The Importance of Developing Process within our Virtual CFO Firm
A guest blog post by Jody Grunden, CPA
Co-Founder & CEO of Summit CPA Group
In The E-Myth Revisited, Michael E. Gerber tells the story of “A Match, a Mint, a Cup of Coffee, and a Newspaper” detailing his incredible experience at a hotel in Venetia, California. Although he happened upon the hotel accidentally, with no reservation, he was pleasantly surprised—and even inspired—by everything he experienced while he was there.
Customer Experience is Everything
The check-in process was a breeze. They even made a reservation for him at a nearby restaurant that night, also making dinner smooth and enjoyable. When he returned to his room, there was a fire crackling in the fireplace, the bed was turned down and there was a mint on his pillow. In the morning, he received his preferred newspaper as well as his preferred brand of coffee.
How did they know? The hotel staff had asked him about his preferences and listened to what he told them.
Michael was blown away by his experience and, as a result, has returned to that same hotel a number of times. Returning, he discovered that the preferences he had told them on his first visit were saved in the hotel’s Management System so that he receives the exact same spectacular experience every time.
This type of experience is rare but it’s the kind of thing that establishes impressive customer satisfaction as well as brand loyalty. Michael was so inspired by his experience that he wanted to learn more about how the hotel could pull it off.
Taking Checklists to the Next Level
He talked to the hotel manager and learned that it came down to an Operations Manual—“nothing but a series of checklists”—in a big blue binder. The hotel owner had developed systems—a series of checklists—for every part of the customer experience to ensure that everything was done according to a set of standards.
“The whole thing was put together in a way the owner believed would make a positive impression on our guests. You’d be amazed at how many people come up to me after staying here just to thank me for how well they were treated. But it’s not the big things they talk about; it’s always the little things.”
How Hospitality Inspires Us for Better Client Services
This story has been an inspiration to us at Summit CPA. We believe that developing process is crucial to the success of a growing business. We want every client to receive the same experience and know exactly what to expect from us. In order for us to deliver that type of service to our clients, we have developed processes—internal and external—to ensure consistent delivery that meets the expectations we have set.
For example, onboarding is a crucial part of our process. It helps us establish a great relationship with our client right out of the gate. We have a dedicated Onboarding Specialist who acts as the client’s main point of contact and ensures a smooth, positive experience. The key responsibilities of the Onboarding Specialist include:
- Setting the onboarding timeline and client expectations
- Gathering client information (passwords, tax returns, etc.)
- Doing the heavy lifting during onboarding
- Cleaning up the client’s accounting software
- Creating the forecasting model and KPIs
“Our Onboarding checklists provide a way for us to track and verify that crucial first steps, developed over time through positive experiences and lessons learned, are taken with every new client every time,” said Aimee Schroeder, Summit CPA’s Onboarding Specialist. “Our checklists simplify the onboarding process by providing an explicit playbook of minimum required steps. Because those steps are already determined, we have more mental and creative capacity to spend on our clients and their business.”
Onboarding is a six to eight-week process that begins right away. Our team works hard during onboarding to get familiar with the client’s existing methods. We look at their past books, we build a forecasting model and set of KPIs, and we review their financial statements/chart of accounts to make sure we're all on the same page and getting started on the right foot.
Gaining the Clarity We Needed
In addition to fantastic client experiences, developing process increases the efficiency of the team and enables us to deliver things in a timely manner. It’s important that the steps be outlined as clearly as possible so everyone knows where to find exactly what they need and can follow them without having to stop and ask questions. It reduces frustrations on both sides, removes bottlenecks and ensures that nothing slips through the cracks.
Jody and the team were happy to share their onboarding checklist with our readers. Check it out here!
At Summit CPA, we’ve found Jetpack Workflow to be a tremendous workflow software resource when it comes to documenting the process for the accounting teams within our Virtual CFO Firm. Jetpack Workflow is an accounting practice workflow management software built for accountants, CPA Firms, & Bookkeepers. We use it to document everything we do to, including video documentation. For us, Jetpack Workflow is our big blue binder that helps keep our accounting team members aligned and working seamlessly for our clients.
Summit CPA is a distributed accounting firm with a non-traditional approach to accounting. We have an amazing team of CPAs and accountants who provide professional Virtual CFO Services and 401(k) Audits for companies all over the United States—many of which are remote companies as well. We also recently launched a CPA Firm Augmentation service, coaching other CPA Firms on how to successfully provide Virtual CFO services. We fully understand the accounting, bookkeeping, cash flow management, and business tax nuances that come with being distributed, and we love helping our clients overcome these challenges through our own experience and expertise.