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4 Decisions You Can Make to Improve Retention in 2017

Guest Author: Jeff Phillips, CEO at Accountingfly and GoingConcern

I recently had the opportunity to speak with a managing partner of a top 20 U.S. CPA firm, and I asked him about his firm’s biggest threats and opportunities.

“The problem,” he told me, “is that our good people are leaving, and there aren’t many good candidates to replace them with.”

Ouch. So what about you? Is attracting and keeping staff a concern at your firm?

Professional staff turnover is at its highest within the past decade (around 17%), and at the same time, CPA firm employment is expected to grow faster than average compared to all other industries. I imagine that you’re feeling the same pain as the managing partner I spoke with. So what is driving these retention issues? (more…)

Xcurated: Riveting Reads, Videos, and Podcasts for Your Ear-Balls

This is a blog series we will post to monthly recapping riveting reads and podcasts that advance your/our thinking on all things tech and business. Enjoy!

Riveting Reads

Shifting Tides: Global economic scenarios for 2015–2025 (Article)

This is a McKinsey article on the Global market trends we are seeing across the world today. Are we in for a bumpy ride? How bumpy? And for how long?

Demographic Imperatives (Blog)

Here’s a beautiful example of what an article can feel and read like on the modern web. But the content is good too! I pay attention to TrendWatching’s thoughts, even though it’s a bit off-target (it’s more B2C than B2B) for what we at Xcentric do. (more…)

Waxing and Waning Markets

Business guru and former General Electric CEO Jack Welch wisely advises, “Change before you have to.” Adapting proactively to shifts in the marketplace is one of the most effective ways to grow your practice.

Today’s markets are undergoing dramatic realignment. Understanding the powerful elements at work is essential to bending these forces to your advantage.

Disappearing act

For mid-market CPA firms, markets have traditionally been defined by local geography rather than by buyer group or industry. Until recently, that place-based view (“We are a mid-sized firm serving businesses in Phoenix”) has fundamentally shaped a firm’s vision and strategy. (more…)

Why a new website?

I have been at Xcentric roughly 7 years and this is our third new website during my tenure here. Most people, after telling them, look at me like I am nuts. What does this say about Xcentric? What does this say about me? I am not sure I can come to anything certain regarding the above questions, but what I sense being the case is being simultaneously confident in who we are and the value we provide but not being quite satisfied with how that is manifested for public consumption.

 A website as a publishing platform vs brochure-ware

Websites that serve as a substitute for brochures are no longer suitable in today’s web savvy, content consuming, social environment in which we now find ourselves.  You know that. I know that. Thus, I believe truly passionate companies can no longer get away with simply saying that they are so. Rather they must pour their knowledge out like an offering for client and prospect consumption and betterment. People who are passionate about a subject talk about it; what makes us think organizations are any different? I am not saying our company/brand is to mimic the annoying person at a dinner party going on and on about a nuanced subject attempting to one-up any potential hearer with their knowledge of Antartica’s ancient artifacts. Rather, we should be in the business of creating engaging conversations on behalf of others and their wellbeing. The proof of our passion (and competency) will be in the content we create, with the chief concern being that of our listeners, clients, and employees. (more…)

10 Marketing Technologies That Can Help Your Firm

Information technology has drastically improved the way firms produce work and service clients. Using today’s technologies can improve a CPA’s image. This article examines ten marketing technologies that every firm owner should be aware of, many of which are available for free!

1. Packaged websites. Websites are rapidly replacing door and building signage as the first outward exposure of your firm, as more and more prospective clients turn to the web to search for a CPA. Your website should reflect your firm expertise and culture and be easy to navigate and regularly updated. Ongoing maintenance can be a problem for small to medium-sized firms that don’t have dedicated marketing resources, so using a packaged website that allows customization for your logo, personnel and activities is an easy way to go. There are a number of providers listed at Websites4Accountants.com that will provide this service for under $1,500 a year. Firms need only customize the masthead/logo and firm personnel/niches to make them unique.

