How to Be the Chief Communicator

Man on the phone in officeIf you follow this plan, you'll have the time and reap the benefits.

By Frank Stitely
The Relentless CPA

Your role as chief communicator is closely related to your traffic cop role. In the traffic cop role, we covered prodding clients to keep projects moving along, but there is more to client communications than just moving projects along to completion.

MORE: The Tax Practice Traffic Cop | The Land Mines in Tax Returns | How to Teach Reviewing and Time Management | How to Coach Your Staff | Give Your People the Resources They Need | 4 Steps to Take Before Next Tax Season | How to Create Good Managers | 4 Tips for Managing Advanced Preparers | 3 Tips for Handling Rookie Tax Preparers | How to Hire and Manage Great Admin Staff | The Right Way to Assign Staff Projects
GoProCPA.comExclusively for PRO Members. Log in here or upgrade to PRO today.

How many times per day do clients contact you to ask such pressing questions as, “Are my dog’s vet bills deductible medical expenses?” The answer is yes, if your vet holds dual DVM and MD degrees and your dog is classified as a dependent on your tax return. See IRS code section 999, subsection C, paragraph 666.
READ MORE →

The Tax Practice Traffic Cop

illustration of traffic lightAuto-nagging isn't always enough.

By Frank Stitely
The Relentless CPA

One of your roles as CEO is chief traffic cop. You keep the flow of returns moving along the information superhighway that is your workflow system. You manage the managers. You remove process bottlenecks. You soothe irritable clients.

MORE: The Land Mines in Tax Returns | How to Teach Reviewing and Time Management | 4 Steps to Take Before Next Tax Season | Some Uncommon Advice on Hiring Full-Time Staff | What Goes Into a Client Project? | The Value-Pricing Con Job | The 21st-Century CPA Firm | Ruthlessly Efficient Workflow Management
GoProCPA.comExclusively for PRO Members. Log in here or upgrade to PRO today.

I live in 15-minute increments during tax season. There are four things I do over and over and over again:
READ MORE →

The Land Mines in Tax Returns

Woman reading paper document at office desk in front of computerData entry errors = public beheadings.

By Frank Stitely
The Relentless CPA

Your next role as CEO is reviewer. There are two types of review: primary and secondary.

MORE: How to Teach Reviewing and Time Management | How to Coach Your Staff | How to Create Good Managers | How to Hire and Manage Great Admin Staff | Managing People: The Heart of Effective Project Management | Tammy’s Tale of Tax Season Tardiness | Beware the Leeches and Consultants | The Value-Pricing Con Job | The 21st-Century CPA Firm | Ruthlessly Efficient Workflow Management | The Annual Tax Meeting is Dead. Clients Killed It.
GoProCPA.comExclusively for PRO Members. Log in here or upgrade to PRO today.

Depending on the size of your firm, you may only have primary reviews. If your firm consists of you and a preparer, you won’t have a second level of review. I don’t consider the self-review as a review step. I consider it part of preparation.
READ MORE →

How to Teach Reviewing and Time Management

Businessman sitting in office and reading documentsAvoid “what’s the status of” hell.

By Frank Stitely
The Relentless CPA

Let’s discuss two training issues in detail: teaching time management and teaching review skills.

MORE: How to Coach Your Staff | Give Your People the Resources They Need | 4 Tips for Managing Advanced Preparers | The Right Way to Assign Staff Projects | Workflow for Dummies
GoProCPA.comExclusively for PRO Members. Log in here or upgrade to PRO today.

The biggest training gift that you can give your staff is time management training. You may want to offer formal training, but I have never found one that was really specific to CPA firms and the daily challenges we face.
READ MORE →

How to Coach Your Staff

Confident businessman analyzing chart and explaining it to co-workerAlso, don't let your managers hoard work.

By Frank Stitely
The Relentless CPA

To recap, your first role as CEO is chief strategist. That means putting the right people in the right roles with the right resources.

MORE: Give Your People the Resources They Need | 4 Steps to Take Before Next Tax Season | 3 Tips for Handling Rookie Tax Preparers | Some Uncommon Advice on Hiring Full-Time Staff | What Goes Into a Client Project? | Value Pricers Ignore Half the Pricing Puzzle | CPAs Can’t Help You
GoProCPA.comExclusively for PRO Members. Log in here or upgrade to PRO today.

Your second role is trainer and coach. This role is closely related to your role as chief strategist. You can’t put the right people in the right positions without the right people. This second role is about creating and keeping the right people.
READ MORE →

Give Your People the Resources They Need

Woman scanning a documentSeriously consider your rate of return.

By Frank Stitely
The Relentless CPA

We have talked about putting the right people in the right places. Let’s discuss giving them the right resources.

MORE: 4 Steps to Take Before Next Tax Season | How to Create Good Managers | How to Hire and Manage Great Admin Staff | Managing People: The Heart of Effective Project Management
GoProCPA.comExclusively for PRO Members. Log in here or upgrade to PRO today.

Little angers me as much as getting cheap when it comes to giving staff what they need. Here’s an example from my wife’s career as a federal government contractor.
READ MORE →

4 Steps to Take Before Next Tax Season

Young businesswoman working on laptop computer with growth chart in backgroundThink of yourself as a CEO.

By Frank Stitely
The Relentless CPA

Please have a seat. No, not that one. Take the one next to me. All of us are here because we love you to death. We only want the best for you. But we can no longer stand by and watch you suffer. When you suffer, we all suffer as a family. We have written some letters to let you know how we feel. I’ll let your firm go first.

