A Modern Approach to Running Your Accounting Firm
Many accounting firms aren’t taking advantage of modern technologies and approaches that can help their firms run more efficiently. In the digital age, paper can be a thing of the past and many firms can run their businesses remotely without the costly overhead of renting a traditional office space.
Furthermore, having a large staff and fancy office don’t need to be metrics for success. This is an outdated approach and what really matters for a successful firm are customer satisfaction, team happiness, and a healthy bottom line.
Let’s take a look at what technologies and approaches you can use to bring your accounting firm into the modern age, and how this new way of thinking about your firm leads to greater efficiency and more growth.
Your Online Reputation is More Important Than an Office Space
In today’s age, the internet is your storefront.
When clients first search for your firm, they’re not looking to see how much office space you have or what the interior looks like. They’re looking to see whether your accounting services are a good fit for them. They want to come across an engaging website that tells them what you do and how you bring value to people like themselves. You could have the best office space in your region, but if your online presence is lacking, you will fall behind the competition.
As someone whose business serves hundreds of clients, I can attest to the fact that we have never lost a client due to not having a physical office space. Some people may argue that not having an office to host in-person meetings lacks professionalism, but there’s no evidence pointing to that. By holding meetings online through platforms like Skype or Zoom, you still get face to face interaction while providing an added layer of convenience for the client and yourself. There is no travel time needed which makes finding an appropriate meeting time much easier. I’ve found that prospects actually appreciate the fact that they don’t need to schedule travel time and an in-person meeting into their schedule. When they find out we can have an effective 15-minutes phone conversation, they are usually thrilled!
By not being attached to a physical space, you also can increase your firm’s reach. You are able to serve clients in multiple states or countries because your operations are based online instead of specific to one location.
Additionally, by not having the overhead costs of renting an office space, you can save that money and invest it into other parts of your company. This leads to a healthier bottom line and gives you more resources to boost your online presence.
Digitizing Your Operations Increases Your Firm’s Efficiency and Collaboration
With platforms like Google Docs, Dropbox, and other cloud based storage solutions, firms have the opportunity to run a completely paperless business. There’s no need to have countless file cabinets anymore when everything can be digitized and put online for easy access.
When everything is organized online and easy to search for, all of your files are at your fingertips, which means no more digging around the office looking for important documents. It also makes it easy to share files and give designated team members permission to access the files they need instantly. All of which leads to increased efficiency for your firm.
Another key benefit of digitizing your operations is the increased collaboration abilities of your team. By using tools such as a shared email service, your team can stay up to date on the status of specific accounts or projects within one platform instead of having to contact each individual team member to stay in the loop. This also provides you with more transparency about the productivity of your team. You can see what work is being done, who is doing it, and how efficiently they are handling their tasks. These tools are especially crucial if your team works remotely.
Hiring a Remote Staff is a Great Option for Some Firms
Many firms are finding value in the increased flexibility and productivity that working remotely provides for their staff. For solo practitioners looking to expand and bring on employees, hiring remotely is a great way to get started without the need for a physical office. Or if you already have an established firm, you could try a hybrid model where you let your employees work from home once a week to see how their efficiency is affected.
Hiring remotely also expands your field of candidates to people outside of your location. But If meeting up with your team in-person is a high priority for you, you can hire remote workers in your city so these meet-ups are possible.
If you do decide to try hiring remote workers, be sure to hire slowly and fire quickly. Not everyone is hardworking or trustworthy enough for a remote work role. If someone is only interested in your job opening because it’s a work from home opportunity, you should probably write them off immediately. They’re not interested in contributing to your company — they just want the perks of working from home.
Ask your candidates if they have done remote work in the past and have them describe how they managed their day and how they stayed disciplined enough to do their work. If they do have remote work experience, ask for references within those companies to see if they did a good job handling the responsibility of working from home.
Also make sure you’re doing background checks because you don’t want an employee stealing your clients’ private and sensitive information. (Remember, this can happen in an office environment too.)
The Quality of Your Staff is More Important Than the Quantity
Many people have the misconception that in order for your firm to be successful, you need a large staff. But building an efficient firm doesn’t come from the number of employees — it comes from the quality of them. Having a small, highly intelligent team of “A” players gives you a strategic advantage, by letting you get more work done with less people to coordinate and manage.
Success with a small team all comes down to your staff’s ability to deliver real results for your clients. With the right processes in place, your team can accomplish more in less time, while maintaining a high level of performance. In addition to this consistent workflow, well defined processes give your clients insight into how you deliver your service. They know what to expect, and there’s no confusion about what working with your firm entails.
Set Your Accounting Firm Up For Success in the Modern Age
As we have seen, there are many tools and approaches your firm can implement in order to increase efficiency. You no longer need a huge staff or physical office space to deliver quality accounting services, and you are able to build a highly collaborative team by digitizing your operations.
It’s also possible to boost your team’s productivity by allowing them to work remotely. Some firms can succeed by being completely remote, whereas others might be better off taking a hybrid approach where their staff spends some time in the office and some time at home or at the local coffee shop.
There’s never been a better time to evolve your firm and take advantage of the many tools available in the modern age. In fact, if you don’t, you’re falling behind.