In Australia one financial year has ended and a new one begins. Many professional practices do their annual strategies, planning and budgets at this time to coincide. Good business doesn’t just happen by accident. Few things come easily. Very rarely do good things come easily. The only way a business can run itself, like a motor vehicle, is downhill.
What are your firm’s goals for this new financial year?
Working on strategy with an accounting firm in Adelaide we set some expectations for the coming three years:
- The clients we want to attract are excellent people to work with. They operate profitable businesses, value our input and advice, and come to us for our opinion and counsel on a wide range of business issues. As a result, they buy many services from us each year, not solely compliance work.
- As a firm we will pursue interesting projects, irrespective of fee-levels so that we can promote enthusiasm, innovation, and learning within the ranks of our staff. Once completed, we will assess these client-projects to measure how much they have stretched us professionally and intellectually and, as a direct result, how much our people have grown as trusted advisers in both breadth and depth of professional skill and experience.
- We will work to guarantee our clients truly enjoy working with us and are always delighted with the service experience they receive when working with our firm. We will build a culture of “relationship service” rather than simply “customer service”. From our receptionist to the senior partners in the practice, everyone is working as a genuine team and delivering quality work, output and service of the highest order.
- As a firm, our measure of success is not tied to time sheets or billings. We will measure the success of our practice by:
- Independently assessed client satisfaction
- Referrals received from existing clients
- Introductions received from our colleagues, peers, alliances, friends and business acquaintances
- Gross fees earned for work that is not considered mainstream accounting, but rather consultative and project work
- The proportion of net profits earned from “retainers” versus “time-based billings”
- The increased average tenure of all staff at our firm
- How many new people have joined the firm as staff
- Our hiring policies will focus on attracting bright, driven, client-centred individuals who add value to our internal and external relationships
- Our firm will increase opportunities to provide additional services to clients that are not standard accounting services
- We want our clients to love the ‘new’ approach we have adopted—always looking for ways to help them build a better business—and they value the additional services they have received and happily paid for, as they have perceived the value of what our firm has done for them to be exceptionally high
- We want our staff to truly enjoy getting out of bed every work day and, in fact, cannot remember a time when they dreaded coming to work
Is this something like what you want to achieve for your professional practice? It matters not if you are accountants—or whether you’re lawyers, bankers, business coaches, consultants, financial planners, recruiters, etc.,—the intent is the same.
But if this is something you’d like to achieve for your organisation, then you must start doing things that little bit different. Changes and improvements and standards like these above don’t happen overnight, and it won’t happen by itself. You, your partners and your staff are the only people who can make it happen. I can guide you, advise you, educate you, and support you; but it relies on your team actually doing the work.
What are you willing and going to do today to start the journey in this new financial year?
© Ric Willmot 2012. All rights reserved