February 3, 2011

10 Ways to Recruit & Retain Valuable Employees

Does your firm have a consistent hiring message and formalized training program for new hires?

Many CPA firms hire for skills and pay scant attention to how an individual will fit with the firm. We often hire an individual and then think that we can change the firm to meet their needs rather than insisting that the individual adjust their behavior and actions to the needs of the firm. I have seen firms with more than ten owners add one individual who completely upset and divided the firm. As the old saying goes “one bad apple”… you know the results. Stay tuned for our next post on Hiring Right, or Right now?

In the meantime, right now, RETENTION is paramount. Retention starts with attracting the right people, and finishes with treating them well.

Here are 10 tips to help YOUR firm achieve your hiring and retention goals.
  1. Increase focus and efforts. Make recruiting a year-round focus, engaging both partners and employees in the process.
  2. Build an employee referral network. Use it to find employees and offer your expertise to other accountants while spreading the word about the profession through speaking and writing engagements. Focus on reciprocity--make referrals for other firms and don't burn bridges.
  3. Differentiate your firm. Build firm unity through consistent messages and a clear focus on external and internal service strategies--become an employer of choice in your market.
  4. Work on the "good" clients. Evaluate your clients--employees want to do valuable work and be associated with successful clients.
  5. Create a culture of success. It is not about work/life balance, but about work/life success. Find a way to make your employees feel more successful.
  6. Turn good intentions into performance. Consistent communication that results in mutual benefits for everyone will create a culture of trust within a firm.
  7. Define success for every member of the firm. Ensure that everyone understands where the firm is going and how they fit into the plans.
  8. Set up a reverse mentoring program. Take the initiative as a leader to get feedback from those you supervise.
  9. Reduce internal competition for resources. Create a system of governance to efficiently schedule and manage your people, and ultimately, better serve clients.
  10. Eliminate negative talk. Move past the limiting negative attitudes by using a positive approach to solve the profession's staffing issues.

January 18, 2011

Profit Point #3 - Stop extending excessive credit.

Your great clients don’t need it, while your not so great clients will readily take advantage of the credit, often leading to slow payment or no payment.

Remember for every dollar of accounts receivable written off, it takes three dollars of additional revenue to recoup your loss.

Instead of offering all of your clients credit, use scheduled payments for larger jobs (i.e. 30% each for three payments with the 10% final payment upon delivery of the financial statements) and offer budget payment plans to clients ("as a benefit to our clients we are now offering a budget payment plan").

Start the payments in the off season and offer a discount for participation (3%-5%). Of course these plans have to have the covenant that the budget plan is based upon the prior year’s fees and additional work required will be billed separately.

These steps will speed up cash flow and result in lower capital requirements for your partners while at the same time improving profitability.
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