≡ Menu

HOW TO GET YOUR TEAM WORKING EFFECTIVELY

“Toto, I’ve got a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore.”

The Wizard of Oz (1939)

How do you get your team to change their ways and to recognise that the firm they work in is itself going through change?

Contrary to popular opinion, accountants are quite a progressive bunch. We like to introduce new ideas, systems and policies into our firms. We like to see our practices evolve and consequently we tend to be on the lookout for better ways of doing things. We’re in a good position to do this as we meet many people, see lots of businesses in action and stay up to scratch with our CPD.

As a consequence, we will introduce new measures to our team on a fairly regular basis…and this is where the problem starts.

We introduce a change to our staff with vigour and enthusiasm. The trouble is that the team have experienced such introductions before. Some changes have stayed the course but many have fallen by the wayside.

Sometimes this is because they have proved ineffective, on other occasions it’s simply that the management hasn’t followed the change through to full adoption. Either way, the team have heard it all before.

This leads to hesitancy in adoption. “Before I change my ways, let’s just hang fire a bit and see if this one sticks.” It’s a natural human precaution but frustrating to management.

If any change is to stick, if the team are to understand that they are no longer in Kansas, then a protocol needs to be followed.

1. The reason for the change must be fully explained and set in context. Where does it fit into the greater plan?

2. A timetable for its implementation needs to be set and made clear.

3. A review process must be built in and shared. Everyone needs to know what success looks like.

4. Responsibility for implementation needs to be set.

5. The team have to be part of the process, not just recipients of it.

6. Feedback must be welcomed and shared.

7. The benefits for the firm, team and clients have to be clear.

 

If your firm is evolving in your mind, then it must be clear in the minds of your team as well. They are not mind readers.

Where you see vision, your team see only chores if that vision is not shared. Help your team to be part of change, to embrace it and enhance it.

Does the name of your firm matter? It’s a question that I get asked a lot. Years ago it wasn’t an issue that accountants gave any time to; you called your firm after yourself, stuck your plaque on the wall and got on with business. But then, years ago, accountants didn’t really compete and didn’t feel the need to market. Maybe the world hasn’t changed but the needs of the accountant have.

 Let’s go back 500 years, to William Shakespeare and arguably his best-known work, Romeo and Juliet, and look at the words of its ill-fated heroine:

“’Tis but thy name that is my enemy;
Thou art thyself, though not a Montague.
What’s Montague? it is nor hand, nor foot, nor arm, nor face, nor any other part belonging to a man.

 O, be some other name!
What’s in a name? that which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet;
So Romeo would, were he not Romeo call’d, retain that dear perfection which he owes without that title. Romeo, doff thy name, and for that name which is no part of thee, take all myself.”

Juliet argues that it is the man that is important, not the name, that a rose would still smell as sweet whatever it was called. And yet the name, and all its connotations, cannot be ignored. Ultimately the impact of the name determines the  unfortunate fate of the most romantic of couples.

A name makes a statement. Most of us go through life with the name we are given. We were not part of the naming process but we live with the consequences.  Whether you are a James or a Justin, a Beverley or a Beyoncé, your name has been part of how people have perceived you, especially those who aren’t close to you. We live with the statements our name makes.

When it comes to our business, we have a choice. We are there at the naming. So we should consider what statements we want to make and what perceptions we want to influence.

Here’s a quick test. Imagine you are self-employed (not an accountant!) and you are looking to choose a firm of accountants for your business. Purely on their name, are you drawn towards:

A. Enterprise LLP

B. Ford & Jones Accountants

C. Jane L Smith Business Services Ltd

Which one would you think is the most expensive? Which one is more trustworthy? Which is more professional? Which one is more dynamic and which one would you think gives the best advice?

We asked 100 business owners those very same questions, based simply on the name. Here are the results:

75% thought (A) the most expensive followed by 25% (B). By default, everyone assumed (C) to be the cheapest.

75% thought that (B) looked the most trustworthy whilst 62% also saw them as the most professional.

An overwhelming 88% saw (A) as the most dynamic firm.

50% would expect (B) to give them the best advice.

Overall, 63% would pick Ford & Jones as their accountants, 25% would pick Enterprise LLP and 12% would pick Jane L Smith Business Services Ltd.

Now, we don’t claim that this is a scientific or exhaustive survey but the findings are interesting and tie in with work done in the US.

Using a ‘brand’ title, such as Enterprise, can be seen as more modern, corporate and dynamic.

Incorporating ’partner’ names, such as Ford and Jones, is seen as more traditional but boosts trust and professionalism.

Implying a sole practitioner, or an unqualified, such as Jane L Smith Business Services, impacts on price expectations.

The responses are, of course, purely speculative, a perception formed only by the name. We have no idea which firm is the best, the most expensive or the most trustworthy, but the name creates an impression that then makes attracting the client either harder or easier depending on who is being targeted.

If Jane L Smith Business Services aim to run a price-driven model seeking to be the cheapest firm in town, then they have just won 12% of the market without even trying. If they are a high-value, highly professional, top-end operation seeking high-level fees, then attracting the other 88% (and, indeed, avoiding the 12% who are price-driven) is made a whole lot harder by the name.

When it comes to naming your firm, you must think very carefully about who your target market is. What are the characteristics of your firm that you are seeking to highlight and what will best resonate with your market-place? What best describes who you are and what your business is?

Quality Accountants LLP and NoTax4U Ltd could both be highly successful firms, but only if they are attractive in the right market-place. The name is a step forward in the right sector and a significant barrier in the wrong one.

Whilst their target markets may be different, both of these firms have a significant strength in their name…they both say exactly what they do in the name. One is about quality, the other is all about getting the tax bill down. In the helter-skelter, Google-driven world we live in, making it obvious what you do and really easy for the right clients to find you has clear advantages.

