Who’s Your Most Valuable Employee?

Don’t be the fool in the room.

By Frank Stitely
The Relentless CPA

We have been heavily in the numbers so far. Let’s take a break from that to discuss a factor that, while not heavily numeric, plays a big factor in managing WIP – employee productivity. Because capacity is the denominator in the Lean Six Sigma equation, and employee productivity is a big factor in capacity, employee productivity becomes a big factor in determining turnaround time.

MORE: How to Implement the Laziness Equation | The Happier, Saner, Richer Tax Firm | Avoiding Projects Hung Up in Process | Teaching the Meaning of ‘Done’ | Why Millennials Are the Answer | Calculating and Cutting Turnaround Time
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First, let’s dismiss from the room all the consultants, who tell us that time tracking and productivity metrics don’t matter. For the most part, these consultants have never managed or owned CPA firms. Rarely have they worked in firms for any length of time.
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How to Implement the Laziness Equation

Time is money : clock hands on $100 billsCalculate and cut turnaround time.

By Frank Stitely
The Relentless CPA

One of the funniest parts of launching Clarity Practice Management has been watching my business partner, Peter Daniel, learn about the business acumen of CPAs and accountants. Peter and I founded Clarity as a collaboration between a CPA firm client (Peter) and a CPA firm (me.). He knew what he wanted from a client perspective, and I knew what we wanted as a CPA firm.

MORE: The Happier, Saner, Richer Tax Firm | ‘Quick Questions’ and Other Client Sins | When Clients Create Errors | How We Killed the Tax Season Client Meeting | Why Small Firms Can Win the Talent Wars | There Are No Easy Answers | How to Thrive as a 21st-Century Firm
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Peter owns a software development company and believes in the rational decision-making model for businesses. The rational decision-making model is totally irrelevant to the way most CPAs and accountants run their practices. For instance, consider this interchange between Peter and a practitioner at our Clarity booth during a trade show.
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The Happier, Saner, Richer Tax Firm

Scrambled thoughts enter man's head, straightened ones come outIt’s not easy, but it is possible.

By Frank Stitely
The Relentless CPA

I’m back. Since writing the “Relentless CPA – The New 21st Century System for Driving Success at Tax and Accounting Firms,” I have spoken to dozens of CPAs and accountants, been called a dozen names (some of them deserved), and received a few death threats.

MORE: ‘Quick Questions’ and Other Client Sins | How to Train Clients | How to Reduce Tax Return Errors | Why Your Firm Needs to Attract More Millenials | The Fool in the Room | The 3 Biggest Tech Failures of Accounting Firms | 7 Steps to Effective Project Management
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Actually, the death threats came from my wife, who said she’d kill me if I said “yes” to any new projects. She watches lots of crime shows, so the FBI regarded her threats as serious. I am writing this to buy a bulletproof vest for when she gets out of jail. Thank you for your contribution to saving my life.
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‘Quick Questions’ and Other Client Sins

Young businessman with forehead resting on handsHow to quietly convince them to pay for tax planning.

By Frank Stitely
The Relentless CPA

A well-known practice management expert, whom I greatly respect, advises CPAs to never tell clients that you don’t have time for them. I disagree with the never part. You know how it starts. On March 25th, the call comes in.

“I know you’re busy but …”

MORE: How to Train Clients | Avoiding Projects Hung Up in Process | Teaching the Meaning of ‘Done’ | Why Millennials Are the Answer | Calculating and Cutting Turnaround Time | Debunking the Demise of the CPA Firm
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A request follows that could most certainly wait until after tax season. You are hip deep reviewing all the personal tax returns that got stuck in process while you climbed out of the March 15th corporate tax ditch.
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How to Train Clients

Skip this, and both service and satisfaction decline.

By Frank Stitely
The Relentless CPA

You’ll hate me after this post. I’m about to reveal that many of the behaviors that you rationalize as good client service are really just desperate measures to avoid losing bad clients. We’ll talk about getting out of that mess later.