2. Niche pages. One of the quickest ways to market expertise is to set up specific sub-webpages on your site that tout your firm’s expertise. If your firm focuses on a specialty or industry niche, a secondary web page will demonstrate this expertise by showcasing articles, survey results, white papers or links to tools such as financial calculators. Such sites are picked up by search engines and allow you to send out marketing communications that link back to the specific niche page. (more…)

Leveraging Technology Tools- Client Interaction

Gaining Leverage: Where’s the best place to start?

In other words, “What is the lowest hanging fruit when attempting to gain organizational leverage?” I find that the 2 biggest areas for improvement are internal collaboration and client interaction.

Client Interaction

“No news is good news” is no longer the maxim of the day. When new business poured in you weren’t all that concerned with how often, well, and uniquely you communicated with your client base. But now, in 2011, the wind has largely been sucked out of the net-new revenue category and client retention is the top priority of most firms. Luckily, tools have matured over the last 3 years and are ready to be utilized by your firm. (more…)

Leveraging Technology Tools- Internal Collaboration

Leverage and accounting firms go hand in hand. This is a statement most partners intimately understand, as it’s their paychecks that are dramatically impacted, positively or negatively, by the firm getting the leverage equation right. While many of us grasp the staff leverage concept, we rarely understand how to properly leverage other aspects of our business effectively. That said, the chief tool in each of our offices is technology.

Here are two definitions to consider before we take a deeper dive:
Tool: the use of non-life to enhance life (spear, rock, pencil, computer, etc.)
Organizational Leverage: the streamlining of operations to increase effectiveness

These are very simple definitions that, if properly understood in the context of your firm, can make a world of difference not only with year-end earnings but also year-end enjoyment (the YEE’s if you will).

Gaining Leverage: Where’s the best place to start?

In other words, “What is the lowest hanging fruit when attempting to gain organizational leverage?” I find that the 2 biggest areas for improvement are internal collaboration and client interaction. (more…)

Are Your Young CPAs Practicing and Enhancing Their 30-Second Commercial?

Some of the most basic training for young CPAs beginning their personal marketing, branding and selling journey is the long time used “elevator speech.”  I like to call them 30-Second Commercials.

There has been a lot of debate in recent times as to the real value of this practice, but I think it is a great way for young CPAs to build their skills. Try hosting a series of Lunch & Learns inside your firm to have some fun and also help your people develop their personal commercials.

There is a great article on Jeffrey Gitomer’s site by Terri Sjodin talking about enhancing the standard elevator speech. I am going to begin incorporating it into my training and advice for young professionals. Sjodin advocates using the elevator speech concept as a strategy to manage multiple talking points and to communicate more complex ideas too. (more…)

Marketing Technologies to Help You Reach the Next Level

With information technology being my primary focus, there is no way I can claim to be an expert at marketing for accounting firms. However, during the normal course of consulting with firms, we allocate a portion of our interview time to explore how information technology decisions can impact that firms marketing efforts, learn what firms are actually doing and take a look at the tools they are using. While the majority of firms have difficulty tending to all the marketing opportunities and tools available, some have done very well in specific instances, which stand out as hallmarks from which other firms can learn and emulate. This article highlights a handful of marketing technologies and considerations that are working in accounting firms today and that can help you reach the next level.

1. FIRM WEBSITE
After the signage on your building, your firms website is the most obvious marketing symbol available to the masses because it is easily searched for on the Internet and is often the first impression that a potential client will have of your firm. The website is an extension of your brand and should reflect the level of professionalism that clients receive, as well as the culture of the firm. Developing your own content is time consuming and can be difficult for most accountants that do not regularly write, so there are service providers that can deliver regular monthly content, annual tax calendars, summaries of the new tax laws, financial calculators, and email alerts. For a listing of website designers that cater to the accounting profession, take a look at the review of website builders in this issue (link
) and visit Websites4Accountants.com. (more…)

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