Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Align Learning With Firm Strategy

For the third year in a row PwC was rated #1 on the Training Top 125 list. Next year the firm will join Deloitte and Ernst & Young in the Training Hall of Fame. While local CPA firms cannot rival the resources and training/learning budgets of the Big 4 there are lessons to be learned about how your firm can become a learning organization. Most importantly, align learning with your firm's strategy. Tom Evans, PwC's Chief Learning Officer, when asked about the future of learning at PwC, said, "… much of our investment will be in training that focuses on business acumen; pursuit management; effective client interactions and communication; and building high-value, trust-based relationships – in other words, training that is linked to enabling our partners, managers, and people to grow the business.”


Learn more by attending the Seven Keys CPA webinar, "Building a Learning Organization:The Keys to Becoming More Agile, Adaptable and Nimble for Competitive Success in 2011:"


November 11, 2010
1:00-2:00 p.m. Eastern
$89 per connection
Register today!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Creating Persuasive Business Proposals

Competition is more fierce than ever. CPAs need to learn how to compete on value rather than price. How do you create a persuasive business proposal to help you win new business?

Get the answers by attending this Capstone Sales Series webinar, presented by Tom Sant. Tom is the author of the best-selling Persuasive Business Proposals and has been called “America’s foremost practitioner of proposal writing." He was also named one of the top 10 sales trainers in the world by Selling Power magazine. In his session, he will explain and illustrate:

• The difference between information and persuasion.
• The seven vital questions you must answer to create a client-centered proposal.
• How to differentiate your services in a commoditized market.
• How to create a compelling value proposition.
• Effective ways to follow up your proposal to win the business.


For a preview of the wisdom Tom will share during this webinar check out the CPA Insider article Three Ways to Win More New Business.

Register for the Creating Persuasive Business Proposals webinar today!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

2010 Best Accounting Firms to Work For

Congratulations to the 100 accounting firms that have been honored as the 2010 Best Accounting Firms to Work For in the third annual program created by Accounting Today and Best Companies Group. Recent dialogue and posts have questioned the importance of creating a great place to work. These firms, listed in alphabetical order, recognize the value in retaining employees and creating a culture where employees can thrive. Nice job!

Anchin Block & Anchin LLP
Anglin Reichmann Snellgrove & Armstrong
Anton Collins Mitchell LLP
Averett Warmus Durkee
Bader Martin, P.S.
Baker Newman Noyes
Barfield, Murphy, Shank & Smith, PC
Bartlett, Pringle & Wolf, LLP
Bartolomei Pucciarelli, LLC
BeachFleischman PC
Berlin, Ramos & Company, P.A.
Berntson Porter & Company, PLLC
Biscotti, Toback & Company, CPA's, P.C.
Blue & Co., LLC
Bond Beebe Accountants and Advisors
Boyer & Ritter, CPAs and Consultants
Brown Schultz Sheridan & Fritz
Brown Smith Wallace LLC
Burr Pilger Mayer, Inc.
Citrin Cooperman
Clark Nuber
Cohen & Company
Coulter & Justus, P.C.
Covenant Consulting Group LLC
Cowan Bolduc Doherty LLC
Daszkal Bolton LLP
Deemer Dana & Froehle LLP
DeLeon & Stang CPAs & Advisors
DiSanto, Priest & Co.
Dixon Hughes PLLC
Dunton & Associates, LLC
E. Cohen and Company, CPAs
Edelstein & Company LLP
Ennis Pellum & Associates, CPAs
Fesnak and Associates LLP
Fulcrum Inquiry
GALLINA LLP
Ganze & Company
Garcia, Espinosa, Miyares, & Co. LLP
GBH CPAs, PC
Hancock Askew & Co., LLP
Hemming Morse, Inc.
Hertzbach & Company, P.A.
Homes, Lowry, Horn & Johnson, Ltd.
Howard, Wershbale & Co.
Hoyman Dobson
Hughes Pittman & Gupton, LLP
Hungerford, Aldrin, Nichols & Carter, PC
Isdaner & Company, LLC
Johanson & Yau Accountancy Corporation
Johnson Jacobson Wilcox
Kahn, Litwin, Renza & Co., Ltd.
KatzAbosch
Kaufman, Rossin & Co.
Kearney & Company
Kolb+Co. SC
KraftCPAs PLLC
Kreinces Rollins & Shanker, LLC
Lanigan, Ryan, Malcolm & Doyle, P.C.
LaPorte Sehrt Romig Hand
Layton Layton & Tobler LLP
LMGW Certified Public Accountants, LLP
Lumsden & McCormick, LLP
Mahoney Ulbrich Christiansen & Russ PA
Mark Bailey & Company
Martin Starnes & Associates, CPAs, P.A.
May & Company, LLP
Montgomery Coscia Greilich LLP
Onisko & Scholz, LLP Certified Public Accountants
Pannell Kerr Forster of Texas, P.C.
Payne, Nickles & Company
Pender Newkirk & Company
Petrinovich Pugh & Co, LLP
Pittman & Brooks, P.C.
Porter Keadle Moore, LLP
PSK LLP
RBZ, LLP
RINA Accountancy Corporation
Riney Hancock CPAs PSC
Rodman & Rodman, P.C.
Sample and Bailey CPAs
SGA GROUP, PC
Sikich LLP
SingerLewak
Sisterson & Co. LLP
Smith Leonard PLLC
Squire
Swindoll, Janzen, Hawk & Loyd, LLC
The Bonadio Group
The Whitlock Company
ThomasYork, LLP
Wall, Einhorn & Chernitzer, P.C.
Walter & Shuffain, P.C.
Wessel & Company
WhippleWood CPAs, P.C.
Whitley Penn LLP
Wilkin & Guttenplan, P.C.
Williams Benator & Libby, LLP
Windham Brannon
WithumSmith+Brown, PC

