Accounting Firm Growth: 5 Keys to Winning

Disruptive change in the Accounting industry has created a fine line between mediocrity and success and thus a dire need for change.

To evolve, Accountants must have a laser-guided focus on five key aspects of the Accounting business – Team Development, Revenue and Profit Growth, Client Relationship Building, Business Administration and Service Innovation.

Let’s place each one under the microscope and dissect the what’s, why’s and how’s.

Team Development

Accounting firms should be high-performance teams. This means having the right people in the right roles. To do this, first you must analyse and compare the core competencies your firm needs to current team members. You can then recruit new people to fill any competency gap.

Once your team’s in place, accountability is next on the agenda. You should use position descriptions to align individual goals to your business strategy. Establish KPIs to measure the effectiveness of your team.

Sustainable team development requires performance management, coaching and mentoring. Strategies to improve team performance and behaviour should be in place. Know that there is a difference between coaching and mentoring. Effective use of both will improve overall team performance.

Motivation is another key to improved team performance. Supercharge your firm’s performance with incentives. Having close working relationships should allow you to determine the types of incentives you can use to motivate them. Once these are established, set goals and metrics.

Establishing a learning development system to upskill your team is also fundamental. A more capable team can deliver the value-add services your firm needs to improve your bottomline. This will also increase your team retention and attract quality talent.

Revenue and Profit Growth

Crucial is sorting out your firm’s lock up once and for all. Lock up is your firm’s capital tied up in work in progress and receivables. Eliminating or significantly reducing it affords you to reclaim capital. Use this capital to focus on other vital aspects of your Accounting business like sales and marketing.

Take control of your workflow by implementing step-by-step processes. Streamlining workflow will accelerate your team’s turnaround. Increased efficiency increases capacity which increases profit and revenue.

Fix your receivables policies. Accountants are getting paid nearly four times slower than their terms of trade provide. Keep closer tabs on accounts receivables to make sure these are settled in a timely manner.

Accounting firms must price upfront to change the dynamic. Once you’ve agreed on the fee with your client, each team member will have an ‘hours budget’ and not a ‘monetary budget’. Initiate daily accountability to take focus away from chargeability onto relevant KPIs.

With this, Accountants can implement value pricing. Price the job upfront based on the value you create for your client. A value-based price reflects the value you provide to the client by applying your intellectual capital.

Client Relationship Building

To keep your clients happy, you must determine what your clients want. You do not want to see your clients go to your competitors. Understanding and managing client expectations is paramount for retention.

Gauge how you measure up to your clients as well as the competition. By implementing a client feedback process, you get first-hand knowledge of what your clients want from you.

Everyone on your team must deliver the highest quality service. Make your clients say “WOW!” Show them how efficient your team is by reducing turnaround. By all means provide them with all the services you can offer to help better their businesses.

Client complaints are normal. The key to reducing the number is what we’ve said above. If you deliver top-notch services with faster turnaround, you lessen the chances for complaints. Open communication channels are paramount in this.

Business Administration

Effective delegation of work is key here. You and your team must learn how to delegate and how to be delegated to. Implement a system of for job assignments to improve your firm’s overall efficiency.

Interruptions are common occurrences. Making sure you deal with them expeditiously should ensure continuous workflow. Again, you do this by establishing a workflow process that has countermeasures for such.

Technology improves efficiency. A multitude of software and equipment are readily available for your Accounting firm to use. If they save time and energy without sacrificing the quality of work, then go ahead and employ them.

Procrastination for accountants is a no-no. Establishing proper accountability leaves no room for dilly-dallying. If you align your team with your firm’s goals and values, you can ensure all KPIs are met in the allotted time period.

Free up two hours per accountant per day by hiring a client service coordinator. Take the responsibility of dealing with clients out of your accountants’ hands. Your accountants will get things done quicker and thus increasing capacity to do more work.

Service Innovation

Compliance is not dead. It has transformed into your lead generator. Get your marketing team to package compliance with value-add services to new and existing clients. This way you bump up margins from the top of the funnel.

Selling is not a dirty word. Find your niche market, own it and concentrate on those target sectors. When you’ve done this, clearly identify the ‘best buyers’ within your niche(s) and let your sales team do what they do best.

Fast track your Accounting firm’s transition towards business advisory services. You do this by upskilling your team with necessary skills to market, sell and deliver this to clients. Offering business advisory will serve as a solid platform for sustainable growth.

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