To improve upon our dental practice coaching capabilities and strengthen our niche offerings, the Dental Accounting Association will be headed to San Diego immediately after tax season. All members of the Dental Accounting Association will be in attendance sharing best practices and hearing first hand from dental industry experts on dental practice management, fraud prevention, dental practice benchmarking, profit improvement techniques and legal challenges for dental practice owners.
Immediately following the Dental CPA Summit on dental practice coaching, we will attend the American Association of Orthodontists Annual from April 22nd to April 25th meeting prospective orthodontists from North America. The trade show is expected to attract 15,000 orthodontists into the San Diego Convention Center. The Dental Accounting Association will have a booth that will be collaboratively staffed by members of the Dental Accounting Association (all independently owned CPAs).
The Dental Accounting Association is a collaborative group of CPA Firms that are focused on tax savings, practice benchmarking and profit improvement for dentists. Each member of the Dental Accounting Association provides fixed fees (no hourly billing) and works with the dental specialists such as:
Dental Practice Management Coaches
Dental Law Firms
Dental Transition Brokers
Dental Practice Real Estate
Dental Loan Providers
In fact, our keynote speaker for the Dental CPA Summit is Patrick Wood, founder of the largest dental law firm in the United States, Wood & Delgado. Patrick will be providing a Dental Legal Update so all Dental Accounting Association members understand the changing legal landscape for dental practice owners.
Outsourced Marketing for CPA Accountants
All members of the Dental Accounting Association are independent CPA Firms scattered throughout North America. Each member CPA Firm works with Build Your Firm (BYF) in the Outsourced Marketing Program. BYF has been providing Outsourced Marketing and Coaching for over twelve years and is the leader within the accounting industry for outsourced marketing and lead generation programs. This Dental CPA Summit is the second annual in-person meeting and is supplemented by regular educational webinars throughout the year.
To learn more about BYF’s Outsourced Marketing comprehensive system, visit our Outsourced Marketing video library. BYF’s Outsourced Marketing Program extends well beyond the dental and medical industry.
The international tax global alliance dates back to 2013 and consists of independent accountants and tax lawyers who are focused on international taxation as goods and services become more global in nature.
If you are searching for international taxation guidance, then this website is well worth investigating.
Just like there are all kinds of law firms and specialties, the same applies to the CPA Firms. There are generalists and then there are specialists who provide additional expertise to law firms. Below are examples of CPA Accounting Firms that focus on the legal industry and provide additional guidance to
Law Firm Accounting and IOLTA Compliance – Maryland CPA – Graber and Associates – Graber and Associates has operated since 1993. They have two offices locations to better service lawyers throughout Baltimore, Annapolis and greater Maryland.
Law Firm Accounting – New York City CPA – Mark Feinsot CPA services law firms throughout the Tri-State region of New York. They have two offices in New York City. Mark has been a CPA for over twenty years.
Law Firm Accounting – Chicago – 1st Chicago Accounting services law firms throughout Chicago. They have three office locations to conveniently service busy law firms.
More examples of law firm accounting websites designed by Build Your Firm.
Restaurant businesses constantly juggle staff turnover, inventory management, and operating costs in order to stay profitable and ahead of the competitive pack. In fact, today’s competition is not only the newest restaurant in town but it often means competing against food trucks and food delivery (Uber, Amazon, and Google).
To help restaurants make better decisions, minimize taxes and avoid compliance issues, the savvy restaurateurs align themselves with CPA Firms that specialize in the food and beverage industry rather than the closest CPA Firm nearby. With today’s technology, specialized advice trumps location when it comes choosing the right CPA Firm for your business.
1. CPA Accounting for Restaurants – Florida Panhandle – Pensacola – Turner CPA works with all formats within the food and beverage industry. Tallahassee to Pensacola and Alabama as well.
2. CPA Accounting for Restaurants – Indianapolis – Garrison Sims CPA works with independently owned restaurants, franchises, catering, bars and brew pubs throughout Indiana.
3. CPA Accounting for Restaurants in Long Island NY – James Castaldo CPA & Associates works with restaurants, bars, brew pubs and hotels across Long Island. They understand the need to limit costs, minimize compliance issues, and financial reporting requirements to help your business operate more competitively.
4. Hospitality Accounting in Georgia – Roe CPA works with hotels, golf clubs, restaurants and bars throughout Georgia and understands the needs and demands for various hospitality formats. In some cases, a focus on internal controls is key and others need to focus on operating costs.
5. Restaurant Accounting in Northern California – Chahal & Associates works with franchise restaurants, family owned restaurants, hotels and bars across the Bay area.
