Is your firm an award winning practice?

Every year we read of amazing firms who win awards, read their stories and ask ourselves ‘Could we stand a chance of winning that too?’ If you have the basics in place within your firm any award entry takes very little time and it is a wonderful way to reflect on what you have achieved.

Entering awards is a key success driver for boosting team moral and a valuable marketing tool. Sharing such news with clients will reinforce why you are the best advisor for them. Your firm will be perceived in a more positive way and it helps with recruitment and attracting stronger candidates.

Here are 4 key areas which can set a practice apart from the rest and take minimal time or money to implement;

1. First Impressions
Whether it’s by phone or visit. Your front of house team are key to creating the best first impression. Do they know clients names, always smile, and offer refreshments. Does your reception have client testimonials, your menu of services, drinks menu etc. Your own team will be delighted to suggest how you can improve this area of your business.

I have walked into firms often to find boxes and records stacked high, old grubby seats and miserable looking stressed staff who don’t expect me and never even offer a glass of water or to take my coat. I listen to office gossip in the background as everyone thinks I am invisible- in 5 minutes I learn much about the firm! It also matters hugely if a visitor can see the rest of your team and ‘sense’ what the overall atmosphere is like.

It’s like checking into a hotel- think about the experience you would expect and rave about to friends. Your business is the same.

2. Your team
How do you look after your most valuable asset? Here’s what the more successful firms offer;

  • Rewards for hitting billing targets
    Finish early days
  • Don’t work on your birthday
  • Extra shopping day at Christmas
  • Team event days- day trips out as a firm
  • ‘Menu’ of remuneration package to choose what works best for an individual re; pay/holiday/study/working hours etc.
  • Team feedback surveys to get their opinion and act on it.
  • Measure how happy the team is every week.
  • Share your business plan regularly- each team member knows their part to play in that plan
  • Regular documented career development reviews and individual action plans.
  • System for feedback on every job and measuring how a team member is progressing.
  • Team member of the month awards
  • 360 degree feedback- that means team members reviewing managers and partners. Such feedback is shared with the firm and followed up so progress can be measured.
  • Everyone know what each other does in the firm- clear roles and responsibilities shared within the firm
  • Clear interview and induction processes

All of the above provide evidence of what makes your firm special and not run of the mill.

3. Your clients
Why do your clients choose you to act for them? Ask them!

Are your client testimonials up to date and proudly on display. There is no point in having a booklet in reception with testimonials that are 3 years out of date….that tells me something else!

The most forward thinking firms continually measure and monitor what their clients think about them. They use changing systems to do this so the client doesn’t feel it’s a ‘robotic tick box’ exercise. The results are always shared with the team and with clients as a ‘total’ to prove the firm really understands what client service means and how they delivery that in reality.

Many practitioners believe client service is simply about meeting deadlines and telling clients the correct amount of tax to pay. I ask the question ‘isn’t that what every practitioner should be expected to do as standard- like buying a pint of milk and expecting it to be fresh?’

Do you have some case studies with clients where you can record (in writing or video) and share in reception with your team and visitors? I have never met a practitioner who could not tell me at least one story of how he changed a client’s life or did something amazing for them. Capture those stories as that’s what makes you exceptional. Of course, client confidentiality and careful editing has to be respected accordingly.

Do you know what your ideal client profile is? Do you actively seek out these types of clients to act for?

Does every single client know every single service you provide? How can you be sure?

4. The financials and your personal goals
Can you accurately measure your growth and margins? Are your clients graded and do you know what services are most profitable and who you provide them to.

Have you update your business plan and know how you are going to achieve your personal and business goals.

Many award winning firms don’t just focus on profit but pride themselves in taking longer holidays and working less hours. This is more likely to lead to a happier working life which in turn breeds its own success.

If, as a practitioner, you aspire to be an award winning firm and enjoy the benefits then the above 4 areas provide an overview and ready checklist for you to consider. Of course, there are many more factors which makes any firm an award winner. Hopefully this article provides you with the motivation to change what you do and achieve the practice you want.

September 2016 Copyright - Finola McManus, Practice Perfect

Helping accountancy firms to make their clients successful


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