Three Keys to Successful Accounting Practice Development

I received an email from a practitioner in the Northwest a few weeks ago that I found interesting.  It was simply the question, “how would you suggest a CPA grow his practice?”  I found this question interesting because, from my perspective, it is so broad in its vagueness that it expresses a profound uncertainty. An uncertainty many practitioners express to us on a regular basis.

My response contained two questions that every practitioner should consider:

  •  Are you contemplating organic growth?  This is internal growth through practice development processes one client at a time.
  • Are you contemplating acquisition or merger growth?  This is growth through the purchase of a practice or a merger with another firm.

These are not exclusive avenues and every practitioner should put significant focus on practice development systems and processes for long term success.  An acquisition will give you a boost, but without new client development you are going to see decline unless you acquire again…and again…and again.  By the way, this is an option that many practitioners find to be acceptable and in some cases it has been very successful.

In response to this email, I also offered my overview of three key elements of any successful practice development plan:

  1. Client Experience.  How do your clients experience your business?  From taking calls or returning them to visiting your office, what is the client experience?  What is the level and quality of service provided? I list this first, because it can and should be addressed first.  If systems and process are not developed to make the client experience both satisfying and consistent, you will be wasting your money with the next two elements.
  2. Lead Generation.  How will you find new prospective clients?  Develop a strong referral network (client experience is the basis of this approach), telemarketing, direct mail, advertising, etc.  What are the avenues and components you use or need to develop to generate leads?
  3. Lead Conversion.  In my experience, I have always found generating leads to be relatively easy.  It is qualifying and then converting the leads to clients that require the most effort and focus.  Do you have a process to engage a lead and convert it to a client?  How do you interact with a prospect, present your service and ask for the business?  In my conversations during the past seven years I have been surprised how often a practitioner does not have a process and just “wings” the initial meeting.

Each one of these requires thoughtful planning, development of systems and processes, and diligent execution if your organic growth efforts are to be successful.

I would love to hear your thoughts and experience with your own growth efforts and will post more on this during the next few months.

This blog

ProHorizons is a national brokerage and consulting company focusing on accounting practice sales, acquisitions, and business development services since 1995.Our blog is focused on three aspects of our experience:  our first hand knowledge of the various layers to completing a successful transaction; the trends, changes and shifts in timing in the M&A market; and, our goal of assisting practitioners in developing long-term value so they realize maximum return when it is time to exit their practice.

More from this blog

Bloggers crew

Steve Knowles has spent 25 years in business and practice in the UK, but he also worked in the states and the years haven't dulled his way of seeing an alternative view to everyone else, and every day is a new adventure.

42074

Joel M. Ungar, CPA is a lifelong resident of the Detroit area and a graduate of The University of Michigan. He is a principal with Silberstein Ungar, PLLC, a Top 15 auditor of SEC public reporting companies.

74174

Allan Boress, CPA, with over 25 years as a practitioner and consultant to the accounting profession. Mr. Boress is the author of 12 published books in 6 different languages, including a best-seller, The "I-Hate-Selling" Book.

47047

Larry Perry, CPA, CPA Firm Support Services, LLC, is the author of accounting and auditing manuals, author and presenter of live staff training seminars, and author of webcast and self-study CPE programs. He blogs about small audits, reviews, and compilations.

86346
Sandra Wiley, COO and Shareholder, is ranked by Accounting Today as one of the 100 Most Influential People in Accounting as a result of her prominent role as an industry expert on HR and training as well as influence as a management and planning consultant. She is also a founding member of The CPA Consultant's Alliance. Sandra is a certified Kolbe™ trainer who advises firms on building balanced teams, managing employee conflict and hiring staff.
19696

Maria Calabrese, CIR, Human Resources manager for Fazio, Mannuzza, Roche, Tankel, LaPilusa, LLC in Cranford, New Jersey, Maria's topics revolve around the world of: Mentoring, Performance management, and The "Y Generation," a.k.a. "The whY generation".

54120

William Brighenti is a CPA, Certified QuickBooks ProAdvisor, and Certified [Business] Valuation Analyst, operating an accounting, tax, and QuickBooks consulting firm in Hartford, Connecticut, Accountants CPA Hartford.

78684

Ken Garen, CPA, is the co-founder and President of Universal Business Computing Company (www.ubcc.com), a software development firm of high-volume, high-productivity accounting and payroll technology.

24377

Eva Rosenberg, MBA, EA, is the publisher of TaxMama.com, and author of the weekly syndicated Ask TaxMama column. She provides answers to tax questions from taxpayers and tax professionals worldwide.

62471

Amy Vetter, CPA, CITP is the CPA Programs Leader for Intacct Corporation responsible for leading the CPA/BPO Partners nationally.

33727
Brian Strahle is the owner of LEVERAGE SALT, LLC where he provides state and local tax technical services to accounting firms, law firms and tax research organizations across the United States. He also writes a weekly column in Tax Analysts State tax Notes entitled, "The SALT Effect." For more info, visit his website: www.leveragestateandlocaltax.com
100273
Scott H. Cytron, ABC, is president of Cytron and Company, known for helping companies and organizations improve their bottom line through a hybrid of strategic public relations, communications, marketing programs and top-notch client service. An accredited consultant, Scott works with companies, organizations and individuals in professional services (accounting, finance, medical, legal, engineering), high-tech and B2B/B2C product/service sales.
24925

Rita Keller is a nationally known CPA firm management consultant, speaker, author, mentor and blogger. She has over 30 years hands-on experience in CPA firm management, marketing, technology and administrative operations.

50960
Stacy Kildal is the mom of two fantastic kids, an Advanced Certified QuickBooks ProAdvisor, Certified Enterprise Solutions ProAdvisor, Sleeter Group Certified Consultant, a nationally recognized member of the Intuit Trainer and Writer Network, and co-host of RadioFree QuickBooks.
26706
Michael Alter's blog specializes in providing practical advice to those who seek greater profitability and practice management tactics that enhance deeper client relationships.
31025

Sally Glick, CMO, Principal, Marketer of the Year in 2003 and AAM Hall of Famer in 2007, leads a lively discussion of the constantly expanding roles of marketing and the professional marketers that drive this initiative in accounting firms of all sizes.

97483

The IMA Young Professionals Blog features the insights of IMA’s Young Professionals Committee. Committee members share advice and experiences on careers, continuing education, work/life balance, and other issues affecting young accounting and finance professionals.

32213

FEI Financial Reporting Blog provides highlights from SEC, PCAOB, FASB, IASB, and other regulatory news, including reporting under Sarbanes-Oxley Sect 404. It is written by Edith Orenstein, Director of Technical Policy Analysis at FEI.

108342

Sue Anderson has 30 years of experience in continuing education for accountants. Currently she is the program director for online CPE provider CPE Link.

59072

Jim Fahey is COO of Apple Growth Partners, a regional CPA firm in Ohio. His focus is on the effective and efficient use of technology within the firm by all team members.

38358
Caleb Newquist is the Editor-in-Chief of Sift Media US, overseeing content for both AccountingWEB and Going Concern.
65163

Leita Hart-Fanta, CPA, CGFM, and CGAP is the author of "The Yellow Book Interpreted" and owner of Yellowbook-CPE.com a website devoted to training for governmental auditors.

90848

AccountingWEB is more than just a U.S. team of journalists and financial and technology experts - we have an international side, too! Members of our British team who publish AccountingWEB.co.uk share their ideas, insights, and perspectives from across the pond.

51979