Stop Crushing Your Team And Start Delighting Your Customers

7-minute read

For close to 12 years, Nick Sinclair, Chairman of The Outsourced Accountant, struggled in trying to run his accounting, bookkeeping, and financial planning firm. Hours were spent each day replying to emails, taking calls, managing calendars, and other admin tasks. They were slowly losing revenue because of the cumulative effect of them doing non-core tasks each day. With little to no time focus on revenue-generating tasks, workload piled up, and Nick and his team struggled to keep up. But Nick implemented the right tools and strategies and got his team out of the weeds. Here is our Chairman’s key insights on productivity and people strategy.

How Is Your Workflow Really Going?

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Take a step back and ask yourself this question: “How is your workflow really going?” If you feel like you don’t get enough work done, don’t worry. You are not walking this path alone. It is a fact that a vast majority of accounting firms the world over are buried in workflow.

Missed deadlines, outdated lodgments, incomplete paperwork, and what have you are common occurrences. One can think of many factors that you can attribute to these to but do you know the real reason why?

The wrong people are doing the wrong type of work. Many partners and managers do work that can be done by other people. Keep reading as we will elaborate which types of work we are referring to. The point here is spending a significant amount of time doing work that are not ‘dollar-productive’ means you are doing your accounting firm a disservice.

The best firms – meaning those who peak productivity to hit and even exceed profit margins – they fine tune their processes. This is to ensure that everything gets done on time and with the quality one expects from highly paid professionals.

Limiting Factors Crushing Productivity…And Your Team!

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Did you know that accountants, accounting firm owners, partners, and managers spend 1 to 2 hours per day doing non-revenue-generating tasks? That is 400 hours billable hours per individual per year! These are admin tasks that have become limiting factors crushing productivity and, in the process, your team. They include:

  • Emails
  • Meetings
  • Calendar Management
  • Reporting
  • Client Issues

 

In poll taken during this webinar, 67% of attendees say that emails are the number one blockers that limit their productivity. While one might think that this is an isolated result, the truth of the matter is that emails have become one of the major hindrances to productivity.

Majority of the time partners and managers sit in front of the computer screen when they should be sitting in front of clients. Nick can attest to this while he was running his firm as he used to receive anywhere from 300 to 450 emails per day. Can you imagine that? If you’re a rainmaker, your work should be talking to clients, right? Then, why are you sitting in front of your computer?

Coming second and third in our poll were meetings and client issues respectively. It is a given that you should have internal meetings to align your team. But if they eat a large chunk of your day, then nothing gets done. Team meetings should be short and concise. The less time you spend in them, the better.

When it comes to client issues, accountants, owners, partners and managers shouldn’t deal with them directly. Someone in a specialized role can deal with them better so you can be more productive. Watch the webinar above to learn what this role is.

People Strategy: The Impact of (Not) Getting It Right

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Again, it comes down to the people factor of the success equation. It’s has become all too common for accounting firms to not have a people strategy. Ask yourself: When you last sat down to map out your firm’s objectives for a financial year, did you work out how may staff you need to achieve those objectives?

Most firms think they are under-resourced because they can’t find or keep the right staff. But, we typically see that most firms are over-resourced – they just have the wrong people doing the wrong work.

Having the right people strategy is critical to achieving your growth strategy. The crucial elements to an effective people strategy are:

  • Attracting, keeping, and growing the right people in the right roles
  • Having the right technology so they can fulfill their roles effectively
  • Implementing the right processes so they can do their work more efficiently

 

If just one of these three key elements is missing, you will have effectively doomed your firm to fail.

Conclusion

This is Nick Sinclair’s view specifically on productivity and people strategy. There are loads more insights you can learn when you watch the webinar. You will discover how the effect on customers and the referrals they send your way when you are too busy doing non-core tasks each day. Learn, if you haven’t already, about ‘The Urgent Versus Important Matrix’ that will help your daily time management. See our recommendations for apps that can help streamline your workflow as well as the four roles that will make a massive difference in increasing your productivity.

But one critical point to remember though. When we say, the right people, we mean A-players – those with the requisite skills, work ethic, and attitude that will help drive your firm towards sustainable growth. This is what we do best. We provide more than 300 accounting firms around the world with over 1,000 specialist accountants, bookkeepers, and financial analysts as well as marketing, sales, finance, and administration support staff that deliver the results our clients want.

