Salim Omar, best-selling author and owner of Straight Talk CPA, has a new book, Million Dollar CPA Firm. He’s stopped by the podcast to give a peek at some of the top secrets he’s learned in his 20 years as a Firm owner.
He’s systematized his firm to the extent that clients will come in during tax season and ask Salim, “Aren’t you supposed to be locked in your office doing returns?”
Salim smiles, as he’s built a firm around his lifestyle where he doesn’t need to work 24/7.
In this episode of Growing Your Firm Podcast, David Cristello and Salim Omar dive into:
- The 3 steps to being a successful and profitable Firm owner.
- Exact questions to ask your clients which lead to more engagement
- Asking yourself “Am I doing $10 tasks rather than $100 tasks?”
- Straight Talk CPA – Salim’s Firm
- CPA Marketing Genius – Salim’s Coaching Service for Firms
- Million Dollar CPA Firm – New Book
Building the Foundation:
Salim Omar, Founder of Straight Talk CPA and now author of Million Dollar CPA Firm, started off as a CFO in “corporate America.” There, he worked 80+ hours a week and making a good living.
What he realized was he valued his time freedom over his monetary freedom. He had read the benefits of being self-employed — he made the jump.
The honeymoon phase as a new Firm Owner didn’t last long before Salim was again working 80+ hours a week and NOT making as much as he did as a CFO. For awhile, he thought about going back to corporate America as the stress was lower and the pay higher.
DAVID’S TIP: You might think working 80 hours is being productive, but your clients can feel the tension and stress you carry and it will affect your relationships.
Fast forward 20 years, now he has a fully-optimized practice, 12 employees and growing, best-selling author and achieved his dream of a lifestyle practice in New Jersey.
Making the Switch to Become a Million Dollar CPA Firm:
Salim wrestled with how to optimize his firm. He turned to some of the best business minds out there:
- Michael Gerber
- Dan Kennedy
- Jay Abraham
He held all the pieces to the puzzle, they just won’t lock together correctly. For you, the first step to change is realizing you have a problem.
Then, you need to remind yourself: It doesn’t need to be this way. You can have a profitable, growing firm without slaving all week and weekend to get work out and be a good accountant.
Optimizing and running your firm like a well-oiled machine gives you the time freedom back. You can start by removing mundane, boring, low-cost admin costs.
“I can’t perform for my clients if I’m buried in paperwork.” – Salim Omar
Here are the steps he recommends…
3 Steps to Growth and Freedom:
Salim holds 3 core pillars to a successful million dollar CPA firm:
- Team Development — have a vision your team believes and coach them
- Bring in New Clients — nurture them to stay and refer
- Work only on High-End Billable and Technical Projects — pick top ROI pieces, delegate the rest
As the one who runs the Firm, these are what you should be laser-focused on day-in day-out. Many Partners will argue, “I just don’t have the time.”
You won’t have the time if you don’t delegate relentlessly.
$10 vs. $100:
The problem most Partners face is they dig their heels in when it comes to delegating. They spend wasted hours on admin tasks i.e. $10 tasks. As Salim pushes above, when you do your accounting work, focus on the high billable pieces.
You can charge more for your status and your expertise. You can’t expect higher incomes if you don’t work on high-end projects.
DAVID’S TIP: Audit your time for a week and see where are you getting bogged in “$10 activities”
Salim recommends writing down 5 things you are going to stop doing. You’ll be amazed at how much time is spent on low-level activities or, worse, non-billable work.
Keeping Your Best Clients:
Another pillar mentioned above is nurturing your client base. Salim isn’t a big fan of “meetups for dinner.” A few times a year, he will meet clients in his office to go over issues and solutions.
As your firm grows, it’s tempting to just let clients float without giving them much attention except at deadlines (to save capacity.) This is wrong.
Schedule 3x a week — Calls, meetings etc. with various clients. Give them a touch-point they’ll appreciate. What should you say in these meetings…?
Ask them questions!
- What are your challenges?
- Where are you looking to go?
- What’s holding you back?
If it’s a trouble client, you can figure it out with these questions. You need to be strict on who walks through your doors as a client. You can bring up issues you’ve had with problem clients with those specific questions. What Salim noticed was if he confronted a client about parting ways due to certain red flags, they would come back (somewhat) begging and saying they’d do better.
Great spot to be in!
Becoming a Track Team:
Team Development was the first pillar for Salim. Keeping great employees and weeding out the bad ones.
You must be a sporting team. One that works together and knows what the others are thinking/doing. You must “brand” your culture in a special way to keep employees interested.
“No one’s excited about sitting behind a desk and doing tax returns.”
Employees want to be engaged with and enjoy their time in the office. You must mold the culture so you attract the employees that are right fit for you.
The CEO’s job is to develop a set of core values and get the team to follow. Have core values the team responds to and defends. Your mission as a Firm will set the mood and level for the entire year. When you interview, you need to be matching the candidate with your current culture.
Think about: What are the skills your team is trying to develop in the next 3-6 months? When you have a team jazzed up to learn these skills, they become experts in the field.
Salim strongly believes that setting up the right system for these pillars will turn your firm into a growing, lifestyle powerhouse. Salim can help you even further. His new book, Million Dollar CPA Firm,is out online and you can grab your copy HERE.
Salim has had great success building his own Firm for over 20 years plus showing other Firms how to do the same. He can show you the stepping-stones to a million dollar CPA Firm.