There is no right way to run an accounting firm. However, in their efforts to serve clients, many firms overlook their own business practices. Partners need to be just as deliberate about their firm operations strategies as they are about helping their clients. That’s why we interviewed several firm operations and administration experts about how they contribute to their firm’s overall business success. From client service, staffing, and technology, a purposeful approach to firm operations can pay dividends.
Accelerating Growth with Technology
Emily Mazey, Chief Administrative Officer at MiddletonRaines+Zapata discusses how the firm administrator can play an important role in firm growth. Streamlining operations helps firms work more efficiently and serve clients better.
“My role as the Chief Administrative Officer is really to provide the leadership and management to ensure the operational aspects and the administrative procedures are there in place to grow the firm… Being able to pull up the status of our clients and where the workload is at any time and anywhere really provides that experience that we’re able to give our clients, in order to be more efficient in the firm and grow.”
Transforming Client Service
Focusing on client service is a goal all firms should work towards. Sally McMichael, Client Services Manager at Clausen & Associates says client expectations have changed a lot. That’s why firms need to have systems in place to get to know their clients better and serve them faster.
“I think every single client feels like I know them really well because I have that information in front of me. When a client calls in, I call up their name and I read quickly through the notes and I know what’s happening with them… I think it creates more of a family feeling with our clientele. And it also allows our staff members to feel more like a family, because everybody knows all of the same information about those clients.”
One way firms can improve client service is by providing services faster. Building efficiency within the firm can reduce errors and shorten turnaround time. Sally McMichael shares how Clausen & Associates uses software to improve collaboration.
“It allows everybody to access the information that they need during the day from their desktop, they’re not calling each other or chatting each other up or coming out to ask me for advice on where things are, what the progress is.”
Increasing Staff Engagement
Staffing challenges are not new to the accounting profession. For years now, firms have competed for talent to ensure they are staffed with the best and brightest. But the best and brightest expect the best technology. They understand that they have a lot of options, and they won’t settle for doing busywork because your firm hasn’t updated its processes. Emily Mazey tells us about the commitment MiddletonRaines+Zapata makes to its developing staff and future leaders.
“The young folks that we have, honestly they are the center of the ideas for our firm and for our culture. I feel like our partners really listen to what they have to say. They are where it’s going and they know where it’s going and we want to stay in the forefront of that…”
Managing Multi-Office Firms
John Curtis, Senior Manager, IT/Business Applications and Development at Weaver talks about how technology has helped unite that firm’s multiple locations. Centralized cloud technology creates consistent, standardized workflows and a cohesive firm culture.
“Staff and resources can be shared across multiple locations. It encourages collaboration. Staff who are working in Houston can be working on the same projects in Los Angeles. The tools, the data, the way the systems are accessed are exactly the same.”