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Four Approaches to Gaining Access to the C Suite

In today’s Capstone Sales Series webinar, Selling to the C Suite, Steve Bistritz reviewed four approaches to gain access to executives:

Implement an overt approach via the telephone or using a phone call, preceded by an email or letter.

Use a credible sponsor within the customer’s organization to help secure access.

Use a referral (someone outside the customer’s organization), such as a consultant, business associate or friend.

Treat the gatekeeper (administrative assistant, secretary or the like) as a resource and use them to help secure access.

Which of these approaches is the most effective? Bistritz’s research with corporate executives reveals that when considering a major purchase executives are Always (16%) and Usually (68%) likely to schedule a meeting with a salesperson if the request came from a recommendation from someone inside their company and Always (8%) and Usually (36%) likely to schedule that meeting if the request came from a referral outside the company.

This information drives home the importance of face-to-face marketing activities like networking, mixers with referral sources, participation in business and trade organizations, and referral source breakfasts/lunches. It also supports identifying the right prospects for your firm, conducting research about the company and its leaders, and determining who you know that can make the introduction. In this competitive time when every CPA firm is looking for new business this is information to live by.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Why Creating a Great Place to Work is More Important Than Ever

A discussion on the AAM LinkedIn Group has started about whether being recognized as a great place to work is a strategic business decision or just a fad. Read Rick Telberg's column in CPA Trendlines and weigh in on the topic.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Selling to the C Suite

The Capstone Sales Series continues on Wednesday, October 6, 2010, with Selling to the C Suite presented by Steve Bistritz, President, SellXL, and co-author of Selling to the C Suite. Attend this webinar and learn:

· How to understand what executives want.
· How to gain access to the right executives.
· Which sales techniques CEOs find most effective.
· How to use the face time with the prospect to your advantage.


Register today! The webinars will be held from 12:00-1:15 p.m. Eastern. The cost is $89 each, or use Coupon Code 15OFF to receive a 15% discount for the remaining two programs.

October 27, 2010 – Creating Persuasive Business Proposals
Presented by Tom Sant, Hyde Park Partners
Tom is the author of the best-selling Persuasive Business Proposals and has been called "America's foremost practitioner of proposal writing." He was also named one of the top 10 sales trainers in the world by Selling Power magazine. In his session, he will explain and illustrate:

  • The difference between information and persuasion.
  • The seven vital questions you must answer to create a client-centered proposal.
  • How to differentiate your services in a commoditized market.
  • How to create a compelling value proposition.
  • Effective ways to follow up your proposal to win the business.

