clearly afford it, and that caused resentment by me.

MORE: Large Clients We Landed from QuickBooks Consulting | Why We Train on Excel, Word and Adobe | Stop Pricing by the Hour | Getting by Giving Back | Some Mistakes I Made | Growing with a Client | Getting a Referral from an Adversary | Start with the Cash | Why a Break-Even Analysis Matters
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I have done my share of real pro bono work and was glad to do it. It left me satisfied that I was able to help someone. But for those who could afford it, I felt like a sap.
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Large Clients We Landed from QuickBooks Consulting

Two women in office shake handsSometimes small bait catches big fish.

By Ed Mendlowitz
Call Me Before You Do Anything: The Art of Accounting

I’ve written about QuickBooks and how we became the largest QB consultants in New Jersey along with receiving a few clients with very substantial fees. I’ve gotten some calls asking about them and what we did, so here is a description of three of them.

MORE: Why We Train on Excel, Word and Adobe | I Used to Hate QuickBooks | Things Change | How to Be ’the Other Guy’s Accountant’ | Why We ‘Kill’ to Get Partnership Returns Out Quickly | My First Thought Is to Never Turn Down Business | Becoming an Expert in IRS Collections
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The first client was someone who called asking to spend only one hour with us. At the time our minimum was five hours. We figured we would do him a favor and we told him the hourly rate if he would come to our office. He was a very nice, well-dressed man and spent the hour. He called us about a month later and asked if he could “buy another hour.”
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Why We Train on Excel, Word and Adobe

Woman training man at computerAre you losing time every day?

By Ed Mendlowitz
Call Me Before You Do Anything: The Art of Accounting

I’ve written about my introduction to QuickBooks and how we took our entire staff to a training course for it.

MORE: I Used to Hate QuickBooks | 26 Value-Added Benefits Clients Need to Know | How an Out-of-Work Tax Preparer ‘Saved’ Our Lives | I Always Want to be ’The Other Guy’s Accountant’ | Learning from Lee Iacocca Et Al. | I Lost a Client to an Accounting Firm with Cheaper Fees
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Today I am writing about training for the most basic software we use: Excel, Word and Adobe. We have taken our staff to courses for these programs and have periodic in-house training, but I realize many firms do not.
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I Used to Hate QuickBooks

Businessman looking thoughtfulThink about who you're serving.

By Ed Mendlowitz
Call Me Before You Do Anything: The Art of Accounting

I really used to hate QuickBooks, but not anymore.

MORE: 26 Value-Added Benefits Clients Need to Know | Stop Pricing by the Hour | Getting by Giving Back | Some Mistakes I Made | Growing with a Client | Getting a Referral from an Adversary | Start with the Cash | Why a Break-Even Analysis Matters
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When QB came out, most of my small business clients were using DOS-based accounting software, and we were using similar software for our after-the-fact work. At some point we were getting new clients that had purchased QB and we needed to learn how to use it. The first few times I worked on such clients I started compiling a list of the specifics of what was “wrong” with QB.
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Live 1-hour Webinar: Best Practices for Client Communications and Interactions in Accounting Firms

CPA Trendlines "Practice Doctor" Ed Mendlowitz shares best practices in networking and personal branding in this webinar.

Thursday, Oct. 31
9 a.m. PT, 10 a.m. MT, 11 a.m. CT, Noon ET
1 hour, 1 CPE

Register Today | Learn More

While technical accounting and tax skills are essential, the skills that help you climb the corporate ladder and become successful in running your own business are soft skills like networking.

You'll learn:
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26 Bonus Benefits Clients Need to Know

Businesspeople having a meeting over coffee sitting together at a table discussing a document, young man and two middle-aged women presentAre you letting your clients know all the value-added ways you can make their business lives better?

By Ed Mendlowitz
Call Me Before You Do Anything: The Art of Accounting

Here are some value-added benefits to consider when performing obligatory services such as an audit or tax return, or any work for a client.

MORE: Stop Pricing by the Hour | Things Change | How to Be ’the Other Guy’s Accountant’ | Why We ‘Kill’ to Get Partnership Returns Out Quickly | My First Thought Is to Never Turn Down Business | The Background to Saving a Business
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This is not – cannot be – a complete list, but you can use this to help think about the benefits and value you bring to the client on every project or assignment you do for them. Have a look, and let me know in comments what you think. What would you add to the list? What would you eliminate? READ MORE →

Stop Pricing by the Hour

Scale with coins on one side, alarm clock on the otherWhat are you really selling?

By Ed Mendlowitz
Call Me Before You Do Anything: The Art of Accounting

When I was starting out I read a number of books by master salesman Elmer Wheeler, who said, among many other things, “Sell the sizzle, not the steak.”

MORE: Things Change | How an Out-of-Work Tax Preparer ‘Saved’ Our Lives | I Always Want to be ’The Other Guy’s Accountant’ | Learning from Lee Iacocca Et Al. | How I Saved a Business | The Staffer Who Was Too Smart | How I Got a Mercedes as a Fee
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This left me with thoughts of always telling clients, or whomever I interacted with, about the value and benefits of dealing with me while de-emphasizing the cost.
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Things Change

Businessman holding a wastebasket with a desktop computer in it“We have to use what has become almost universal if we want to be connected.”

By Ed Mendlowitz
Call Me Before You Do Anything: The Art of Accounting

Innovation requires change, and many of us resist or are reluctant to change. But hopefully not me.

MORE: How an Out-of-Work Tax Preparer ‘Saved’ Our Lives | Getting by Giving Back | Some Mistakes I Made | Growing with a Client | Start with the Cash | Why a Break-Even Analysis Matters | How I Owned a Printing Company and Restaurant | Kennedy’s Acceptance Speech | What Consulting Is
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I continually look for what’s new that can be adapted to what I am doing. Sometimes it’s hard to keep up and it seems it is getting harder and harder.
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How an Out-of-Work Tax Preparer ‘Saved’ Our Lives

Portrait of a cheerful businessman smiling at the cameraAlways be ready to help others.

By Ed Mendlowitz
Call Me Before You Do Anything: The Art of Accounting

A number of years ago we purchased a practice in late February to get the business clients. However, we had to agree to service the individual tax clients, of whom there were about 180, with each paying a very low fee. The seller did not want to hang up his longtime clients.

MORE: Getting by Giving Back | How to Be ’the Other Guy’s Accountant’ | Why We ‘Kill’ to Get Partnership Returns Out Quickly | My First Thought Is to Never Turn Down Business | The Background to Saving a Business
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We had just moved the files into our office and were really concerned about how we could get the returns done without totally straining our system when Lenny called asking if we had any per-diem tax season work for him.
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