MORE: Avoiding Projects Hung Up in Process | When Clients Create Errors | How We Killed the Tax Season Client Meeting | Why Small Firms Can Win the Talent Wars | There Are No Easy Answers | How to Thrive as a 21st-Century Firm | Farm-Aid for Accountants? | Whittle Down WIP
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Clients are trainable – at least as trainable as Jack Russell Terriers. That is to say, they’re somewhat trainable. However, like Jack Russell Terriers, you train clients or they’ll train you. Somebody’s getting trained. Here’s an example of how that works.
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Avoiding Projects Hung Up in Process

Businessman with fingers crossed behind backHow to climb out of “done but” hell.

By Frank Stitely
The Relentless CPA

A project hung up in process is one when there is a disagreement as to the status between people involved in a project. For example, a client thinks he has answered your tax return questions, while you believe he has not. Another example is when a tax return preparer believes a return is ready for review while the reviewer does not believe it’s ready.

MORE: When Clients Create Errors | How to Reduce Tax Return Errors | Why Your Firm Needs to Attract More Millenials | The Fool in the Room | The 3 Biggest Tech Failures of Accounting Firms | WIP-ing Clients Into Shape | Maximize Your Role as Visionary
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The result of a hung-up project is a dead project – one that’s not moving to completion. If a tax return gets hung up, eventually your client calls you, and you get to waste time determining why the project stopped moving. By now, you know this increases WIP and thus decreases turnaround time.
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When Clients Create Errors

One cause? Taking us out of our familiar workflow.

By Frank Stitely
The Relentless CPA

Who makes the errors in your firm? Staff obviously, but that’s half of the answer. Clients are a major source of tax return errors. Clients cause errors in three ways:

  1. Errors of omission
  2. Errors of commission
  3. Errors in attitude

MORE: How to Reduce Tax Return Errors | Teaching the Meaning of ‘Done’ | Why Millennials Are the Answer | Calculating and Cutting Turnaround Time | Debunking the Demise of the CPA Firm | How Many Tax Preparers Do You Need? | How the Annual Tax Meeting Died | How to Teach Reviewing and Time Management | 4 Steps to Take Before Next Tax Season | 3 Tips for Handling Rookie Tax Preparers
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Every tax season, we finalize and deliver returns only to hear from the client, “I think I might have forgotten to tell you that we had a baby last year.” Does this happen to you? This is a client error of omission. Unintentionally, clients withhold important information.
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How to Reduce Tax Return Errors

Error stampedWe must turn unseen clients into human beings in the eyes of staff.

By Frank Stitely
The Relentless CPA

I wasn’t initially certain this post was necessary. I covered a lot of material in my first book and other posts.

MORE: Teaching the Meaning of ‘Done’ | How We Killed the Tax Season Client Meeting | Why Small Firms Can Win the Talent Wars | There Are No Easy Answers | How to Thrive as a 21st-Century Firm
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However, last night my sleep was haunted by the ghosts of tax return errors past, present and future. I saw my coffin rolling down the chute to the cremation chamber. I was inside shouting that I had one more checklist to complete before my life was done.
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Teaching the Meaning of ‘Done’

Angry boss in chair staring down at tiny businessmanNot to be confused with the dreaded “done but.”

By Frank Stitely
The Relentless CPA

In my last book, as with this one, I recommended hiring younger staff. In that book, I cautioned that you might have to teach very simple tasks like breathing and using the bathroom to your newbies. CPATrendlines.com posted an excerpt with my advice.

MORE: How We Killed the Tax Season Client Meeting | Why Your Firm Needs to Attract More Millenials | The Fool in the Room | The 3 Biggest Tech Failures of Accounting Firms | 7 Steps to Effective Project Management | WIP-ing Clients Into Shape | The Land Mines in Tax Returns | Give Your People the Resources They Need | The Right Way to Assign Staff Projects | Workflow for Dummies
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One reader posted that she didn’t believe it was the responsibility of an admin department to teach bathroom use. She was new to this hot new writing technique called sarcasm. She did a great job making my point that you have to teach your staff a lot of really basic things.
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