Register today! The webinars will be held from 12:00-1:15 p.m. Eastern. The cost is $89 each, or use Coupon Code 15OFF to receive a 15% discount for the remaining two programs.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Katie Tolin: 2010 Marketer of the Year

Katie Tolin, marketing director for Rea & Associates, Inc., in New Philadelphia, Ohio, was honored as the 2010 Marketer of the Year at the Association for Accounting Marketing Annual Summit held in June 2010. The award is sponsored by CPA Practice Management Forum, a newsletter focusing exclusively on successful marketing strategies within CPA firms.

What does Katie think is the greatest challenge in marketing CPA firms? What is her prediction for accounting marketing for the next five years? What factors/skills enable accounting marketers to be successful? And, what is her best piece of advice for managing partners? Click here to listen to Capstone Marketing's interview.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Neil Fauerbach: 2010 AAM Hall of Fame Inductee

Neil Fauerbach, Partner and Director of Business Development & Marketing, Smith & Gesteland, was inducted into the Association for Accounting Marketing Hall of Fame at the 21st Annual AAM Summit in Washington, DC. What factors does Neil think enables accounting marketers to be successful? What is the biggest change he has noticed in accounting marketing over the past 10 years? What is his best piece of advice for accounting marketers? For managing partners? Click here to listen to Capstone Marketing's interview.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Three Steps to Sales Success

You are looking for new business and the competition is fierce. The Capstone Sales Series of webinars will guide you through the sales process from finding the right prospects to gaining access to the right executives to creating a persuasive business proposal that will help you win the business. The webinars will be held from 12:00-1:15 p.m. Eastern. Cost is $89 each, or $225 for the Series. Use the Capstone Sales Series for Lunch & Learn programs for your firm! Register today!

Step 1:
September 22, 2010 – Finding the Right Prospects
Jean Caragher, Capstone Marketing

You aren’t satisfied with the prospects in your pipeline – or you’re starting from square one and need to create a pipeline of prospective clients. Attend this webinar presented by accounting marketing veteran, Jean Caragher, and learn:

· How to determine the best prospects for your firm.
· How to find the best prospects for your firm.
· About the resources available to build your prospect list.
· How to cultivate leads from clients and referral sources.
· About marketing activities that generate leads.

Step 2:
October 6, 2010 – Selling to the C Suite
Steve Bistritz, President, SellXL

You’ve created your list of prospects. Now, how do you get in front of them? Attend this webinar presented by Steve Bistritz, co-author of Selling to the C Suite, with four decades of sales management and training experience, and learn:

· How to understand what executives want.
· How to gain access to the right executives.
· Which sales techniques CEOs find most effective.
· How to use the face time with the prospect to your advantage.

Step 3:
October 27, 2010 – Creating Persuasive Business Proposals
Tom Sant, Hyde Park Partners

You’ve created your list of prospects and you’ve met with one or more of them. Now, how do you create a persuasive business proposal to help you win the business?

Get the answers by attending this webinar, presented by Tom Sant. Tom is the author of the best-selling Persuasive Business Proposals and has been called “America’s foremost practitioner of proposal writing." He was also named one of the top 10 sales trainers in the world by Selling Power magazine. In his session, he will explain and illustrate:

• The difference between information and persuasion.
• The seven vital questions you must answer to create a client-centered proposal.
• How to differentiate your services in a commoditized market.
• How to create a compelling value proposition.
• Effective ways to follow up your proposal to win the business.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Free Seven Keys CPA Executive Summary Now Available!

Download the Seven Keys to Successful CPA Firm Management Executive Summary today.

The Seven Keys to Successful CPA Firm Management is based on research conducted over the past two years including thousands of survey responses and interviews with leading authorities. Our research identifies the best practices and common characteristics that separate the competitively successful firms from the not-so-successful. We're calling them 'The Leaders vs. The Laggards.‘

The Seven Keys are:

1. Leadership and Management
2. Technology Trends
3. Marketing and Business Development
4. Client Service and Satisfaction
5. Creating a Great Place to Work
6. Building the Learning Organization
7. Strategy Execution

For more information contact Jean Caragher, jcaragher@capstonemarketing.com or Rick Telberg, rtelberg@baystreetgroup.com.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Accountants Got Talent Contest - Deadline Sept 3!

