Orin Wilson, CPA and CMA, joins us on the podcast to discuss severely cutting down his working hours during tax season. He claims he chopped his week from 100 hours/week to 40 hours/week.
That’s a massive claim, so David’s going to pry out his secrets.
In this episode of the Growing Your Firm Podcast, David Cristello and Orin Wilson discuss:
- 3 key pieces to focus on your accounting firm (and which one to start with)
- How he cut his hours from 100 per week to 40 with better tax season workflow
- The absolute best software he uses to complete all this (you might be shocked a little…)
- Truth, love, and order: Have these things and your work and personal relationships will never fail
- LINKEDIN – Orin Wilson
- One powerful law to double employee capacity (podcast)
- Are you making these 3 accounting workflow mistakes?
3 Key Pieces to Focus on in Your Accounting Firm
Orin Wilson, founder of Thought2Act and Partner at Jacobs & Company (CPA Firm), helps accountants and CPAs focus on developing the right systems. These systems are what allowed him to cut his tax season working hours from 100 all the way down to 40 (a regular week).
He takes an easy approach to uncovering the ideal system for each firm: “What is this particular firm encountering? Where can we make the issues better?”
As a result, it allows Orin to spend more time with family, on hobbies, activities and such. Not to mention, solid systems provide a nice foundation to any business, not just accounting firms.
Most firms have the ‘always catching up’ problem They wonder to themselves “how will I not drown this week?” This is due to not having the right systems. You shouldn’t be drowning each week.
Thus, each firm has three core components:
- Scaling component: How do we get more clients (sales and marketing)
- Technical review: How do we deliver high-quality work to our clients (actual accounting and tax)
- Operational: How do we know the ‘machine’ is running as efficiently as possible
It’s tempting to always be thinking about scaling and technical. Find new clients, do the work, the end. ‘Do it at all costs no matter how long’ is the unofficial mantra of most firms. The partners and owners wear so many hats, at times they are running around like chickens without their heads.
Those two pieces are not what you should be starting with, according to Orin. First, tackle operations.
Here’s how Orin tackles it. Beginning step: Evaluate. You’ve heard this before…map out your current processes and workflow. Think of it as an auto mechanic diagnosing a car. You must look at all the ‘car’ and hone in on where the problem is. Same with your operations. However, don’t think you can do this alone behind your desk in private.
Nope. Get out there and talk with your team. Meet with staff. Hear the issues. Find the inconsistencies. Ask non-threatening questions. Dig deep.
Next, after evaluating, you must identify and prioritize. During the discovery phase, you might find twenty different operation problems. Well, your first step is to arrange and prioritize what to tackle what is bullet #1.
For most firms, they run into the same workflow problems: Clients turn in work late, projects take too long, too many wasted hours chasing this and that.
When Orin untangled this web, that’s when he was really able to cut down all his hours.
How Orin Cut His Tax Season Hours From 100/week to 40/week
Workflow, workflow, workflow. That’s the thorn in every CPAs side. Yet, there’s a simple solution.
Start with a map. Everyone should have this map. On this map are defined roles and responsibilities. These roles and responsibilities should never be violated else the chaos.
Here are the normal roles in an average size firm or team:
- Preparation Roles
- Review Roles
Here’s how that breaks down in terms of responsibilities:
- Reception –> receives info from clients, handles all requests inbound and outbound, and collects and organizes the important information
- Administration –> they specialize in determining ‘who should each piece of info go to’. they are the air traffic controllers, if you will. When ready, they move pieces to prep roles.
- Preparation Roles –> the folks doing the actual accounting and tax work. That is all they should be doing and nothing else. No gathering and organizing data.
- Review Roles –> review of the prep roles work. No prep work in this role, only review. No admin work in this role, only review.
- After Review and completion, everything gets pushed back to Reception to send out to clients.
KEY: Push less valuable work up the chain, not down.
Defining these roles doesn’t have to be a fight or difficult. Segment each of the steps in a client’s project and see what makes sense. Specific roles for specific people. A big hang-up: Preparation Roles don’t know who to turn to for questions/comments.
DAVID’S TIP: Doing this segmnetation and defining each role, you can determine where your next hire needs to be. Compare that to simply guessing that you need more bookkeepers. You may find if you have a lower-paying admin, you’d open up capacity for the hiring priced bookkeepers to take on more work.
I can hear the chirps from here still.
“What if a client just sends in stuff late all the time?!?
Orin recommends the following: Add a note to their file. Every client should have a master directory with notes, answers to questions about the client, etc. This saves needless time-wasting searching for answers that were answered last year.
After the note, going forward, document ‘frequent concerns’ and know you must request more on the front-end. You don’t want to wait until a deadline to remember a client is slow. It’s a continual process. You can then sit down and discuss with your client.
The Absolute Best Software That Orin Uses:
We don’t plug much in these podcasts. We try and keep them full of content with zero commercials. However, Orin mentions multiple times how Jetpack Workflow saved weeks and months of his life. He shrunk 99 days of workflow into 30 days. That’s amazing.
If you don’t know, Jetpack Workflow is a workflow automation software. 12,600 accountants have started using Jetpack and that number continues to expand.
Truth, Love, Order — Needed for every work project and relationship you have:
Orin coined this phrase: “Truth, Love, Order” after studying for similarities between firms. He then realized these same three components make up a successful relationship.
He’s gone on to give talks on this subject alone.
He believes: If you feel your system is off somewhere in your firm (or your marriage), look at these three components and you’ll find what to fix.
Let’s go through them briefly.
- Truth: This is accurate data. You gather as much intel as possible in order to uncover good and bad about any issue. Accurate data is key here. Get it from multiple viewpoints.
- Love: Affinity for the system. This is directed at the firms. You must love the system for it to work. Moreover, you should be doing things that are good for you and the firm, but also your clients, the community, and beyond. Self-centeredness never wins
- Order: The operational strategies. We touched on this above and why you should start here.
Look at any problems you have and these three core areas can help fix them.
Until then, follow Orin at Thought2Act.com and start working less. Give yourself a break!