May 31st 2013
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By Alexandra DeFelice
For ten years, Joe Evers, a CPA who owns a small practice in Phoenix, Arizona, attempted to work more proactively with his clients, but he was never able to move his firm in the direction he was hoping for.
"I wanted to ensure I knew how everything would work before I moved forward, but figuring everything out was an obstacle to doing it," Evers said during Thriving Firm Radio's recent episode "Your Practice on Your Terms." "Everything will never line up perfectly. It doesn't have to be perfect before you get started."
Rick Solomon, CEO and cohost of the weekly radio show, emphasized that if practitioners change the way they think, their firms will change.
So what changed in Evers' world?
He outsourced a large number of his once-a-year tax clients to another firm. This allowed him to devote time he normally would have spent with those clients with clients he believed he could have a greater impact on.
He started with three clients, who he meets with regularly, and talks with them about their personal goals, business goals, and ways for them to get ahead in their businesses and personal lives.
"I'm giving them a lot more attention and talking about what makes a difference in their lives versus just providing accounting services," Evers said. "They're moving toward the goals they want to accomplish. They seem much happier."
And so does Evers.
The CPA professed that deciding to move his tax clients to another firm made his life easier, that he's calmer and less stressed out. During busy season, he only went into the office one Saturday, and that was to clean his office. In terms of the bottom line, the fee differential is much higher with clients he's working with on a proactive basis, so he's generating more income than before.
"Two thousand twelve was my best year ever, and my work is more fulfilling," said Evers.
He describes his new role with his clients as "business therapy."
"Just listen to [your clients]. Most times they'll come up with their own decisions," Evers said. "You don't have to come up with the answer, just talk them through the process and talk them through what they need to do."
Some accountants say they'd like to drop a bit of work so they can engage with clients on a deeper level, but they have trouble letting go, Solomon said. It took Evers about four months before he got over that hesitancy.
"I realized I could do pretty much whatever I wanted, and the only one stopping me from doing that was me," Evers reflected. "Just do it – like Nike – and don't be afraid."
About the author:
Alexandra DeFelice is senior manager of communication and program development for Moore Stephens North America, and a regional member of Moore Stephens International Limited, a network of more than 360 accounting and consulting firms with nearly 650 offices in 100 countries. Alexandra can be reached at email@example.com.