Category Archives: Accounting workflow

Fight Price Pressure with Differentiation

Last week I upset a bunch of people, without real jobs, in my post about practice management consultants. Let’s go for two weeks in a row. Ignore the practice management “experts,” who tell you that you just need to bill what you’re worth to get the price you deserve. Here’s how you know that’s total…
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Lies, Damned Lies, and Consultants

About a decade ago, a new disease infected the accounting and CPA business – the practice management consultant. These geniuses, who have never or only briefly worked in the profession, sell anxious owners on the idea that there’s a magic answer to make the business easier. If only you listen to and pay them, you’ll…
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Avoid Next Year’s Tax Season Staffing Disaster

Have you recovered from your after tax season depression? My ex-wife told me that life moved on without me during tax season. What that really meant was that she felt justified in buying new cars and jewelry while I was away. If you noticed a few new items in your house after tax season, you…
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Why Aren’t You Delegating Yet?

The now ex-wife of my good “friend” (me) tried to give him (me) the boot from their house on April 9th about ten years ago. I’m pretty certain you suspect there was motive to the timing – tax season of course. People try to do all sorts of bad things to us during tax season,…
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Fifty Ways to Leave Your Client

“And then she kissed me, and I realized she probably was right.  There must be fifty ways to leave your…” client.  With apologies to Paul Simon for mangling his lyrics, firing the right clients means a more profitable practice and saner life.   Remember those whacky 20th century days when we thought the customer was…
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Client Communications in 21st Century – What Works?

Let’s start with what doesn’t work: clients late for meetings, phone tag, and e-mail hell. If your primary communications methods are: meetings, phone calls, and e-mail, you’re losing out on a lot of money and a saner life. 21st century clients want all the same things 20th century clients wanted, just in new ways. They…
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Choosing a Scanner for Your Tax Software #CPALivesMatter

Right before tax season began and we abandoned all pretense of sanity, we moved one of our admin staff, Sandi, from the front office to a back office, because we needed the front office space for a new admin hire. This didn’t appear to be a major office move. Computer. Check. Desk. Check. Chair. Check.…
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The Annual Tax Meeting is Dead

Here’s part of an e-mail referral I received this past week. “Frank is a great CPA, and you don’t even have to meet with him.” Guess the age of the client and prospective client. If you guessed under fifty, you’re wrong. Both are well into their fifties.   Just when you conquered the night sweats…
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Are You Torturing Your Clients E-delivering Tax Returns?

Most clients prefer water boarding to the way CPA, accounting, and tax firms e-deliver tax returns. The CIA has nothing on us.  Under the threat of un-filed returns and IRS letters, we force clients to parse through a PDF nightmare known as the “government” copy.   Define “government” copy for me.  I dare you.  You…
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Review Notes – To Keep or Not to Keep – That is the Question

If Shakespeare had been a CPA, he would have written the following about review notes.   “To be or not to be.  That is the question.  Whither it be nobler to allow discovery by hostile attorneys or consign the notes to the external damnation of the shredder.”   I’ve been reading practice management guidance lately…
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Millennials Are Almost Humans Too

“Lions and tigers and millennials, oh my!” said Dorothy never on the way to Oz.  Millennials are to blame for everything from global warming to Bernie Sanders.  They are described as brilliant or lazy, often in the same article.  They are the generation best known for walking into street signs, while texting the person with…
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Teach Your CPA, Accounting, or Tax Staff to Micromanage Themselves

The Rev. Martin Luther King dreamt that men would be judged by the content of their character.  I have a more mundane dream – that all staff members perform their jobs without micromanaging from me.  I dream that tax season is filled with the joyful experience of staff accountants setting good priorities and keeping projects…
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3 Rules for Asking Great Tax Return Questions

Asking clients great questions is central to Ruthlessly Efficient Workflow Management (R.E.W.). Great client questions can save hundreds of hours of time during  tax season and prevent projects from falling behind schedule.  Here’s an example of questions done badly.   We sponsored a table at a local group’s presentation.  The group’s event coordinator asked me…
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My Favorite CPA, Accounting, and Tax Practice Management Gurus

CPATrendlines.com. The absolute leader in cutting edge CPA, accounting, and tax practice management ideas.  The editor, Rick Telberg, attracts experts in the future of CPA, accounting, and tax practice management. taxspeaker.com. Bob Jennings’s site isn’t just about tax prep.  Bob was the inspiration back in the late 1990’s for our CPA firm going paperless.  He’s…
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Get Your CPA, Accounting, or Tax Practice Out of E-mail Hell

So you’ve been in a CPA, accounting, or tax practice since Ronald Reagan was President, and you’re just getting used to the giving up the telephone as your main method of communication.  Now I’’m about to tell you that e-mail is like so 1990’s dude, so Kurt Cobain, so grunge era.  In 2016, e-mail could…
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How the Cloud Improves Your Client Service

In case you haven’t noticed, the days of clients blindly accepting the results of our efforts are long gone.  About 45 thousand times during each tax season, we have the shock and awe conversation with clients.   Client: “I paid a lot in taxes.  How can I owe that much?  Something must be missing.”  …
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Get Better Answers from Your Tax Clients

Consider this question from a staff accountant to a client during a tax planning engagement.   “How much in interest and dividend income do you expect for 2015?”   Silly millennial!  He pictures the client poring through a file cabinet of brokerage statements to get us the answer.  From the question, you might expect the…
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Learn to Love Frustration – Or Fix Your Workflow #3

The first two installments covered defining your workflow as the first step to improvement and pushing work down to the lowest staff level possible as the second step.  The final step in improving your workflow is removing unnecessary steps.   As I wrote in the last post, Ruthlessly Efficient Workflow (REW) has two primary tenets. …
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Learn to Love Frustration – Or Fix Your Workflow #2

In my last post, you learned that to fix your workflow, you have to first define your current workflow. Next, let’s work on improving it.   Ruthlessly Efficient Workflow (REW) has two primary tenets. First, tasks should be performed by the least expensive staff capable of performing the task. Second, tasks must either deliver value…
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