Next Generation Consulting and Accounting Tomorrow are hosting an "Accountants Got Talent" video contest ... this is the chance for you to show your stuff! Prizes include two roundtrip tickets to Las Vegas and a free registration to the Winning Is Everything Conference and more! Log on to see some of the video submissions to date, and then post your own entry!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

ACT! to Integrate with Outlook

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) is a complicated issue for many CPA firms. If your firm currently uses ACT! to manage its client, referral source, and prospect databases and contact management good news may be on the way. You can now integrate your Sage ACT! and Outlook contacts, plus keep your calendars in sync.

Sync your existing Sage ACT! contacts with what you keep in Outlook. It doesn’t matter where your contacts were created or changed, everything will be kept updated in both places. And, you have the option to control which contacts are synced back and forth.

Keep your busy schedule updated in both places, no matter where you add or modify activities and meetings. Sage ACT! will help you cut back on meeting conflicts with rules that handle them automatically. And, you can choose which activity types in Sage ACT! sync back to Outlook so that your Outlook calendar remains free of your Sage ACT! to-dos.

Sage is offering weekly live webcasts:

What’s New in Sage ACT! 2011
Dates: Every Wednesday
Time: 12:00 PDT / 3:00 EDT
Register

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Signs of Economic Rebound? CPAs Boost Marketing Efforts in Battle for New Clients

Aiming to take advantage of new opportunities and to make up for lost time, tax and accounting firms are poised to significantly accelerate their spending on marketing and new business development this year, according to a new survey for "The Seven Keys to Successful CPA Firm Management" practice improvement program.

Some 27% of accountants surveyed say they plan to "increase significantly" their marketing activities over the next year, about twice the number who did so over the past year, Seven Keys CPA reports.

The topline results of the survey are free to the participants and detailed analyses and recommendations are scheduled to be unveiled in a one-hour webinar,

"Marketing + Biz Dev: Trends and Strategies 2010"
Thursday, August 12, 2010
1:00-2:00 p.m. Eastern

Register today!

"The survey shows a new sense of urgency and importance in new business development that had lapsed with the economic slump," said Jean Caragher, president of Capstone Marketing, which, with Bay Street Group LLC, jointly produces the Seven Keys CPA program. "Firms are redoubling their efforts to win new clients, retain old clients and build revenue."

In addition to the 27% of accountants "significantly" ramping up marketing this year, 50% will "increase somewhat," 11% report "no change," 2% will "decrease somewhat," and another 2% will "decrease significantly" their marketing activities over the next year.

For the past year -- in addition to the 15% who said they had "increased significantly their marketing activities -- 50% said they had "somewhat" accelerated their marketing over the previous year, 28% reported no change, 4% reported " decreased somewhat," and 2% reported "decreased significantly."

"CPA firms are battling for business with both barrels," said Rick Telberg, CEO of Bay Street Group LLC. "They're showing a renewed competitiveness and confidence."

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

See You on Facebook: CPA Firms Surge into Digital Marketing

Tax and accounting firms are rapidly adopting digital and online marketing strategies as traditional business development activities fall by the wayside, according to research conducted for "The Seven Keys to Successful CPA Firm Management" practice improvement program.

For the first time ever, a majority of CPAs report that over the next year their marketing plans will be emphasizing digital initiatives, such as website development, email newsletters and social media.

"To be sure, personal networking remains the top business-getting activity for tax and accounting firms," said Jean Caragher, president of Capstone Marketing, which, with Bay Street Group LLC, produces the Seven Keys CPA practice improvement program. "But now they are increasingly taking those in-person networking activities online."

The topline results of the survey are free to the participants and detailed analyses and recommendations are scheduled to be unveiled in a one-hour webinar:

"Marketing + Biz Dev: Trends and Strategies 2010"
Thursday, August 12, 2010
1:00-2:00 p.m. Eastern

Accounting firm executives, managers, and marketers can register here.


