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News, tips, and advice for small business owners

Improving Efficiency in Your Accounting Firm

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Anne Perisho

Several people working together to improve efficiency.

These days, accountants and CPAs are handling more than ever. In an effort to diversify their portfolios, accounting firms are offering a wider variety of services than ever before, which means they have to be more on top of their workload and employees than ever before. As an accountant, you may also be trying to stay in compliance with the ever-changing tax laws or struggling to move your company to a more digital platform. With the year drawing to a close, and busy season is on the horizon, your clients are going to expect top-notch customer service from you. As you’re preparing to meet with your clients about their end-of-year to-do lists and responsibilities, it’s a good time to take note of places where your firm could become more efficient to ensure you’re ready to handle it.

Analyze Your Workflows and Establish Processes

The quickest way to create discord in an organization is for every employee to have their own way of doing things. If one person handles their clients one way and another handles them another way, variables are introduced that can spiral out of control. For example, let’s say you need to send out an end-of-year email to your client base relaying important information to them. When one of your employees onboards a new client, they use the company’s business-wide email as their contact email, while another employee has a different methodology, using the owner’s personal email. Depending on who you are trying to reach, you may not be successful, because of this variation.

It’s no surprise then that a well-developed process or workflow can be a life-saver. Vetting and implementing processes to ensure consistency across your firm will help keep your employees on the same page, limiting variables that could cause timely mistakes. One way to get everyone on the same page is to create checklists to ensure processes are maintained and consistent. For example, making sure all information collected from clients in the early stages of a relationship to save yourself time and frustration later. Encourage your employees to check and recheck information when it’s collected to avoid mistakes that may cause bottlenecks down the line. Figure out where you’re running into roadblocks and then look two steps before that to see what might be causing it. You’d be surprised how establishing a few processes early on could make a huge difference.

Let Specialization Work for You

Generalization is useful in small business settings, but it’s important to keep in mind that no one is good at everything. If you have enough employees to allow for specialization, consider structuring your business to allow your workers to do whatever specialty they’re best at. Maybe someone is better at filing tax forms, while someone else might be better at onboarding new customers. Allowing your employees to do what comes most naturally to them will help to eliminate any slow spots that might come from indecision or uncertainty. Additionally, empowering your employees and recognizing their strengths and weaknesses shows that you’re an attentive manager/business owner.

Take Your Info to the Cloud(s)

Like most industries, the accounting field has transformed significantly over the last few decades to include more technology and software integration than previously imagined. Using software to assist you will help your firm streamline processes and prevent errors, especially in complicated tasks like payroll. Nowadays, software can act as a safety net, removing the variable of human error in calculations. Finding ways to take manual practices digital will make your accounting firm vastly more efficient and help to reduce stress.

For example, SurePayroll for Accountants will help you handle payroll for multiple clients easily, while helping you stay on top of ever-changing tax regulations. SurePayroll requires no software updates to keep it compliant with the most recent payroll tax laws, so you never have to spend time wondering if you’re out of compliance.

Additionally, think about keeping yourself organized digitally as well. Using programs like Dropbox or OneDrive to store your files digitally will help you locate records more quickly (assuming you use a logical naming system), and tools like Rocketbook – reusable, digital notebooks you can sync with your email, cloud, or project management systems – make it easier than ever to transfer and organize information.

Identify Your Client Base

As an accountant, you’re probably most concerned with getting as much consistent business as possible to create more revenue. However, you will come across clients who need a little extra help and require more effort. If your accounting firm is profitable and growing and you have some flexibility in the clientele you work with, take note of which of your clients work best with your firm. If you’re running into roadblocks with clients that aren’t ready to meet you halfway or upgrade their platforms to work with you more efficiently, they’re likely feeling the same frustrations about you. It could be that they’re just not the best fit for your firm and they’d be happier somewhere else.

Consider prequalifying new clients to make sure that they have the same expectations and goals as you do. Ideally, you want a clientele that thinks of you as a trusted advisor and is willing to consider additional opportunities with your firm. Think quality over quantity. A handful of clients that trust you to help them through every stage of their business is likely going to be more profitable in the long run than a larger quantity of clients that are unwilling to expand their point of view. Think about developing more solid, mutually beneficial relationships with your clients to ensure that you’re both getting the most out of the partnership. Becoming a trusted advisor to your clients will benefit you more in the long run: remember, if you make an impact on your client’s lives, they’re more likely to turn around and recommend you to their friends.

Bottom Line

The end of the year is always a good time for reflection and setting resolutions for the new year. While some of these steps may take more effort to set up, such as evaluating where bottlenecks are occurring in your firm, in the long run they can make a world of difference to how you run business. However, don’t put your new goals in a “set it and forget it” mindset. Throughout the year make sure you’re checking in with the processes you’re implementing to check progress and make tweaks along the way so you aren’t starting from scratch at the end of each year.

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This website contains articles posted for informational and educational value. SurePayroll is not responsible for information contained within any of these materials. Any opinions expressed within materials are not necessarily the opinion of, or supported by, SurePayroll. The information in these materials should not be considered legal or accounting advice, and it should not substitute for legal, accounting, and other professional advice where the facts and circumstances warrant. If you require legal or accounting advice or need other professional assistance, you should always consult your licensed attorney, accountant or other tax professional to discuss your particular facts, circumstances and business needs.