MORE: How to Create Good Managers | 4 Tips for Managing Advanced Preparers | The Right Way to Assign Staff Projects | Workflow for Dummies | How Effective Project Management Makes Your Life Easier | 2 Lessons Clients Taught Me | No Consultant Can Solve Your Biggest Problem
GoProCPA.comExclusively for PRO Members. Log in here or upgrade to PRO today.

“Your behavior has affected me negatively in the following manner. I’m not as profitable as I should be. You are stifling the development of your staff. Your clients are upset that returns aren’t getting done on time. Your kids resemble the mailman more than you.

“Please accept the help we are offering you today. We have your bags packed, and we’ll put you on a plane to rehab at the beach. Don’t worry about scoring your next fix. We’ll help you detox safely. But you must decide right now. You must give up your addiction to doing everything yourself.”
READ MORE →

How to Create Good Managers

Young woman lying on the desk at office and holding magic wand in her handYour deadline is April 5, not April 15. Here's why.

By Frank Stitely
The Relentless CPA

Good managers are a special breed. They possess that most valuable, difficult and rare of skills – the ability to review others’ work.

MORE: 4 Tips for Managing Advanced Preparers | 3 Tips for Handling Rookie Tax Preparers | Some Uncommon Advice on Hiring Full-Time Staff | What Goes Into a Client Project? | Value Pricers Ignore Half the Pricing Puzzle | CPAs Can’t Help You | The Agile Accountant
GoProCPA.comExclusively for PRO Members. Log in here or upgrade to PRO today.

Review skills require deep technical knowledge combined with an extraordinary attention to detail. And that’s not all. They need dazzling communication skills to be able to deliver criticism gently.
READ MORE →

4 Tips for Managing Advanced Preparers

Purple No. 4 billiard ballGood project management software also helps.

By Frank Stitely
The Relentless CPA

Managing advanced-level preparers sounds easier than it is. These preparers will all have blind spots that appear at inconvenient times. Some won’t be able to adapt to your internal procedures, because they worked at firms without well-defined procedures.

MORE: 3 Tips for Handling Rookie Tax Preparers | How to Hire and Manage Great Admin Staff | Managing People: The Heart of Effective Project Management | Tammy’s Tale of Tax Season Tardiness | Beware the Leeches and Consultants | The 21st-Century CPA Firm | Ruthlessly Efficient Workflow Management
GoProCPA.comExclusively for PRO Members. Log in here or upgrade to PRO today.

We had one person who insisted on printing out the prior year tax returns and workpapers before beginning a return. She said she just needed the paper in her hands. That didn’t work for us.
READ MORE →

3 Tips for Handling Rookie Tax Preparers

... and 4 challenges.

By Frank Stitely
The Relentless CPA

How do you train up newly-hired tax preparers?

MORE: How to Hire and Manage Great Admin Staff | The Right Way to Assign Staff Projects | Workflow for Dummies | How Effective Project Management Makes Your Life Easier | 2 Lessons Clients Taught Me | No Consultant Can Solve Your Biggest Problem | The Great Marketing Hoax
GoProCPA.comExclusively for PRO Members. Log in here or upgrade to PRO today.

Hint: Don't start with taxes. READ MORE →

How to Hire and Manage Great Admin Staff

Businesswoman shaking hands with someone out of view3 key points to remember.

By Frank Stitely
The Relentless CPA

You can divide staff into four categories: administrative, entry-level preparer, advanced preparer and manager.

MORE: The Right Way to Assign Staff Projects | Some Uncommon Advice on Hiring Full-Time Staff | What Goes Into a Client Project? | Value Pricers Ignore Half the Pricing Puzzle
GoProCPA.comExclusively for PRO Members. Log in here or upgrade to PRO today.

I’m tempted to state that administrative employees are the most important people in your firm. I won’t go quite that far, but your administrative staff are every bit the face of your firm that you are.
READ MORE →

The Right Way to Assign Staff Projects

Magnet drawing in three people... and then manage their workloads.

By Frank Stitely
The Relentless CPA

Let’s talk about assigning staff to projects. Understand that this discussion will mean nothing the first two weeks of April, when you may be assigning the family dog to some returns.

MORE: Some Uncommon Advice on Hiring Full-Time Staff | Managing People: The Heart of Effective Project Management | Tammy’s Tale of Tax Season Tardiness | Beware the Leeches and Consultants | The Value-Pricing Con Job | The 21st-Century CPA Firm | Ruthlessly Efficient Workflow Management | The Annual Tax Meeting is Dead. Clients Killed It.
GoProCPA.comExclusively for PRO Members. Log in here or upgrade to PRO today.

And that makes perfect sense in those circumstances. I’ve done worse. Who knew that goldfish can’t type?
READ MORE →

Some Uncommon Advice on Hiring Full-Time Staff

Your best bet is to be on the lookout all the time.

By Frank Stitely
The Relentless CPA

Finding full-time staff is a different beast altogether. Avoid recruiters. Most of their candidates are looking for jobs for good reasons. Nearly all of a recruiter’s candidates’ resumes will have the following job histories:

MORE: Managing People: The Heart of Effective Project Management | Tammy’s Tale of Tax Season Tardiness | Beware the Leeches and Consultants | The Value-Pricing Con Job | The 21st-Century CPA Firm | Ruthlessly Efficient Workflow Management | The Annual Tax Meeting is Dead. Clients Killed It.
GoProCPA.comExclusively for PRO Members. Log in here or upgrade to PRO today.

Job 1: 1.5 years (This company sucked.)

Job 2: 6 months (This company sucked worse.)

Job 3: 2 years (Fine company but they wouldn’t pay me $150,000 per year for billing $80,000 per year.)
READ MORE →