Let us show you how we can help you build a championship team of A-players. You can schedule a FREE consultation with one of our global team specialists.

BOOK MY FREE CONSULTATION

Client Spotlight: Empowered With Time For Firm Growth

6-minute read

To gain the time you need to grow your firm, you need the capacity to do all the work that needs to be done. Debra Houghton of Gilligan Sheppard out of New Zealand has seen first-hand how building a high-performing offshore team can empower their local team with the time for firm growth. 

Why Build An Offshore Team?

For Debra, offshoring for them means that: 

  • They can have more employees. 
  • They can actually grow their business without actually having more resources in our office in New Zealand.  
  • They don’t have to have a disk, a computer and they don’t have to look after all of that extra stuff. 
  • They actually got an offshore team that can work just as well as they want and that is in contact with them all the time.

So, offshoring just makes sense to them. 

What made you choose TOA?

Gilligan Sheppard’s needs are definitely being met by the two administration team members that they have with us at TOA.  

 

“We love them. They’re definitely part of our Gilligan Sheppard family, and we include them with all of our decisions that we are making.”

Their two offshore team members visit New Zealand, come to conferences, and any team building that they have. 

How is your TOA Customer Experience?

 

“It was very easy to recruit, very easy to do the interview process via Skype. I think we’ve chosen really well. So, we’re really happy with that.”

Debra says that it has probably taken about a good six months to a year to get used to how they work and what they need to do to make the relationship easier and make it better both their local and offshore teams.  

But, she says adamantly that it would be the same if they had somebody in the office. It would take six months to a year to do that training to make sure they know their job fully. It’s just the same thing. Debra says that when you want to train anyone in your processes and procedures in-house or offshore, it’s the same amount of time. So as long as you recognize that, it’s fine. 

Arlyn, the administrative assistant who does collection for them, get to phone the clients directly. Debra doesn’t have to be involved in that. Arlyn has a script and she follows it very well, but she is also able to talk to the clients directly. When they ask questions, she’s able to answer them. Arlyn doesn’t need a script for those sort of things. She has her own mind, and she has her own way of talking, and that’s perfectly fine with Debra. 

Speaking about what’s great with working with Debra and the local team, Arlyn says that they have consistent communication, they do Skype calls every week. They even have training in New Zealand which is an opportune time to bond with Debra and the local team. They’ve gone boating and wakeboarding. Having more time to bond, they get to know more about each other.  

 

“They treat us like family. They don’t even treat us like employees. We’re understood. We’re that they are valued and welcomed.”

Since she does debt collection, Arlyn has learned a lot about having a good relationship with clients. Because of this, she has grown as a person and an individual, and Gilligan Sheppard has helped her achieve that. 

How would you describe your TOA Team Members?

They have chosen team members who interact well with the local team. So, their personality types are very friendly. They are very nice, says Debra. And they found that, when they came to New Zealand, that they are very brave as well. They’ve taken them out of their comfort zone, done different things that they probably won’t normally do in the Philippines. They’ve also found that the offshore team they’ve got can challenge them to be better, and that has been really good for  them. 

They actually did a two-day training that TOA did for them instead of them doing that. TOA trained their team. Immediately, they already knew the system, the database that they were using, and they were able to freely go wherever Debra asked them to go. That was incredible, she exclaimed!

What are the results of working with TOA?

Having a team at TOA has meant that Debra has more resources within her admin team back in New Zealand. So, because they are using TOA to house their administration the offshore team members do not get interrupted like their receptionist o other admin team members. They don’t get the same phone calls from clients. They don’t get the same interruptions as communications are via email or via Skype, and they can choose when they will answer those. So having more resources have allowed the local team to have more time to actually deal with clients and do more customer-oriented tasks. Debra is pleased about that. 

Would you recommend TOA?

If you’re making the decision to offshore using TOA means that you have more time and more resources within your own office to do the things that you want to do, Debra says. 

 

“So go out and see your clients, go out and do the things that you enjoy doing, and get TOA to do the things that you don’t necessarily want to do or the things that are more process-driven.”

One of great advantage that Debra had when she was thinking of  TOA was that she was actually told about it by other practices, and she was invited to come and visit our TOA Clark offices. She did that before she even came and organized getting the team that she wanted. 

