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Article/blog submission: Northern Chapter VSCPA
Submitted by: Ira Rosenbloom, Optimum Strategies
Date: 7/16/20

Ask the Right Questions to Learn and Grow from COVID-19
        CPA firms, like all businesses, will be impacted by the reach of COVID-19 for quite some time. There will also be lessons we can learn to affect our future in the near term, long term—and maybe forever!
        To learn properly, we often need to ask ourselves questions, and then decide if the answers are at hand, good enough or worth further investigation.

Here are 20 questions that can help your firm create a lesson plan to shape your future:
  1. Are your “A” clients going to need to be defined differently?
  2. Should your pricing model change so that ultimately you are working with fewer clients and enjoying the same revenue or more?
  3. What kind of software and technology budget do you need to set to be more comfortable servicing clients who now like remote conditions?
  4. What modifications need to be made to your client acceptance criteria?
  5. Do you have a method for receiving quality feedback and impressions from clients?
  6. Should you have a client code of conduct? How much of it should include financial ground rules?
  7. What should the physical layout and locations for your offices be?
  8. How should you market differently? How will you be able to reduce marketing costs and improve ROI?
  9. Should you explore alternative compensation systems and new incentives for team members?
  10. What soft skills need to be revisited and how will they impact the progress and development of your personnel?
  11. What engagement and workflow tools need to be added and how quickly?
  12. What skills are vital for your support team and how much nimbleness versus specialization is necessary?
  13. Will offshoring and outsourcing be next?
  14. Should there be an acceleration of plans to merge, sell or acquire?
  15. How should partner compensation change?
  16. Is there a better way to handle and plan for partner retirements?
  17. How can you best assess the quality and sustainability of COIs?
  18. What kind of financial discipline improvements need to be introduced?
  19. What listening skills are going to be more important?
  20. Do you need a new business model that will attract more future leaders?
The answers and the priorities that you select from the list above should allow you to set the bar high. COVID-19 has forced us all to reach higher and adapt, which is vitally important for your long term business sustainability. Sometimes you need to prove to yourself you can adapt and improve—even in the most difficult of circumstances. By doing so, you can put yourself, your team, your clients and your firm in the best light.

Optimum Strategies, LLC | P.O. Box 962 | Spring House, PA 19477
215-694-8084 |
Northern Chapter VSCPA Blog Submission (Page Eastman)
Author: Ira Rosenbloom, Chief Operating Executive, Optimum Strategies, LLC
Contact: (or
January 17, 2020
The Lessons of Tax Season and What They Mean to the Year-Round Success of Your Firm
Every accounting firm is put to the test during tax season. Some will perform better than others, but—no matter the performance—there are many lessons to be learned. Be alert and ask the right questions, such as the 10 questions below, to learn how you can improve and what the impact will be for tax season and beyond.
  1. Are you getting the right performance from your administrative group? Are there tasks they are not being asked to do that they should? Would there be a benefit in upgrading the job descriptions of your administrative personnel and adding (or changing) a firm administrator?
  2. How versatile are your operations personnel? Not enough is stated about the impact that having multi-faceted operational people will have on productivity, job satisfaction and profitability. Operations team members who are cross-trained, billable, project-based and client-tasked will make your business run better and take some angst off of staffing and succession.
  3. How do you spot heroes and recognize their contribution? Having standards of performance—whether production revenues, number of jobs completed, turnaround time, new ideas or client satisfaction—allows you to recognize top performers and pay tribute to their heroics.
  4. What criteria do clients use to judge firm satisfaction? Service businesses must know how to meet and exceed expectations. Successful businesses are not all things to all people; they provide the right things to the right people.
  5. What motivates staff to go above and beyond? Check-ins to understand the mindset and priorities of staff and partners will create prioritized achievement and valued results.
  6. Where are we excelling and how can we do more of it? Success stories should be broadcasted internally and externally. The details of the success should be a teaching mechanism.
  7. How strong is the inbound referral flow from existing clients? Clients pay a lot of attention to you during tax season. Don’t pass up the opportunity to ask for referrals and to update the referral source on the effects of the referral. Build the opportunity pipeline for year-round revenue and get clients accustomed to referring.
  8. How do we demonstrate real team work? Use huddles to announce who needs help and who is ready to help. Applaud the team players and find ways to put non-traditional players on the client-service playing field.
  9. Are we tracking shortcomings? Maintain logs to note what and how to improve. Update logs several times a week.
  10. Are internal communications effective? Create a format to share information which minimizes time for meetings yet allows structured and sound interactions. Test the delivery system with fun rewards and questions and then replicate during the year.
For all of the time and challenges that come with tax season, you should get maximum return on your efforts. Be alert to the conditions in your practice—including the meaningful metrics—and you will be well on your way to building the kind of business you deserve.  Good luck with crunch time!