Does Your Firm Lack Capacity? Here’s What You Should Do

You want to run your business in the same way water flows through a pond.

This is just one of the many nuggets of wisdom from our recent webinar’s guest, Ed Chan, Co-Founder & Non-Executive Chairman of Chan & Naylor and Founder of WIZE Mentoring, during the one-hour session with TOA Global Chairman, Nick Sinclair.

How can you ensure your firm operates as smoothly as water running through a stream?

It’s all about how you manage people. 

A well-crafted and implemented people strategy is crucial to any practice. If you don’t get it right, you’re going to struggle. A significant part of this will depend on workflow management, which Nick Sinclair observed is a major problem in many firms.

Wrong people are doing the wrong type of work.

Nick Sinclair, Chairman, TOA Global

Are your people doing the wrong work?

Firm owners, managers, and decision-makers need to learn effective ways to manage traffic flow. Ed Chan, who mentors entrepreneurs through his company, WIZE Mentoring, shared that many accounting firms think they don’t have enough people to do the work when in reality, they have, at the very least, enough people. The problem is these people are doing the wrong work.

The key to a more efficient practice: managing your traffic flow.

Two things that affect your traffic flow:

  • Communication
  • Types of team members

Communication consists of email, calls, and meetings. To function efficiently, your firm needs people with the right interpersonal skills.

The type of team member you have will determine the quality and quantity of work done. They are broken down into three types: grinders, minders, and finders.

Who are the Grinders?

Grinders are considered the execution arm of the organization.

  • Do the work and are fantastic at it
  • Not necessarily impeccable communicators but they execute work that’s essential to achieving the business goals
  • Take the vision and opportunities pulled in by the Finders and deliver promised products and services

Examples of Grinders:

  • Accountants
  • Bookkeepers
  • Digital Marketers
  • Social Media Managers
  • Graphic Designers
  • Receptionists

Who are the Minders?

They are focused on doing what’s important.

  • Awesome at organizing and managing the work
  • Make sure that all the systems and processes within a firm run smoothly
  • Also responsible for putting out small fires, repair and maintenance, improvements with workflow process, etc.

Examples of Minders:

  • Client Managers
  • Client Service Coordinators
  • Office Managers
  • Administrative Team Members

Who are the Finders?

  • Know how to plan for the important things
  • They find new clients and get more work
  • Focused on business development and account management and making sure that there’s a constant stream of revenue for the firm to increase profit margins

Examples of Finders:

  • CEO, COO, CMO, CFO, etc.
  • Managing Directors
  • Senior Partners

Essential tip: get the right people to the right seats so they can do the right kind of work.

So how do you maximize the types of team members in your firm?

  • Identify their strengths and weaknesses and make the most out of them
  • Get them in the right seats so they can do the right kind of work
  • Implement the right team structure (narrow and deep > shallow and wide)
  • Get the right ratio of team members (1 minder is to 5 grinders)

Benefits of Outsourcing

Here are some key takeaways from Ed’s outsourcing experience:

  • It’s easy to find Grinders but challenging to find Minders
  • Outsourcing can help find Grinders
  • Outsourcing is the perfect way to save money for you to spend on your onshore team


How can firms get the onshore team on board the idea of outsourcing?

When you encounter initial push back from your onshore team it’s important to display some leadership skills so they can look at this business model the same way as you do.


What is the cost benefit of outsourcing?

How much capacity do you have?

To build capacity (and ensure you have enough to continuously deliver work), remember these tips:

  • Map out a people strategy
  • Manage traffic flow well
  • Utilize the right team structure

A few more takeaways from Ed:

You create capacity when the water flows well, meaning there are no blockages.

You need to identify where blockages are. These usually happen when:

  • There are too many senior grinders who are not very good at interpersonal skills
  • Low-end communication versus high-end communication
  • There are too many experienced workers who are not good communicators
  • Grinders and Minders are not in the right seats
  • There are too many Minders and not enough Grinders and vice versa

We have the capacity to get to $5M per partner thanks to the process, systems, and team structures created around people.

Ed Chan, Co-Founder & Non-Executive Chairman, Chan & Naylor

What does your firm need to look at?

Size of firm, staff turnover, and the type of people you need.

Setting up a Global Team

A good map and strong leadership are key to making this work.

Pay attention to the cost factors

Cost is one significant consideration for firms when they head down the offshore path.

You cannot do anything about the cost of certain things, like rent or software. But you can do something about how much you spend on your staff.

Look at your staff and the revenue they are invoicing versus how much they cost.

Aim for a 32% to 35% wage to cost ratio.

If you’re not doing this, then you are either too cheap or too expensive. You are either not paying your staff enough or spending way too much on their salary.

If you want the best employees working for you, you need to pay them above average.

Nick Sinclair

Setting up an offshore team allows you to get the best people for the work you need at very affordable prices.

What roles can you outsource?

Setting up a global team will free up your time so you can have more time to be client-facing and focus on other revenue-generating tasks.

Hiring an Executive Assistant can have tremendous benefits for time-poor accountants and firm owners:

  • Gain hundreds of hours extra capacity
  • Improve productivity
  • Boost revenue and profit
  • Gain time to focus on business growth
  • Achieve work-life balance

We have created a guide to help you learn key details from planning, initiation, and development of the perfect EA for you.

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