According to the survey, the top five marketing tactics CPA firms will be pouring new resources into are:

1. Networking with prospects and referral sources (69%)
2. Upgrading the firm's website (55%)
3. E-newsletters (53%)
4. Thought leadership (blogging, publishing articles, speaking engagements, white papers) (49%)
5. Social media (LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc.) (47%)

"Clearly, the tide has turned toward digital," said Rick Telberg, CEO of Bay Street Group LLC. "I think it's safe to say yellow page advertising is dead. The internet is taking over."

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

60 Ideas in 60 Minutes

60 Ideas in 60 Minutes, the closing session at this year's Association for Accounting Marketing Summit, tripled its goal and generated 180+ ideas learned during the conference and through real life experiences. What I've learned so far is that I participate in an industry with colleagues who are more than willing to share ideas and best practices that help make me a more effective consultant and marketer.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Auditing Your Auditor: Marketing Implications



video



“Auditing Your Auditor” is the cover story of the April 2010 issue of CFO, highlighting examples of fee negotiations and audit fee benchmarking opportunities for CFOs. Pressured to reduce costs CFOs are examining all budget items, including audit fees. However, CFOs should not be seeking the lowball fee for fear of being underaudited.

What are the marketing implications from “Auditing Your Auditor?”


Client loyalty isn’t what it used to be. As sited in the CFO article OSG switched to PwC in 2009 after 40 years with Ernst & Young, and its $2 million audit fee dropped by a third. Ensure client satisfaction with a formal client satisfaction program, which the majority of CPA firms are not doing.

Help your clients to operate more efficiently. This will enable you to offer a more competitive fee since you will be doing less work.

Be sure that your clients receive attention from partners and managers. Make your clients feel important. Be proactive with information and advice.

Provide your team with adequate training in order to run the audit at optimum efficiency, and reduce risk.

Consider negotiating additional services within the audit fee. The client will feel like they are getting more bang for their buck.

Analyze your firm’s new and lost clients, lost proposals, and the current client fee negotiations from the past two years. Who were the prior auditors of your new clients? Which firms did your lost clients and prospects select? What impact has fee negotiations had on your firm’s revenue? This information will enable you to price future engagements more competitively.

The editorial team of CFO provides CFOs a way to benchmark audit fees against what their peers paid, over a three-year period. For more information go to
www.cfo.com/fees.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Bull's-Eye! The Ultimate How-To Marketing & Sales Guide for CPAs



Sponsored by the Association for Accounting Marketing and PCPS
Edited by Tracy Crevar Warren

Whether your firm is getting back into the full swing of marketing and you are looking for some new ideas to jumpstart your sales efforts, or you are getting serious about business development for the first time, this book is designed for you.& Its purpose is to inspire, teach, and provide you with practical insight to help build results-oriented marketing and sales programs in your organization.

Bull’s-Eye is a collaboration of 37 of the industry’s most successful marketing and sales minds. Collectively these gifted professionals have served as pioneering practitioners inside the profession, and as outside advisors and thought leaders for hundreds, even thousands of CPAs and their firms. They give you an insider’s view of what it takes to build marketing initiatives that produce results. Through the principles, best practices and case studies shared in the book, you can see success doesn’t happen by chance, but through careful planning, development, and implementation of well-designed processes, systems, and tools. This compendium of marketing know-how shows you how to build your marketing team, implement marketing techniques that get you noticed, connect the dots between marketing and sales, measure results, and much, much more.

Attention 2010 AAM Summit Attendees: Drawings will be held for you to receive free copies of the book and you can sign up onsite to receive a 20% discount!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Facebook Privacy Settings

The June 2010 issue of Journal of Accountancy includes a very helpful article by J. Carlton Collins, "Fortify Your Facebook Privacy Settings." It provides step-by-step instructions for creating lists of friends, hiding friends from non-friends, blocking third-party Facebook applications, protecting yourself from networks and Facebook advertisers, preventing photo/video tag mistakes, and more.

You may also want to check out Facebook's Privacy Guide for more information.

What I've learned so far is that social media is blurring the lines between our professional and personal lives. Be informed and take action to protect your reputation and personal brand.

