Granting Unconventional Request Pays Off

Car driving on road on pillars through Swiss mountainsProof that systems work.

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

One time, one of my young and very bright staff people asked me in the beginning of June if he could take off the months of July and August so he could travel by car throughout the United States. After asking him to repeat this three times, I gulped and told him he could.

MORE: Why Annual Staff Evaluations Fall Short | 10 Ways to Stay in Control | Advice to New Accountants | Clients Don’t Lose Sleep for Overpaying Taxes | When Time-Based Pricing Works | How Auditing Is Like a Pirouette | ¿Que Es Bookkeeping? | Testifying Before Congress
GoProCPA.comExclusively for PRO Members. Log in here or upgrade to PRO today.

I figured that if I did not tell him he could, he would simply give notice and quit. I also figured that if he returned in September and applied for a job, I would rehire him. I also realized that we have women taking off at least two months at a time to have babies and nothing terrible happens. The world (as defined by my small accounting firm) survives and moves forward.
READ MORE →

The Wrong Way to Look for Staff

Classified ad for an accountantConsider why the person is leaving.

By Ed Mendlowitz
The CPA Trendlines Practice Doctor

QUESTION: Please explain why you told me this ad was off base.

MORE: How to Get the Most from CPE | How Improv Can Help Accountants | Four Tips for New Partners | An Alternative to Pro Bono | 14 Better Uses for Timesheet Data | 9 Must-Haves for Firm Growth | 5 Ways to Build Teamwork
GoProCPA.comExclusively for PRO Members. Log in here or upgrade to PRO today.

ANSWER: The ad was placed in a local newspaper by a small CPA firm looking to hire someone with two years of experience. This firm obviously does quality work since they do audits.
READ MORE →

What My Boss Did All Day

older man and younger man in meetingSome things never change … and shouldn’t.

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

On an early job I had – in a time long, long ago with no computers, smartphones, copiers or electronic adding machines – I used to go to a client in the morning, write up their books, prepare a financial statement, drop it off at the office at end of the day and then go home.

MORE: Why Annual Staff Evaluations Fall Short | 10 Ways to Stay in Control | Advice to New Accountants | Clients Don’t Lose Sleep for Overpaying Taxes | When Time-Based Pricing Works | How Auditing Is Like a Pirouette | ¿Que Es Bookkeeping? | Testifying Before Congress | Underpaying Others Hurts You, Too
GoProCPA.comExclusively for PRO Members. Log in here or upgrade to PRO today.

The secretary typed the report in the morning. I often wondered what my boss Mr. Ruben did, and whether there have been any changes in that in the half-century since I started.
READ MORE →

Why Annual Staff Evaluations Fall Short

Two businesswomen meeting in an officeThe same information is available in better ways.

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

I have never felt annual staff evaluations are effective.

They are forced meetings that lay on complaints and blame for past failures, many of which are not remembered or are vague memories at best. I have rarely seen resulting changes last more than two or three weeks before old habits are reverted to.

MORE: 10 Ways to Stay in Control | 20 Best Practices for Staff Training and Retention | What Does the Client Want to See? | 6 Ways to Increase Your Fees … If You Dare | The Clients that Got Away | Upselling Made Painless | Boosting a Fixed Fee Substantially
GoProCPA.comExclusively for PRO Members. Log in here or upgrade to PRO today.

I think these annual meetings are a waste of time. Instead, I have been very successful with immediate and periodic evaluations, coupled with regular mentoring meetings.
READ MORE →

How to Get the Most from CPE

Young businessman sleeping on the keyboard in the officeYour mindset makes a difference.

By Ed Mendlowitz
The CPA Trendlines Practice Doctor

QUESTION: Like every CPA I need to take continuing education courses. However most of what I take

  • are not relevant to me,
  • are things I know or
  • are things I don’t really want to know.

MORE: How Improv Can Help Accountants | Strategic Planning for the Small Firm | Before You Sell Your Practice | Work the Client Needs … But Won’t Pay For | 14 Better Uses for Timesheet Data | 9 Must-Haves for Firm Growth | 5 Ways to Build Teamwork
GoProCPA.comExclusively for PRO Members. Log in here or upgrade to PRO today.

Also, many of the speakers are boring. Yet, CPE is big business. Are there any suggestions you can give me to get better use of that time?
READ MORE →

10 Ways to Stay in Control

Number 10Respect your staff … and vice versa.

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

A new year has just begun. Start it by getting and staying in control.

MORE: 20 Best Practices for Staff Training and Retention | Why Create an Accounting Firm Business Model? | The Clients Who Keep You Awake at Night | Creating a Cross-Selling Culture | Cross-Selling Beyond Your Comfort Zone | Value Pricing in Uncharted Waters | I Am an Accountant Because of Clients like Stanley | Advising Cheapskates
GoProCPA.comExclusively for PRO Members. Log in here or upgrade to PRO today.

Here are some ways to do this.
READ MORE →

How Improv Can Help Accountants

Businessman looking up answers in a bookTwo must-read books on communication and networking.

By Ed Mendlowitz
The CPA Trendlines Practice Doctor

QUESTION: I am a very good accountant but have problems when I speak with people I meet whom I do not know. Do you have tips for me?

MORE: Strategic Planning for the Small Firm | Does Your Staff Know All the Services You Provide? | Price Your Practice by Gross | Advising Estate Executors: The Newbie Guide to Getting Started | How’s Your Overhead? | Envision Your Future, Then Plan for It

GoProCPA.comExclusively for PRO Members. Log in here or upgrade to PRO today.

ANSWER: There are many ways to break the ice when you meet new people that I could share with you, but I read a book about that so will recommend it to you and will now provide a brief summary of the book.
READ MORE →

20 Best Practices for Staff Training and Retention

Number 20 with target and arrows in center of zeroAre they employees or team members?

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

Colleagues complain that it is hard to train staff because they do not listen, and even if they were trained properly, they would then leave, preventing recoupment of the training costs.

MORE: Why Create an Accounting Firm Business Model? | Advice to New Accountants | Clients Don’t Lose Sleep for Overpaying Taxes | When Time-Based Pricing Works | How Auditing Is Like a Pirouette | ¿Que Es Bookkeeping?
GoProCPA.comExclusively for PRO Members. Log in here or upgrade to PRO today.

I hear what they are saying but do not agree with either premise. Training is essential and must be committed to by the partners and owners and become part of the firm’s culture.
READ MORE →

Strategic Planning for the Small Firm

Dial with arrow pointing to word "strategy"Plus actionable tips for each area.

By Ed Mendlowitz
The CPA Trendlines Practice Doctor

QUESTION: Do you recommend strategic planning for a small accounting practice?

MORE: Does Your Staff Know All the Services You Provide? | Four Tips for New Partners | An Alternative to Pro Bono | 14 Better Uses for Timesheet Data | 9 Must-Haves for Firm Growth
GoProCPA.comExclusively for PRO Members. Log in here or upgrade to PRO today.

ANSWER: I recommend it for everyone. It is important for larger firms to make sure the partners are on the same page.
READ MORE →