10 Tips for Firms of Accountants At Year End.
As we head towards the end of the year it’s easy to get swept up in what needs to be done for year end, and to enjoy a relaxing Christmas holiday. But it is also a good time to take stock of how 2017 went and plan ahead for 2018.
Here are our 10 top tips for your practice, to reflect on what you’ve achieved in 2017, and plan for a successful 2018.
- Don’t forget to thank your clients
However small. Never forget that your next big business win is most likely to come from a referral; and that referral may well just be the little Plumber down the road whose mate won the lottery and needs some expert tax advice.
- Celebrate your wins from 2017
So, what went well this year? The best way to take stock is to write it down. Even a simple checklist of small wins, alongside the bigger ones, will give you an overview of what went on.
Have a whiteboard or flipchart in the office so everyone can contribute and put down their wins from the year for the whole team to celebrate together.
- Look ahead to 2018
Write a list of your top goals and action plans, it’s time to execute them.
- BLOCK out planning time in your diary each month in 2018
It is easy to get into a pattern where you are dealing with whatever is most urgent, the deadline that is coming up soonest, the things that need to be completed this week. But step back and you’ll be able to ensure that some of these bottlenecks can be avoided with clear planning.
It’s important to have regular time in your diary to review what needs to be done and plan accordingly. Quick wins can be actioned and ticked off, and steps can be taken towards bigger goals so that you know you are working your way towards success.
- Take control of your WIP
If you’re not in control of it, who is? Lots of Practitioners are notoriously bad at this. Your whole team needs to buy in to the importance of documenting their work in a timely manner. You need to know what your margins are in order to improve them! Your most profitable clients aren’t always the ones you thought they were!
- Be your own client
So often we give our clients advice that we really should be taking ourselves. It is important to ensure that you are running a tight ship and making the most of the expertise that you have in-house.
You are talking to clients all the time about the same issues you face. Make sure you set aside time in the Boardroom to ‘meet those issues objectively’ in your own practice and apply these principles to take full advantage.
- Review your Interview Procedures.
You may be happy with them and leave them the same, but review them anyway. Your people are your product so your recruitment procedures need to be robust and well thought out. Do you need to spend less time interviewing or more? Each practice is different and each role is different. It’s good to have a template for interviews but you need to be flexible. Does your Payroll Trainee really need to tick all of the boxes that a Client Manager does? Are you conducting simple tests? If you do have tests, are they appropriate? Should you be conducting tests at all? There are no right or wrong answers to these questions; it’s what’s right for you but if you just want ideas and would like to know what competitors are doing then ask someone that knows 😉
- Plan ahead for your clients too
Plan around the year-end dates of your clients. Agree fees, the content of and dates for the production of schedules including deadlines with them in advance to ensure that their year-end goes smoothly.
This will also help with cash flow management. Budgets and fees agreed in advance can ensure that you know what you have coming in and when.
- Look ahead for your Practice – New People and New Products?
By taking stock of what went well this year you’ll be able to see new opportunities. What worked well this year? What have your clients been asking for that you’ve been able to excel at? Where have you added value? Taking the time to review shows you where your practice is strong and therefore where you can grow. This also gives you space to think beyond the next year. You can think about the future of your Practice. What do you want to achieve in the next 5 years? And beyond? Thinking about succession planning can never come too soon so make this part of your planning process this year.
- Just get started!
It’s easy to feel overwhelmed when there is so much to do but planning is a great place to start. It gives you and your practice a framework to gather around and work towards together, rather than pulling in different directions.
Good luck and here’s to a great 2018!