Monday, May 31, 2010

2010 Seven Keys Webinar Series




video


The 2010 Seven Keys to Successful CPA Firm Management Webinar Series begins on Thursday, June 10, 1:00-2:00 p.m. Eastern with "Leadership and Management: New Rules for the New Normal." Register today and learn more about the Seven Keys:

  • Leadership and Management

  • Technology Trends

  • Marketing and Business Development

  • Client Service and Satisfaction

  • Creating a Great Place to Work

  • Building the Learning Organization

  • Strategy Execution

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Social Media Marketing GPS

Social Media Marketing GPS, written by Toby Bloomberg, Bloomberg Marketing, is the first business book written on - not about - Twitter. Tweet interviews with 40 prominent social media marketers including people from Dell, Comcast, Marketing Profs, BlogHer. 12 chapters take you from the importance of social media to ethics to the social enterprise, tactics, sponsored conversations, blogger relations with a few case studies.

"The goal was to create a comprehensive body of knowledge that could serve as a roadmap (GPS) for developing a strategic social media plan," explains Bloomberg. "My thoughts were if this could be accomplished in a series of 140 character tweets it might help ease the apprehension for people new to social media, while at the same time, providing a review and offering some interesting ideas for those more experienced."

Thursday, May 13, 2010

The Five Essential Elements of Wellbeing

To construct a comprehensive measure of individual wellbeing, Gallup designed an assessment composed of the best questions they have asked over the last 50 years. To create this assessment, the Wellbeing Finder, hundreds of questions were tested across countries, languages, and vastly different life situations.

Upon completion of the research, five distinct statistical factors emerged. These are the universal elements of wellbeing that differentiate a thriving life from one spent suffering. They describe aspects of our lives that we can do something about and that are important to people in every situation we studied.

The Elements
These elements are the currency of a life that matters. They do not include every nuance of what's important in life, but they do represent five broad categories that are essential to most people.


The first element is about how you occupy your time or simply liking what you do every day: your Career Wellbeing.

The second element is about having strong relationships and love in your life: your Social Wellbeing.

The third element is about effectively managing your economic life: your Financial Wellbeing.

The fourth element is about having good health and enough energy to get things done on a daily basis: your Physical Wellbeing.

The fifth element is about the sense of engagement you have with the area where you live: your Community Wellbeing.

While 66% of people are doing well in at least one of these areas, just 7% are thriving in all five. If we're struggling in any one of these domains, as most of us are, it damages our wellbeing and wears on our daily life. When we strengthen our wellbeing in any of these areas, we will have better days, months, and decades. But we're not getting the most out of our lives unless we're living effectively in all five.

Although these elements are universal across faiths, cultures, and nationalities, people take different paths to increasing their individual wellbeing. For many people, spirituality drives them in all these areas. Their faith is the most important facet of their lives, and it is the foundation of their daily efforts. For others, a deep mission, such as protecting the environment, inspires them each day. While the things that motivate us differ greatly from one person to the next, the outcomes do not.

To learn more read Well Being by Tom Rath (author of How Full is Your Bucket?) and Jim Harter, Ph.D. (co-author of 12: The Elements of Great Managing).

Friday, May 7, 2010

7 Key Steps to Turning Your Big Idea Into a Big Success

In an article for MarketingProfs Mike Sprouse, chief marketing officer of Epic Advertising, provides seven key steps to turn your big idea into a big success. As you create your firm's marketing programs consider these seven steps:
  1. Figure out what makes you tick, what makes you passionate about your career, or what you see in your industry that you really enjoy and think you can add value to.
  2. Create a business plan. It should go beyond the necessary dollars-and-cents analysis and include a how your idea will benefit your company, your job, and your target audiences.
  3. Figure out the "who"—who else in your company or industry might share your passions and ideas. Develop a "who's on board" list of people who might be willing to help bring your idea to market.
  4. Once you have people on board, figure out—with them—the "how," or the process via which you'll make your idea a success.
  5. Establish key goals or benchmarks—two or three short-term targets and one long-term target.
  6. Finally, when you're ready, figure out how you will tell your story to people who may be interested. If your idea is a good one, then it is your responsibility to share it with them.
  7. Have fun. When ideas or projects cease being fun, the passion dries up and, typically, the end product suffers.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Unmade Beds and Dryer Sheets

I do my share of traveling to clients, speaking engagements, and conferences. Since I'm always looking for stories that I can incorporate into my consulting I pay particular attention to the level of client service that I receive from the airlines, rental car companies, and hotels. Let me share with you the spectrum of service I received on a couple of recent trips.