Conclusion

So, if you want to gain the capacity you need to a have the time you want to grow your firm, start building your offshore team. We can help you do exactly that. More than 300 accounting firms across the globe have over 1,000 accountants, bookkeepers, and financial analysts as well as marketing, sales, finance, and administration support staff with us. 

Start taking back your clock by scheduling a FREE consultation with one of our  global team specialists. 

I WANT TO BOOK MY FREE CONSULT

Top 5 Accounting Business Strategies That Work And Do Not Work

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5-minute read   Having the right accounting business strategies is crucial to your firm’s success. You can read hundreds of books and guides on how to build better and more profitable businesses. But, you need to know what works and what doesn’t. You need how-to methodologies from an expert with decades of experience in helping accountants build thriving ... Read more

Cloud Security for Accounting Firms: Why It’s Not An IT Issue

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4-minute read    Cloud security for accounting firms is one critical factor that is holding back firm owners and partners from building dedicated offshore teams. With growing market awareness around cyber security from the Mandatory Breach Reporting legislation coming into effect in February 2018 and the increased media attention from recent high-profile breaches, cautiousness is at an ... Read more

Strategies for Accountants to Accelerate Business Growth: Key Insights from The Ignite 2018 Roadshow

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6-minute read

 

With our Ignite 2018 Roadshow in the history books, Nick Sinclair, Chairman of The Outsourced Accountant, held a webinar which discussed the key strategies taken up during the events that can help accountants, bookkeepers, accounting firm owners and partners build thriving businesses. The webinar revolved around how you can futureproof your workforce to ensure that you achieve sustainable growth. Here are snippets of what was discussed: 

Attracting A-players

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One of the biggest challenges accounting firms face is getting, growing, and keeping the best people that the industry has to offer – the A-players. But before you can attract the cream of the crop, you need to have the answers to two key questions: 

1 – How does your business look from the outside? 

Right from the get-go, your initial value proposition is how appealing your business looks. If your website looks dated or your office looks dreary with paint chipping away, the best people will not be inclined to work with you. So, if you want to attract A-players, spruce up your website and do a bit of office renovations. A little goes a long way. 

2 – What do you stand for? 

Quality team members want to work for business owners that know their ‘why’, have their values set, and are passionate about what they do. When A-players are engaged in something they believe in, they will go that extra mile. So, determine the reason your business exists and then set your business values, culture, and standards to get the best staff knocking at your door. 

What is your people strategy?

 

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When you have managed to attract the best people, you need to have a plan to grow your team. Many accounting firms create a growth strategy but fail to align their people strategy with it. There is no use having A-players when you don’t have a plan on how to provide them with the right tools, processes, and training to help them succeed. What we found throughout the roadshow was that most firms either have:  

1 – The right people doing the wrong work. On average, accountants and support staff spend 400 hours per year doing administration-related tasks. 

2 -The right people but not the right technology. Many firms invest on technology that they are not maximising the full potential of or worse, not using at all.

3 – The right people and the right technology but do not have the training and processes to use them properly. 

What most firms do not understand is that, to grow their business, you need to grow your people too. In line with this, individual development and learning plans must be in place to enhance their core competencies and develop new skills. 

Evolution of An Employee

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Global industries are changing. With it, the way people work is changing as well. All aspects from the how, when, where, and even to why people work as has evolved and will continue to do so. As you can see in the infographic above, industries at large are shifting from traditional methods to new-age practices. This is predominantly due to the rapid change brought about by disruptions in technology and work methods. What was once relatively effective ways of doing work and business has now given rise to innovative concepts because of the real need for accounting firms to adapt or be left behind. 

The key thing that can be derived from this is that accounting firms should have greater focus on ensuring that people are given highest priority. Your team is a critical factor that can make or break your firm. But it is important to remember that having all the latest and best technology and the most effective accounting business strategies are worthless without the right people to implement them properly. Keep in mind though that people with high-level skillsets come at a premium. So, here’s where you find that balance in getting the right people with the right skillsets for the right roles and at the right cost. 

Keeping The Best Team Members

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When you’ve managed to get the right team for you, now you must focus on making sure they stay. Here the key questions you need ask yourself: 

1 – What are you doing to keep the best team members? 

Taking measures to ensure your best team members stay is of the utmost importance. Try implementing a development and training program so your team can enhance their core competencies and develop new skills. This is a veritable win-win situation. By growing your team’s capabilities, you not only give them a reason to stay but you dramatically improve your workflow and service delivery. 

