How and when will I retire?

Now that summer holidays are upon us and many practitioners are struggling to manage just 2 weeks away from the office, many are also saying they can never see the time when they can permanently extract themselves form the business.

I am not attempting to go through the specific logistics of a sale here as there is enough written on that subject. What I want to set out here is a help sheet on how to ensure practitioners are planning ahead and preparing for succession in general. My experience has shown that the main criticism of any 'buyer' is that the outgoing partner had not spent time in planning for their exit and the practice is therefore worth less and is also less attractive to any buyer. Why sell yourself short when you have spent a lifetime in building your practice ?

If you were planning to sell your home you would both clean, tidy and do a bit of DIY to show it in its best light- so why not do the same when thinking of disposing of your own business ?


How to recruit and retain the right staff

OK- you have by now read this series of articles and have a business plan, a marketing plan, improved your gross margin, managed your own time and feel life should be good ! Why then can't you find or retain the right people to work in your firm ? They broke the mould when they made you and the younger generation just aren't made of the same stuff as you ! If any of that strikes a chord with you then read on.


How to win new clients

Many smaller firms of practitioners ( up to 4 partners and 20 employees) talk about marketing and needing to win new business but often think they are too small to have a marketing plan.They hold the belief that they can't afford to fund a marketing campaign like the larger players and therefore approach the whole concept of marketing in a haphazard way. No wonder then why results seem to be poor and difficult to measure !


Erosion of Gross Profit in a recession

Practitioners are reporting increasing pressure on how to maintain or improve their gross profit margin in challenging times when clients are demanding higher levels of services and often are reluctant to pay their bills.

How often have you asked yourself 'Why am I working so many hours but have so little cash and am not making enough money?'

The more successful accountancy firms adopt the following strategies which have proved to work in increasing gross profits and of course make a direct impact on their bottom line and cashflow. Most of these strategies are basic housekeeping and best practice - all of which are very easy to implement and are what I call 'quick wins.'


How to plan for the New Year - What do you want to achieve?

Whilst the rest of the world celebrates New Year at midnight on 31st December, I know many practitioners who defer their real celebrations until 31st January and then immediately take off on holiday to recover ! Whatever date you celebrate a new start to another year in business I wish you the best of success and good fortune in achieving your goals in 2011.

I think this is the best time of year to reflect on where you are now compared to 12 months ago and where you want to be in 12 months time. Have your plans changed or did you even have a plan to begin with ? Many practitioners I know have asked that I summarise a helpful 'top tips sheet' to help them review and set a new business plan. Without such a plan you are less likely to be able to achieve what you want,work out the 'how to 'element and measure your progress ongoing.


How to use the tax return season as an opportunity to increase fees and client service levels

Less than 3 weeks to Christmas and how many tax returns have you still to complete ? Finding it difficult to track down clients for missing information and dread to think how you are going to complete the outstanding workload in the time available ? Clients seem to be increasingly grumpy ?

Read on if any of the above strikes a chord and see what you can apply in your own practice that may bring some welcome relief !


How to manage your time in tax return season and keep control of your sanity!

Well.....Summer is now a distant memory and thoughts are turning to Christmas already. This means that panic for many practitioners is beginning to creep in and I hear cries of 'I can't possibly think about business strategy or business planning until the 31st January has passed !'


How does a partner in Practice measure up to being the leader they need to be?

We all completed our training and passed exams to become reliable technicians in our profession. Next, some of us aspired to become partners and even develop and run our own practices. Of course, we never had the time to think about what additional skills we needed to be a partner and a leader, we just were busy getting on with the job in hand weren't we!

That was my story anyway....does it sound a familiar one?


How do partners share their knowledge so they can free their time?

Many practitioners in smaller practices face the challenge of how to plan for retirement and how do they set about passing on and sharing the knowledge and experience they have gained over decades.

Even if you are not contemplating retiring it is even more important in this economic climate for partners to work on what only they should be working on, such as client service levels and business development, and not getting bogged down in basic compliance work.

Until such knowledge can be 'downloaded' and shared with other key team members then the practitioner often can find themselves trapped in working long hours, doing basic technical compliance work with no time to work on business strategy and development let alone thinking about the day when you want to leave the practice and retire.


Events and Seminars - How to put together a successful event no matter what size firm you are

Many practitioners think that marketing and running events or seminars is something that only the bigger firms can do.There is also a myth that you need an in-house marketing specialist to organise such things and a big budget.Listed below are my own top tips which I know work from personal experience in practice.

I would recommend that even the smallest of firms has a marketing plan that includes running events and seminars and details how you will keep existing clients happy whilst detailing how you will win new clients.


Targeted events planning for accountants

Many practitioners think that marketing and running events or seminars is something that only the bigger firms can do. There's also a myth that you need an in-house marketing specialist and a big budget to organise such things. Listed below are my own top tips which I know work from personal experience in practice. Even the smallest of firms should have a marketing plan that includes running events and seminars and details of how you plan to keep existing clients happy, as well as win new ones.



There are so many management guru style books on the market about leadership and the problem is that many practitioners simply don't have the time to read them. Also, many of you have told me in the past that you would value a summary personalised to the needs of smaller practices with practical advice on how to improve and develop your leadership and listening skills.This ultimately would save time and improve the profitability of your practice.



What does 'Client Service' actually mean ? We all talk about it and it is a modern day given that all accountants in practice deliver excellent client service.However, when I ask practitioners and their team of staff to tell me what it means in practical terms, I am often faced with blank faces.

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