There is no such thing as a wrong name, just a wrong name for a particular target market. In the right circumstances, Enterprise LLP, Ford & Jones Accountants and Jane L Smith Business Services Ltd are all good names:

Enterprise LLP for the corporate, more growth-orientated market;

Ford & Jones Accountants for those looking for a trustworthy, sound professional;

Jane L Smith Business Services Ltd or personal service and lower fees.

Remember though, that as well as attracting the right client, the  rest of the market may turn away. That could be no bad thing of course but needs to be considered.

So, think carefully about your target market, your fee levels and your firm’s image. Does your name support or hinder what you are trying to achieve? It could just be time for a change.

THE MYTHS OF WEBSITES

If you’re an ambitious accountant actively looking to grow your firm, your website should have one primary objective – To Generate Enquiries.
Unfortunately 99% of accountant’s websites aren’t set up to achieve this. Therefore results are almost always poor. The reality is that your website was set up to achieve one or more of the following…

  1. To look good
  2. To impress visitors
  3. To give visitors useful information (tax calculators, etc.)
  4. To make it easier for people to contact the firm
  5. To impress competitors

Notice none of these things focus on the most important reason for having a website – to help you get more good quality clients.

Proven formula for Accountants

This is not an art.  “It’s a science.

There is a Proven Formula for creating an Accountancy Website that sells. A website that generates a constant stream of enquiries.
A website that runs on autopilot.

In a couple of weeks, I’m running a live webinar to show you exactly how to do it. You definitely won’t want to miss it. Details will follow soon.

DOES YOUR WEBSITE SELL

Last year we conducted what was arguably the largest ever research study into accountants websites. In fact we surveyed over 5,000 of them! There were a couple of reasons for this (no it’s not because we’re masochists, although after going through this exercise I think we were!)…

First, we wanted to make sure we weren’t missing anything that would of course be of benefit to our members.

Second, we wanted to analyze each in terms of their ability to ‘SELL’. In other words, which sites actually moved the visitor to really want to arrange a meeting with the firm.

Not surprisingly none of the sites were doing anything special.

But perhaps more alarmingly, not one (that’s zero) of the sites were actually set up to act as a sales funnel and drive visitors into requesting a meeting. The results were fascinating and as a result we embarked on a crusade to create ‘The most effective website for accountants ever created ‘.

This involved literally hundreds of tests across a number of different variables. Some of the results were expected.

But a number of tests shocked us to the core. A few were quite frankly astonishing.

The outcome is ‘The Website Success Formula For Accountants’.

We’re currently putting together the material for a 75 minute (approx) live webinar to explain all about it and what you can do to get results for your own firm.

It should be ready within the next couple of weeks.

We’ll keep you posted.

DIFFERENTIATE YOUR FIRM FROM YOUR COMPETITORS

The quality of the communication between your firm and your clients is central to the success of your business. So why not introduce something that used to be standard business etiquette but has now dropped out of common practice…

the FOLLOW UP COURTESY CALL.

Follow up at every opportunity. Few firms do this so it will really make you stand out. Not only does it reassure the client of the quality of care that you are extending to them but it helps avoid the confusion and delays that always cost you money.

WORD OF MOUTH ADVERTISING & REFERRALS ARE NOT THE SAME

Word of Mouth advertising happens when one of your customers or friends mentions your small business in a casual conversation.

WORD OF MOUTH ADVERTISING

A referral system is a methodical process that you have
put in place to capture qualified prospects through your association with other people. A “system” is a “process that produces predictable results”.

Your business needs word of mouth advertising but don’t mistake that with developing a methodical system for referral prospecting.

Convert More Enquiries Into Clients!

This 2 Minute White Paper shows you how having a sales conversion system built into your business can transform your growth from a stop-start affair into an accelerating juggernaut! As you can see, ‘Sales Conversion’ is the third Practice Multiplier…

Many business owners (including accountants) spend a considerable amount of time energy and money to generate enquiries. However, there’s little point  having a brilliant enquiry generation system, using [click to continue…]

Generating More Enquiries From Your Marketing…

This White Paper explains how you can use general marketing approaches to get an avalanche of enquiries from potential clients.

As you can see, ‘General Marketing’ is the second Practice Multiplier…

“But Marketing Doesn’t Work”

In White Paper No. 2 I pointed out that only 7% of new clients come from non referral sources (General marketing), which means there is much more business to be gained by proactively targeting the right businesses using proven non referral techniques.

If you could generate the same amount (or more) of clients using general marketing techniques as you do with referral techniques – this would have a huge impact on your practice.

So why is it that accountants shy away from using general marketing methods? We’ve discovered a few reasons… [click to continue…]

How To Put Your Referrals On Auto-Pilot…

This White Paper explains why you need a referral system and how to implement an effective one.

As you can see, ‘Referral’ is the first Practice Multiplier… [click to continue…]

What’s Your Reception Got To Do With Marketing!?

Did you know you can spot a firm of accountants that ‘get’ it’ just by walking through their front door?

We visit over 50 firms every month. Very few pay attention to their reception area and what should be in it and what should be ‘out’.

Think about it from a potential client’s perspective…

Although there are a number of other ‘Moments Of Truth’
before they visit you for that first meeting, when they
walk through your front door, they will consciously and
sub-consciously be making judgments about you and your
firm even before they meet with you. These judgments
play a part in their decision-making process.

Do you really think they want to read the latest issue
of ‘Accountancy’ or flick through your latest budget
summary? In actual fact you shouldn’t be thinking at
all about what ‘they’ want to see or read.

You have to take a different view.

You have to ask yourself – what can I put in my
reception area that is going to help me get the sale?
That’s it. Nothing more. Nothing less.