2 – Do you know if your team is happy? What is your communication strategy? 

Knowing what motivates your team will allow you to determine how to maximise their productivity. Create communication rhythms to align your team with not only the day-to-day operations but also with your overall vision for your accounting business. Make sure to sit and talk with them to fully understand how you can make their time with your firm a truly inspiring and fulfilling one. 

Conclusion

With the accounting industry in a state of constant change, there has never been a more crucial time to have the right team in your stead. These are just some of the key points discussed in the webinar. What you always have to remember is behind every successful business is a team of inspired and highly skilled people. Do what you must to choose your team wisely, understand what makes them tick, and create ideal situations for them to flourish. Do this and you will see your business vision realised in less time than you would imagine. 

Let us help you build a high-performing team that not only delivers the results you and your clients want but help you fulfill your vision. 

Schedule a FREE online consultation with one of our global team specialists.

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7-minute read   Did you know that, on average, accountants, accounting firm owners and partners spend 1 to 2 hours per day doing non-revenue-generating tasks?  That is 400 hours of possible billable hours per year! Let that sink in for a moment.   Your firm is actually losing revenue because of the cumulative effect of you doing … Read more

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5-minute read   Anxiety is in the minds of accountants, accounting firm owners and partners. With the accounting industry in flux from widespread disruption of new-age technology and best practices, it is to be expected. Ed Chan of Chan & Naylor and WIZE Mentoring asks:      “Where is the Accounting industry heading and is your job safe, and is our ... Read more

Strike The Balance Between Time And Technology

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5-minute read   Time is a luxury that most accountants do not have. Yes, technology has made it so that work is more efficient and thus can be delivered faster. But, to the detriment of accounting firms, clients know this fact. Now what happens is they expect to pay cheaper fees because they know work ... Read more

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4-minute read   The #Ignite2018 Roadshow has come to a close. This six-city event has been a resounding success with an audience of close to 300 accounting firms from across Australia. The roadshow was designed specifically to help Accountants, Bookkeepers, Accounting Firm Owners and Partners build thriving businesses. An amazing panel of industry experts were on hand to share priceless tools ... Read more

Growing Through Offshoring: How We Help Our Clients

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6-minute-read   The vision of The Outsourced Accountant (TOA) is to revolutionise global accounting teams. We aim to be the leader in providing dedicated accounting and professional support staff for firms in the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and the rest of the world. With close to 900 accountants and support staff and continuously growing, ... Read more

3 Essential Steps To Grow Your Firm And Achieve The Results You Really Want

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7-minute read   For a brief moment, imagine taking a step back away from your firm. From the outside looking in, is the current status quo of your accounting business what you imagined it would be when you first decided to build it? The fact of the matter is that a vast majority of accounting ... Read more

Is Technology Really Growing Your Firm?

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Achieving sustainable growth in an industry amidst rapid disruptive change is not easy.

Do you want to know the secret of the the world’s most profitable and high-performing firms?

They use a three-pronged approach: Technology, People, And Process:

Optimum use of the right tools and technologies, the right people in the right roles, and the right accounting business strategies and how-to methodologies are keys to your firm’s success.

Time For A Reality Check

During our most recent poll, we asked accounting firms “how helpful is technology in growing your firm?”:

  • 33% say they use some software but need to learn more
  • 28% say they have an IT stack but have not maximised all of it
  • 17% say they have just started building their IT stack
  • 11% say that they are learning just now

But the most important number is:

  • Only 11% say that their IT stack is very helpful and they are using it efficiently.

What this figure says is that there is a very low percentage of accounting firms who are using technology to its fullest potential. If your accounting firm wants to achieve its goals, you need to maximise the use of the technology available to you.

The Fact of The Matter

 

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According to Ron Lesh, Founder and Managing Director of award-winning BGL Corporate Solutions, there are five types of accounting firms depending on when they started integrating technology.

  1. Innovators – The initiators and creators of better and faster ways to do things
  2. Early Adopters – The first to use the latest technology
  3. Early Majority – The firms that saw Early Adopter results and began using the technology as well
  4. Late Majority – The firms that started using technology relatively recently
  5. Laggards – The firms who haven’t, are just thinking of, or don’t want to use technology

Ron says that most accounting firms are heading into the Late Majority. But you would most definitely not want to be a Laggard because, in today’s digital age, accountants like you need to realize two things:

  1. You are no longer purveyors of information. Clients can ask Google.
  2. Clients know what you know. They have access to all their info and they know your competitors.

