Be the McDonald’s of Professional Service
The Progressive Accountant
You run a professional services firm, perhaps an accounting firm. You have a wide variety of clients with a wide variety of needs, but the services you offer are relatively standardized. You provide tax return preparation, bookkeeping and financial statements.
What’s not standardized is how you approach each client need, and how you work with each client. You treat each engagement as a one-off, dealing with the client (and the client information) in a manner that suits the client at that time. While this sounds like a great approach, lending itself to a high level of personalization, the underlying result is inefficiency, lack of standards, and a very limited ability to improve your internal profitability.
What you need is a machine – to be the McDonald’s of professional services – delivering consistent and predictable service to your client community. Your service quality doesn’t have to be in the realm of “fast food”, but the point is that you should be using a standards-based approach and applying the same tools and methods to each engagement in a consistent and repeatable manner. You’ll rapidly find that a great many of your clients will eagerly adapt, and begin to embrace and take advantage of the tools you provide to them. For your firm, the result is more predictable performance and increased profitability.
As an example, let’s say that your firm is “tooled up” to provide services using Internet or cloud services. You have a client portal where you can store and share files with clients, and you have mechanisms for securely emailing files and documents to clients as well. Your goal is to get your clients to use the online portal to exchange information with your firm, enabling somewhat of a “self service” model. But many of your clients won’t log in to the portal, and require you to use email to send/receive files and information.
The right approach here is to use the portal no matter what. This is a key element to the success of your overall approach –the strength of your standardized processes. And it’s important to remember that it isn’t a process if you don’t do it the same way every time. Even if your clients don’t use the portal for data exchange, you should still encourage it and put the documents there. Now, you’ll still likely do the email thing – it’s always a good idea to have at least two paths of communication. But if you consistently use the portal as a standard method of making data available for your clients, many of those non-portal users may become users simply because they find that the convenience of any time/anywhere access really works for them. Sometimes it takes letting folks get used to things, but once they do, it becomes second nature and almost an expectation. Once these clients have adopted your standard portal approach, what else can you introduce to them to improve efficiency and effectiveness of the engagement?
You need to help make your firm as efficient and profitable as possible, and to have a quality product (or service) produced every time. Henry Ford’s assembly line is where you start. Create the machine that is the operational level of your business, and establish the tools and standards that will allow for sustainable growth and success.
Read more about Data Warriors: Accountants in the Cloud
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Article originally published via The Progressive Accountant