6. Restaurant Accounting in Houston TX – Mike C Manoloff PC is a leading CPA Firm for restaurants, bars and nightclubs in Houston providing restaurant accounting, tax and payroll services.
7. Hospitality Accounting for Restaurants, Bars and Hotels in Atlanta GA – Delerme CPA works with all types of restaurants, lodging and night clubs throughout Atlanta.
More custom design examples of restaurant accounting websites.
However, accounting for the oil and gas sector requires additional expertise and decades of experience. That’s why many energy businesses in Texas reach out to McKinnon Patten CPA. McKinnon Patten has been helping oil and gas clients for over fourty years, which very few CPA Firms can say.
To be a long term player in the oil patch, you need to balance risk and uncertainty. That’s why experience in a dynamically changing marketplace is imperative. The original founder of McKinnon Patten CPA was a roustabout in West Texas oil fields and later served as a senior executive in Sun Oil Company. The oil patch permeates all aspects of the CPAs at McKinnon Patten.
If you are searching for additional guidance from your CPA Firm and would like additional connections to open doors, contact Mark at 214-696-1922.
While most CPA Accounting Firms tend to avoid churches and non-profit organizations, there are benefits to developing this area of expertise. First, there is less competition in your immediate area so your marketing area becomes broader geographically. Second, the depth of services that you provide become more advanced after you acquire enough. And third, you start to generate more referrals.
CPA for Churches and Ministries – Florida – Sizemore & Associates provides accounting and outsourced controllership for churches, parochial schools and faith-based colleges throughout Florida and Georgia.
CPA Accounting for Churches and Ministry – Michigan – Strategic Accounting and Tax Solutions provides church accounting and outsourced controllership for churches, non-profit schools and faith-based organizations.
More examples of Church Accounting websites designed by Build Your Firm.
Over the past couple of years, the real estate sector has become one of the best sectors for accountants. That’s right, the availability of inventory coupled with low interest rates has helped has resulted in steady grow.
By real estate, we are referring to property management and leveraging the tax benefits for owner operators. In other words, commercial property to apartment complexes to upscale student housing to developers.
Below are a small sampling of accounting firms providing additional expertise for property management and the broader real estate industry.
There is perhaps nothing more unpleasant than firing someone, yet you can’t make a business case for keeping an employee on board if that person isn’t doing his or her job. At the end of the day, the company – and most likely the employee – will be better off if he or she is someplace else.
We’re all conditioned to this scenario in the workplace and most of us have had many years of experience reacting to someone being fired. Why is it so hard, then, when you have to fire a client?
Severing the relationship between you and your client is even more difficult when you like the client. Nine times out of 10, unless your client commits a crime, there’s really no reason why you should fire a client, right?
Wrong. Once you look at what a problem-client is costing you in terms of money and resources, not to mention stress and angst, there are probably more reasons for letting a client go than there are for keeping that client. Nevertheless, some thought must be given to the “why” and “how.”
Three Primary Reasons to Fire a Client
There may be more than just three reasons to sever the provider/client relationship, but through my years of work with accountants, it boils down to percentages, unethical behavior and lack of interest.
- The client takes up too much non-billable time. By far, this is the number one reason to let a client walk. Most of us have heard of the 80/20 rule in which we spend 80% of our time on the bottom 20% of our client base. To put it another way, the time you’re spending with a client often monopolizes your non-billable time. Sure, you could make it clear that you are going to bill the client for each and every phone conversation, e-mail exchange, text (yes, even texting) and other interactions, but that isn’t really realistic. These kinds of clients aren’t adding to your bottom line, and without fail, you will come to resent the time the client is taking up. In a profession where it’s sometimes hard to measure a return on investment, you definitely can determine if the time you spend with a client isn’t adding to your bottom line. As a result, it’s far better to get rid of the bottom 20% of your clients so you can focus on the remaining clients who will generate more revenue – and bring you more referrals.
- The client withholds information or wants you to do something unethical. If you find your client is not being honest with you about a particular situation or withholding valuable information that enables you to do your work in the most ethical, legal manner possible, it’s time to part ways. Asking for a questionable deduction on a tax return is one thing, but hiding assets without your knowledge, for example, is another matter. You cannot afford to damage your reputation when a client who has the potential to do harm to himself, and in turn, to your practice.
- The client does not want to be helped. As odd as this might sound, we’ve all had clients who did not want to be helped. The client did not want your professional counsel and expert assistance, and will neither accept your advice nor respect your intentions. It’s time to find clients who will benefit from your professional experience and knowledge. You’ll feel much better about your business acumen, not to mention the inherently altruistic factor of helping someone solve a problem.
