A productive firm requires a stable foundation for its internal procedures, employee development and work tools. Having a well-developed plan will enable your practice to achieve its goals, now and in the future.
Respect Your Time (or No One Else Will)
The success of your business revolves around purposeful time management. Not only do you need to remain accessible to your clients, but you must also complete your projects on time. It is a good idea to designate specific days of the week for scheduling client and vendor meetings. Taking calls at irregular intervals will only lead to frustration and inefficient workflows, and can ultimately jeopardize your reputation for providing timely deliverables. Being able to stay focused on the task at hand is critical. There are a variety of online scheduling apps that can help, such as Calendly or Acuity Scheduling.
Be honest and direct with your client base about these protocols. If a client resists, it is a sign that he/she is probably not a good fit.
Fine Tune Your Client Selection Process (It can Make or Break You)
The client selection process helps to identify customers that are a match for your firm. The first step is to evaluate your industry strengths. Being well-versed in a particular trade can lead to growth opportunities in a niche that may frequently be overlooked but is ripe with clients who are eager to find qualified guidance. Next, you need to create a checklist of skills, personality traits and other characteristics that you would like to see in an ideal client. Do you want them to use a specific accounting software? Are you willing to take on a client who does not know how to operate a smartphone? Will you work with a client who is always in crisis mode or challenges you at every step? Selecting the right clients can take years of trial and error. Determine what’s important to you and where you are willing to invest your time, and then adhere to the established parameters.
Empower Your Staff (and Treat Them as You Would Want to be Treated)
Allow your team members to be involved in all aspects of your business, from voting on new clients to choosing marketing materials, and everything in between. Keeping your staff in the dark does not allow them to develop a personal attachment to your business, or share ideas or insights that may never have occurred to you. Retaining valuable staff members can only be achieved if you support them in all aspects, including continuing education, fringe benefits, work/life balance and client-staff relations. Offer a work environment that encourages them to become engaged and perform their tasks efficiently. Remember, a reliable and happy staff lets you meet your firm’s project deadlines.
Use Tech-Based Tools (and Don’t Skimp)
To offer a high-quality service, you need to utilize the best technology. Review your firm’s budget and make sure to allocate a proper portion to apps, software and equipment. Try to be a step ahead of the competition so that you don’t get left behind.
Eliminate tasks that offer little to no value, and devote your newfound time to profitable work. Replace obsolete equipment with faster products. Examine the automation occurring in our industry and come up with new service offerings that are not (yet) performed by a machine.
It’s important to set aside time to work on your business, rather than working exclusively in your business.
Editor’s note: Taking care of your staff is very important, according to Tom. For another perspective on helping your staff succeed, check out Debbie Ames’ article “4 Tips for Creating a Productive and Happy Work Environment.”