Are You Aiming for Growth… Just For the Sake of Growing?
Can you guess what the top ranking challenge for Australian Accounting firms in the 2013 edition of The Good Bad Ugly Report was?
Here’s a hint… It’s been the same challenge every year since 2009.
The number one challenge facing accounting firms in Australia is growth. Most firms associate “growth” with an increase in revenue. Very few firms think about growing their bottom line first before worrying about the growth in the top line.
From what we see when working with firms to help them improve their practice management and their practice development, many firms obsess over revenue growth and fail to work on their internal processes and efficiencies to allow them to handle the growth.
What happens when you’re not ready for growth
Your accounting firm is no different to any business that is looking to improve. Before you can focus your attention on the ‘top line’ and grow revenue, you need to be confident that your internal systems and processes can handle any additional capacity.
Focusing all your attention on marketing, promotion, giveaways and upselling to increase revenue means that you have no time to dedicate to working on the internal workings of the firm and as a result, as the growth happens, chaos starts to reign inside the business. Customer care and rapport suffer, the quality of your service drops, the team is unhappy, and soon customers will begin looking elsewhere. This is the vicious cycle of chasing growth for growth’s sake.
How do you know if your firm is ready for growth?
Here are some proactive questions you can ask of your accounting firm (when you are confident that the answer to each one is “definitely yes”, then you are in a really great place to start a serious growth programme):
– Do you set targets and then measure actual turnaround time or job completions?
– Have you defined your steps of completing compliance work so that you have a repeatable and consistent process? Are all your team members following the process each and every time?
– Do you focus on “when is this job going to be completed?” Rather than “why is this job not finished?”
– Do you have the right people doing the right work? Not every team member is going to be able to be involved in non-compliance work.
– Do you agree fees in advance with clients?
– Do you only start working on a file when all the information is available?
– Do you think of your compliance work as a manufacturing process and are seeking for ways to improve the efficiency of your ‘conveyor belt’?
– Do you have a consistent filing system for emails and documents that is easily searchable by the entire team?
Now we can grow
When you are confident that your internal habits, systems and processes are working and your accounting firm is more efficient, you will have one or both of these exciting results:
– Your bottom line profit will be increased with no loss of revenue. Well done, growth achieved!
– You have created more time for partners and senior staff.
And more time should be the holy grail for most accounting firms.
More time for conversations with your clients. More time for visits to your clients’ premises. More time to develop your staff. More time to focus on the future of your practice and plan its success rather than let it happen.
If you can create more time to spend listening to your clients and working with them on their business, you will never need to worry about growth again. You will have more work than you thought possible. You will have an endless supply of referrals. And you will have a happier business for you and your team.
If you make a concerted effort to focus on ‘creating more time’, you will solve the number one challenge for accountants. You’ll never have to worry about growth ever again.