Giving the Pink Slip
While that is an extreme example, it’s also illustrative of today’s always-on culture where text and e-mail are the de facto methods of communication. Don’t let this happen to you; as unpleasant as it may seem, it’s far better to have a conversation than it is to send someone a note. Yes, sometimes for legal reasons you have to send a letter instead of talking to the client. That’s fine, but unless you are legally prevented from talking with the person, send the letter after you have had the initial conversation.
Looking at the three primary reasons above, it’s easy to see why you would want to fire a client, but one of the main traits we have as human beings is we tend to like each other. For example, you may have a client who will literally give you the shirt off his back if you ask him for it, but you need to separate your personal feelings from your professional beliefs. After all, you may see the client in social situations at Rotary, the Lion’s Club or some other venue. What are you going to say to the fired client the next time you see each other?
The best way to move on is to have a professional conversation with the client and explain the reasons why. Just as you owe it to a fired employee to provide concrete examples of how he or she wasn’t doing the job up to standards, you must do the same with a fired client. Explain in plain terms what the problem is, and once you have the conversation, follow it up with a letter, not an e-mail.
Unless there is a sudden ethical problem, the actual “firing” shouldn’t be a surprise – and it may even be a relief. Whatever the outcome is, it’s not going to be entirely pleasant, so the client’s initial reaction may be anger. Reassure him or her that this is a completely private matter between the two of you and should remain so. You will not talk to anyone about this and you would appreciate it if the client would do the same.
Impact of Social Media
You don’t want your conversation to be on Jerry Springer or making the headlines of the local paper, yet you have to protect your reputation, so be wary of the power of social media! Today, a negative blog or Twitter posting can go viral in a matter of moments; you will want to ensure you do not suffer any potential negative consequences.
This wouldn’t happen to you … your “fired” client would never do this … well, wake up! No one can predict human behavior. While the client may seem well-adjusted when he or she leaves your office, it could be only minutes before something is posted that you cannot undo. You have to be realistic and cautious.
When your now-fired client says something negative on Yelp or Google reviews, you may have to get an attorney involved. However, watch your temper. It would be unprofessional of you to lash back and post a response or something you’ll be sorry you said. Take the high road; the best stance is to do nothing. It’s better to let the client stumble over his or her words than to react to them.
If it turns out that your colleagues and even your other clients are aware of the social media problem, it is time to communicate via letter or e-mail to them to allay their concerns. Don’t reveal any information that can be used against you later on; an attorney can guide you through this difficult situation.
Your Practice is Changing – What Happens to Your Clients?
For various reasons, an accounting practice does change over time. You may find you want to devote your expertise to other kinds of specialty services or a niche industry rather than being a generalist. If this is the case, maybe you should consider selling a portion of your practice rather than severing the relationship. This enables you to offload the less desirable service to another accounting firm, and cash out.
Your practice may change for other reasons, too. For example, some accounting services generate a lower hourly fee realization. Rather than continuing to accept this, you may make the business decision to depart lower-margin types of services such as payroll and traditional write-up for something more lucrative.
If this happens, you may want to “package” up these clients and sell them to another practitioner or even selling them through a broker. Of course, people are not commodities, but this is business, after all. By selling them to another practitioner, the client still gets service and attention, and you can focus (or refocus) your practice on what you do best – and avoid firing the client!
Keep Calm and Carry On
We may have tax law and regulations that standardize the accounting profession, but practice management and human resource issues definitely are not cookie cutter. There is no manual or Dummies’ guide that gives you all the answers.
As the British government imparted just before World War II, the best advice is to “Keep Calm and Carry on.” Don’t do anything rash. Think about what you want to do with a client before you take action. You can’t get the client back once you’ve let him or her go, so be rational and sensible, but also be honest with yourself about the way you want to grow.
Fire a client for the right reasons. In the long run, you’ll feel better about yourself and your business will prosper.
The sales process can be arduous when you have a steady flow of leads coming into your office and plenty of existing work sitting on your desk. Between the appointments that stand you up and unproductive consultations, many accountants get discouraged with the process and wonder how to perfect it.
Conceptually, the sales process is an upside down funnel (a.k.a. inverted pyramid) that has several layers which your prospects must go through. In other words, you start with a wide base of leads and the prospects work way down the funnel to a tiny spout at the bottom when you close clients and bring them into your practice.
Much to my surprise, most small accounting firms struggle with separating the wheat from the chaff (e.g., qualifying leads), how long it takes close prospects, and then wonder why diamonds are not dropping thru the spout of the funnel.
Breaking your sales process into individual steps makes it much easier for non-sales professionals to appreciate how the process (or dance) works. Below is an illustration of twelve steps that you can take to capture more diamonds.
