Top 3 Things I’m Working on in My Business
Tax season “officially” wrapped up a few weeks ago. February through April tends to be the busiest time of year for guys and gals like me. And while many CPAs may fly away to some oasis as soon as it’s over and disappear for a while, that’s not my style. I took a quick breather and now I was back…looking at my business to see what was working well and what wasn’t. After all my business just got pushed really hard. Some things went well. Some things didn’t. To me, this was a very good time to step back and make necessary adjustments. I thought I’d take a few minutes to talk about the top 3 things I am working on in my business as the moment. It actually boils down to 3 questions I am asking myself.
Am I giving my clients exactly what they are asking for?
That’s not intended on being a play on words. What I mean is do I really know what they want? If I can’t answer that question then it probably means I haven’t even asked them. That’s kind of a problem right? Let me give you a simple example.
As a younger company, I am constantly picking up new clients. In most cases, these clients have worked with a tax or accounting professional before but things didn’t go as they would have liked. TADA!!! There’s my first clue into understanding what my clients want. Find out why they are making a change in the first place! I find that, many times, communication is the area that caused my new clients to be upset with their old provider. So what do I offer that is better than where they came from? Do I have a better communication approach than my competitors?
I don’t have to reserve my questions for only my new customers. Wisdom comes from getting the information and all you have to do is ask. I am committing to do that with all of my clients so I know, not only how am I doing on the promises I made, but also how aligned are my promises with their needs. I may not always get it right, but I have to hear it from my customers and then make adjustments if I want to get better.
Are my processes up to par?
What the heck do I mean by that? Well any of you who know me know that I come from a process improvement background. In my world, if you are performing a task repeatedly, there is a process involved which needs to be defined, measured, analyzed, improved and controlled (you process excellence nerds will see what I just did there). And in my world, there are plenty of processes.
Right now I am examining where my processes let me down. Maybe it was in processing time. Maybe it was in work quality. If I take communication as an example, how did I do there? Was I communicative enough? Did I fail in communication at any point (I guarantee you some of my clients would say it was)? If so, what can I do to correct that? Maybe it’s an addition to a checklist so I reach out to a client more timely or more effectively. Maybe I can create a process document that I can share with clients so they understand what will be happening and when. Maybe I need to open up my communication options and figure out how best to communicate with my clients (maybe a quick text message would have eliminated the 3 voicemails over 2 weeks).
The bottom line is you make improvements only when you have something to improve upon. So if communication time is a measure, I have to know what the standard is, I have to document the communication events and I have to have a way to get those metrics in my face so I can do something about them.
Are my resources up to par?
Resources can mean different things to different people. In my world, it is people, software, education, systems, etc. My resources need to be good enough to support my processes and good enough to satisfy my customers. If they are not, something needs to give and quick! Sometimes you can make a quick fix with an investment of time and/or money. But sometimes you have to make tough choices. And here’s a tip for all you big spenders out there…it’s entirely possible to have more resources than you need to get the job done. Let me explain that a little better.
I once had the idea that I could not have enough really great software. After all, great software would make for efficiency which should make me better at my job and make my customers more happy. Right? Problem was I wasn’t asking the question, “Does this matter to my customer?” So I would spend money on software with all the bells and whistles and guess what? I would find that not only was my software cumbersome and difficult to learn, but my customers didn’t give a darn what I used to get the work done. All they wanted was their work done right and on time. At one point I was looking at my financial statements and realized that I was spending 20% of my revenue on my software! No Bueno. I realized I had way more horsepower than I needed and I adjusted.
So my busiest time of the year is behind me and I am working on making my next “busy season” more successful than the last one. I hope you’ll take some time to stop and evaluate your business and find those precious few things you should be working on.