I checked into a newly opened hotel. The doorman and the personnel at check-in were friendly and welcoming. However, when I got to my room I found that the bed wasn't made - the room hadn't been cleaned! I went back to the check-in desk, explained what happened, and the gentleman said, "That's the second time that's happened tonight." Not the response I was looking for but I got a new room (that had been cleaned) and a free bottle of water.

I checked into an established hotel for a friend's wedding. All personnel were extremely professional and polite. Every employee looked for ways to be helpful. A client service culture was evident. As I got ready for the wedding I noticed that my wool dress was full of static, not good to have your dress clinging to you especially with the dancing I was planning to do. I called housekeeping to see if they had Static Guard. No Static Guard. I tried water. No luck. Then, a knock on the door. Housekeeping brought me several dryer sheets, the sheets used in the dryer to prevent static cling. I rubbed the dryer sheets on my dress and slip, and presto! No static cling! Problem solved by a very creative, caring member of the housekeeping staff.

What I've learned so far is that in these competitive times all of us need to pay attention to the level of service we provide our clients, whether we're operating a hotel, a rental car company, a consulting business, or a CPA firm.

Here are a few tips for my CPA firm colleagues to keep in mind during your busiest time of the year:

- Work as a team and communicate, communicate, communicate!
- Proofread and check your work in order to catch mistakes. Be sure clients' names are spelled correctly and tax returns are sent to the correct address.
- Pay attention to the presentation of client financial statements and tax returns. It is part of your brand.
- Pay attention to your personal image and how clients perceive you. This includes how you are dressed, arriving on time, how you shake hands, the types of questions you ask and how you respond to client questions.
- Resolve problems quickly. Problems won't go away by ignoring them.
- Remember to say “thank you” to clients.

Friday, January 22, 2010

The 3 Facebook Settings Every User Should Check Now

All of us are concerned about privacy, particularly in the social media world we live in today. In December 2009 Facebook announced changes regarding new privacy controls for information sharing. If you opted for Facebook's recommended settings you may now be surprised to find that you inadvertently gave Facebook the right to publicize your private information including status updates, photos, and shared links. Be sure to read The 3 Facebook Settings Every User Should Check Now at The New York Times online today.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

The Latest on IRC 7216

On December 30, 2009 the IRS issued two revenue rulings (Rev. Ruls. 2010-4 and 2010-5) that provide guidance to tax return preparers on situations in which they will not be liable for civil or criminal penalties under IRC 7216 for disclosing or using tax return information.

IRC 7216 prohibits a tax return preparer from “knowingly or recklessly” disclosing or using tax return information. A violation could result in a preparer’s being charged with a criminal misdemeanor involving a maximum penalty of $1,000 or one year in prison, or both, plus costs of prosecution.

Read more at Journal of Accountancy and this website.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Top 12 Ways to Keep Your New Year's Resolution

The New Year prompts many of us to create resolutions, promises to start, stop, or change something that we think will make our lives better. Success requires follow up. Executive coach and change agent M.J. Ryan offers the Top 12 Ways to Keep Your New Year's Resolution:
  1. Make it non-negotiable.
  2. Plan for the usual excuses.
  3. Make it actionable.
  4. Be accountable.
  5. Make a budget.
  6. Set deadlines.
  7. Put it on the schedule.
  8. Do something every day/week/month.
  9. Monitor progress regularly.
  10. Celebrate successes.
  11. Re-assess strategy.
  12. Repeat.

For more ideas and advice consider attending the last in the series of seven webinars on The Seven Keys to Successful CPA Firm Management, Strategy Execution, by Capstone Marketing and the Bay Street Group LLC, January 12, 2010, 1:00-2:00 p.m. Eastern, $79.

Happy New Year!