Whether you are in growth-mode or not, accounting firms struggle with basic productivity issues and simply keeping pace with their colleagues and growing business needs of their clients.
We have found that they tend to benefit from hearing about what their colleagues went through and their shared success. As such, sales tax and compliance service provider Avalara produced a series of case studies of firms they have worked with that, like many, have had to overcome challenges with efficiency and updating technology in the right way.
Below is the next in a series of case studies we plan to run as part of our partnership with Avalara, as we have a shared belief in seeing the accounting profession move forward and address today’s business challenges in order to face tomorrow. These interviews were conducted by Jeremy Korst, CMO of Avalara.
He recently spoke with Jason Blumer, CPA and founder of Thriveal which supports owners of CPA firms in becoming more entrepreneurial, learning how to become better leaders and innovators and how to position their firms for success.
As part of this discussion, Blumer details how firms need to manage change and overall firm growth while maintaining their core vision of exceptional client service
Korst: What trends do you see in the accounting space?
Blumer: Firms are moving to a higher level of service with a specialized focus. Some of the more innovative firms hone in on a specialized niche and become more focused with even narrower and deeper knowledge, such as CPAs who support compliance for eCommerce/Amazon sellers.
Korst: What is the owner’s role in leading such a change?
Blumer: Moving to a service- and subscription-based model imposes new challenges. You are going to see yourself giving up the accounting work in favor of focusing on strategy, hiring, and leadership. You must convince people to sign up for your services, and you may not be used to that. It can be scary, but the firm will change as you change.
Korst: What’s the impact on clients?
Blumer: Changing a business model is easier with newer clients than with legacy clients, so you need to assess your client base to understand if your legacy clients will go along with the change. Use your existing base to test out your new pricing and billing models — you may not get it right the first time. Remember, experimentation can be disruptive but it’s necessary for change.
Korst: How do you start the transition?
Blumer: Start by committing to a technology stack — five or six integrated pieces of software that become the basis for your entire service line. Committing to this limited stack creates the ability to develop deep training for and deliver better knowledge to the team.
Korst: How do you get staff on board?
Blumer: Once you find your formula, formalize it. Growing a firm almost always happens on top of processes that can be handed down from the top for other people to routinely execute.
Korst: What does success look like?
Blumer: No matter the size of the firm, it always comes down to the basics: Have a methodology and measure your progress against it. Reporting on key performance indicators (KPIs) is important to measuring your success, even as a small firm.
About Jeremy Korst
Jeremy Korst is Chief Marketing Officer at Avalara.