Director of Operations at 2020 Group (Now Business Development at Receipt Bank) works with firms in mastering workflow for accountants.
2020 Group was a leader in putting up fresh content and was one of the largest membership organizations for small-to-medium sized businesses.
**NOTE: After the recording of this interview, 2020 Group was acquired by Panalitix. See details here.
In this episode of the Growing Your Firm Podcast, David Cristello and Damien Greathead dive into:
+ The biggest mistakes Firms make when mastering workflow for accountants
+ How to mind map and sketch out an ideal workflow
+ How Firms can gain a competitive advantage by defining workflow in “forgotten” or overlooked areas of their practice
and so much more.
- LINKEDIN – Damien Greathead
- The million dollar opportunity missing from your CPA firm
- The #1 way to grow your practice
- How to create the perfect accounting firm
Part 1: Background and Thinking Through Your Workflow
Part 2: Defining & Mastering Workflow for Accountants & Firm Owners
MASTERING WORKFLOW FOR ACCOUNTANTS:
Damien Greathead (now Business Development at Receipt Bank) worked with 2020 group for over 7 years. There he built quite a reputation around helping firms with mastering workflow for accountants and CPAs.
A major issue accounting firms run into, Damien believes, is they don't look for workflow "gains." Meaning, they don't uncover spots where everyone will see incremental gains quickly. Instead, they focus on the minutiae.
Damien recommends to start...look at something easy where you can see big gains right away. This is motivating and a shift in the mindset of the employees. What you may not know, as a firm owner --- your team members struggle to keep up (even the most experienced accountants on your staff).
Every partner wants a tax return done a different way. 'Some want the changes in blue pen, others red...'This madness needs to stop!
Here's how to approach bettering your workflow:
First, talk to those who live in the 'weeds' of projects each day. Don't discuss with the partners who only see the final steps. Your administrative staff have golden nuggets to share with you to improve. Get their ideas, they'll appreciate it.
Next, look at the 10,000 foot 'Mindmap' view of everything. Only after doing this do you work down to the 5,000 foot...2,000 foot...10 feet details.
It's easy once you get into the 'finer details' for the stress and feeling of overwhelm to creep in. That's okay. All you need to do is break it down further.
Ask yourself: What is the impact of this particular process?
Stop, listen to all the thoughts. You'll hear affirmation of workflow issues when you multiple answers start popping up.
"Where do we lose alot of time?" What core parts sit parked for longer than they should?
Look, for small firms...you live in the day-to-day. You want to just get to the end of the day and not have work fall through the cracks. That's why, a few weeks in the summer (downtime), you need all hands on deck to knock this out. If not, you fall into the many 'workflow blunder' traps.
THE BIGGEST MISTAKE FIRMS MAKE WHEN MASTERING WORKFLOW FOR ACCOUNTANTS:
Over and over, Damien sees CPA firms fall into workflow snares. The worst?
Same As Last Year. Partners yell out from their desks: "What did we do that last year? Do that!" Then, what happens?
As the projects/clients get more complicated, all that happens is more steps get added to the process. Soon that one-page checklist turns into four pages.
Answer: Look at what's outdated and what needs to be optimized.
This is where technology is your best friend. Yes, many folks may draw battle lines resisting new technology...but they can't do this forever. Technology is changing the accounting industry.
Implementing these steps gives you more time for increasing services for your client. This is the cornerstone of growth...finding what your customer needs and giving it to them. The way to do that...mastering your workflow for accountants.
THE POWER OF MEETING WITH YOUR CLIENTS QUARTERLY:
Every quarter you should sit down with each client at least once.
DAVID'S TIP: Only have one topic per meeting. It hones the conversations in and allows the client to follow the topics and action plan much easier. If the client only has to focus on one topic, they feel more confident talking with you. The more they're confident, the more they open up to you. How to do this? Drip discussion points leading up to your meeting so they feel
The more times you sit down with your clients, the more you identify ways to help. Clients quietly beg for you to help them beyond taxes. They want you to tell them: "Hey, I see some cashflow issues, profit drops...etc."
With that, you have topics to sit down with them and work to address. This means more revenue per client.
HOW TO SAVE TIME:
For growing firms, their biggest issues with meeting clients --- 'we don't have time.' When you master your workflow, this time opens up. Start with saving a mere 60 minutes per employee a day.
Is there something you can crowdsource? Are there tasks your administrative team can double up on and speed up the pipeline?
You might need to incentivize your team in some way. Team members will resist change (trust me). Others will embrace change with enthusiasm. Those that don't accept change you might have to let go, Damien recommends.
Once you master your workflow, many windows open up.