This is why it is very important to be ahead of the curve by not only using technology but to make sure they are all integrated. Most times, accounting firms use different software that don’t actually connect to each other.

Integration is the first step to automation. With automated systems, you can streamline workflow to increase efficiency and consequently enhance capacity.

The Benefits of Automation

Let’s say each year all your work takes 10,000 hours to finish. When you automate your systems effectively, you will see a:

  • 30% decrease in total number of hours after 2.5 years to only 7,000 hours
  • 60% decrease in total number of hours after 5 years to only 4,000 hours

Imagine what you can do with thousands of extra hours. You can use it to do extensive business planning. You can take on more new clients. You can train your teams. There is so much time you can save to focus on really growing your firm.

Time To Grow Your Firm

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The pace by which leading-edge technology and best practices are changing is staggering. Rob Nixon, success mentor, coach, and facilitator to hundreds of accounting firms worldwide, knows this all too well. To grow your accounting business, he says that you need to do three things:

  1. FIX what is going on today. Technology wise, do an audit of what you use. If you are not maximising their full potential, ensure that you do or use something that you can. Then, start fixing your workflow, pricing, receivables, client mix, and all day-to-days.
  2. MINIMISE time and get more efficient. Look at every single technology you use. If it is not helping minimise time or increase capacity, use something that will. Mishandling of data occurs the more people it passes through. Automation cuts this. Gaining time and capacity will allow you to increase profits and achieve sustainable revenue growth.
  3. SCALE to your desired business size. When you have sorted out the first two, it is time to set targets and grow your business. Go into new niche markets. Expand your services portfolio and include value-added services.  

Rob says, “Let technology write the history and accountant make history.” Automate your processes so you, the accountant, can focus on serving clients. Pair this with effective implementation of the right accounting business strategies and you will have the formula for success.

“Your accounting firm can be whatever you want it to be. Your dreams, imagination, your desire to implement new ideas will make all the difference.”

How To Face Critical Challenges

Before your firm achieves sustainable growth, there will be hurdles you have to jump over. Our survey says that:

  • 55% of accounting firms consider technological advancements as their major challenge.
  • 39% say it is the high cost of labour
  • 35% say that it is meeting customer expectations
  • 31% say that it is the lack of team members with necessary skills
  • 14% say that is globalisation and integration of cloud technology

Build a highly skilled global accounting team and you can address a majority of these challenges. While you will gain the capacity you need, remember that this is a long-term play. You need to match this with the right accounting business strategies and how-to methodologies.

Low Risk And High Rewards

Offshoring is not a risky proposition as you might think. We at The Outsourced Accountant have worked with hundreds of accounting and they will tell you that the rewards outweigh the risks many times over.

By having a high-performing global team, you free up your local team to be more productive and increase workflow efficiency. So matching the right skills with the right people allows your local team to grow in the process.

Building Your Team

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There are 10 clear-cut advantages of building your local team and a team in the Philippines:

  1. Full-time Employees – You will have a dedicated offshore team.
  2. Aligned with Your Time Zone – Your offshore team will work while you work.
  3. Highly Secure Data and Systems – You do not worry about breaches.
  4. Free Consult To Plot Your Growth – You have us to help you build your team and business.
  5. Full-time Offshore and Local Support – You have increased time and capacity.
  6. A-team for Long-term Investment – You gain a high-performing team to help achieve growth sustainability.
  7. Highly Skilled Talent Pool – You choose from the best-of-the-best industry specialists.
  8. Great English Proficiency – Your team will have one of the highest English proficiency rates in Asia.
  9. Low Employee Turnover – You can trust your team to stay and be loyal to you.
  10. Client Education and Peer Community – You have access to other firms on the same journey.

So if you want your firm to achieve true sustainable growth, a potent combination of the effective implementation of the right technology, the right people in the right roles, and the right accounting business strategies is key.

You can start by letting us show you how we can help build your own high-performing offshore team. The hundreds of accounting firms who are working with us are thriving.

Let us show you what we can do for you.

Schedule a FREE phone consultation with one of our global consultants.

FREE 1-ON-1 CONSULTATION