Step 1 – Define your target audience into monthly buckets – Rather than target businesses based on proximity to your office location, target businesses by industry sector (e.g., restaurants, lawyers, manufacturing, wineries, etc.).
Step 2 – Build your “field of dream” – To establish yourself as a subject matter expert, develop a niche website which establishes your firm as having an expertise within an industry. Build a compelling story to address their pain points. To overcome their skepticism, acquire certifications and/or become a member of an association which gives them the confidence to hire your firm over their current “generalist” accountant. In other words, the niche website should become the needle in the haystack they are searching for…
Step 3 – Craft a targeted message – Develop a direct mail letter that speaks to your target audience. You want a letter that is compelling and identifies with the problem that keeps the prospect up at night and how your service helps to solve this problem. The most effective message will have emotion and passion wrapped into the letter, not industry jargon.
Step 4 – Send a follow up message – Develop another letter that builds upon your first letter. If need be, break the target audience into sub-targets (e.g., break general construction into HVAC, electricians, painters, roofers/siders, etc.). Craft a letter targeting this specific subsegment (e.g., HVAC/plumbers), not to the general construction industry. Hit this audience 3-5 times within a six month period.
Step 5 – Qualify ALL leads generated – As the leads come into your office, ALL leads must be pre-qualified by answering a series of questions before you agree to a meeting. Start the selling process on the phone before meeting in person.
Step 6 – Add ALL prospects to your LinkedIn profile – Add each new lead to your LinkedIn profile.
Step 7 – Add ALL leads to your email newsletter list – All existing clients and prospects should be getting your email newsletter. This will add value to your relationship and educate them on the breath and depth of your services and keep your firm top of mind. Even if they don’t come on board after your initial consultation, keep them on the list. They may come on board many months later or refer someone to you.
Step 7 – Keep a running list of all leads generated and status on a spreadsheet – Every lead that comes into your office should be recorded onto one spreadsheet with the source of the lead, date, contact info, service requested, quote, and next steps.
Step 8 – Send follow-up letters to promising leads from 1-3 months ago – For those consultations that are pending and getting cold, it’s time to warm them up and send them a letter that keeps them luke warm. Customize it around their situation and why they should get started now.
Step 9 – Call the luke warm prospects again – Make a follow-up phone call to your prospects that are still on the fence (e.g., prospects you met 2-6 months ago). Try to identify why they haven’t taken a step forward and address their fear. Try to make the move risk free for them and address their inertia. Get them to take a baby step forward.
Step 10 – Invite the old prospects to meet you for coffee – Send an email and invite the fence sitters from 6-12 months ago to coffee. Create a compelling reason to get together and mention that you have something to share with them (e.g., free book or special report) that is relevant to their business and can help them improve the quality of their life. Soften up the approach and use the meeting as a vehicle to discuss their business in this economy. Operate like a business coach trying to help them oversee their business, not an accountant.
Step 11 – Send invitations to clients and prospects for upcoming events – Create a prospect event that is informational in nature. For some events, you can be the presenter and others can be done by outside professionals. The more you make the event specific to their industry, the better off you will be in getting them to attend.
My point is that the selling process is ongoing because some prospects take 1-3 years to close while others are instantaneous. Yes, the courting process takes ongoing effort to remain top of mind and overcome their inertia. The challenge is to recognize that the process is not transactional, it’s evolutionary and takes a series of steps to capture more than your fair share of new business.
Yes, I fully understand that marketing is not your forte and most accountants hate marketing. However, marketing is the heart of every successful business. And if you do it well, your business will grow easily each and every year despite the overall economy. Quite frankly, marketing enables you to continuously improve the “quality” of your practice and grow at the pace you desire.
Marketing is the responsibility of each business owner, regardless of the industry. And when done well, shrewd business owners turn their employees into marketing evangelists, to spread the word and generate word-of-mouth advertising and referrals.
To give you a classic example of grass roots marketing, think about Harley Davidson in the early 1980’s and the phenomenal turnaround they accomplished against competitors like Kawasaki, Honda, and Yamaha who were underpricing Harley and providing higher quality motorcycles. While Harley made enormous investments to improve their manufacturing operations and product quality, they were facing the fight of their lifetime to stay in business. Their advertising budget was zero from 1984 to 1996. However, they created a groundswell of support by creating the Harley Owners Group (HOG) and creating a sense of community. Using newsletters and club magazines, they managed to grow from one HOG chapter in 1983 to over 1,300 chapters around the world (over 750,000 members).
Keep in mind, I don’t ride a motorcycle but this is truly a classic example of using grass roots marketing to help a company turn around their business.
To improve the quality of your accounting practice, embrace marketing holistically and turn your employees into evangelists. Marketing is what YOUR business is all about!