Are you breaking your accounting business because your systems are all in your head?
Your workflows can make or break your business, and a lack of clear workflows will undoubtedly break it.
When you set up clear workflows, onboarding new clients (and new team members) is seamless. Every piece falls into place without having to babysit the next step in the process. Clients feel nurtured. You don’t have to follow a paper trail. And there’s no question about who’s responsibility it is to complete which tasks.
Accountants and bookkeepers are notorious for having systems they follow. We’re number nerds, and number nerds are notorious for lists and checksheets. But we’re also known for keeping many tasks in our heads, instead of putting them down on paper or automating them.
Sure, you have a workflow for taking care of your clients’ books. But do you have a system for working with your clients?
Too often, that step is left off our radar because, well, numbers. We want to work with numbers. Not necessarily with people.
But people and clients are a hazard of business, and one we have to pay attention to—no matter how much we’d rather bury our heads in spreadsheets.
So what kind of systems do you need in place?
If your business is going to grow, you need to know where new clients come from and how they make decisions about their accounting. If they’re currently coming from referrals or in-person networking, you can’t count on this working forever! And once you’ve hooked them, you need to nurture those leads into buying from you. Because, let’s face it, you can’t expect someone to buy simply because they loved your blog about budgeting (even if it’s kick-butt!).
Establishing a system to manage leads includes finding a tool that works with your business and your bottom line. Also known as customer relationship management (CRM), these tools capture prospects’ email addresses and other vital information so you can follow up via email or phone. They will also help keep you top-of-mind as you nurture the prospects through email marketing and providing value.
Once a prospect becomes a customer, you’ll need an onboarding system—one that gathers all the data, passwords and paperwork you need from a new client. This can be a cumbersome, time-consuming project if you don’t have a clear workflow in place.
Think about it: The last time you brought on a new client, how many emails did it take to gather all the information you needed to start working? Too many to count? You shouldn’t have to send customized emails to every new client. Your onboarding system and workflow management software should take care of it all for you, so you can keep your attention on your current clients.
This is where most bookkeepers and CPAs excel—workflows for current clients. You know how to work through the books. You know when reminders need to go out for tax appointments. And you already have your monthly reconciliations on auto-pilot.
But what about when you bring a new team member on board? If you’re spending time meeting with new employees or writing out your workflow for them, you’re wasting your time. And probably overwhelming your new hire in the process. A written and automated service delivery system will save you time and ensure that each team member knows exactly what to do—consistently and across all clients.
The number of accounting tools available to us is constantly growing. New products come out, old ones improve. It’s hard to keep on top of what’s out there to try and what just won’t work for our business or our clients.
Knowing what works is important, but sticking with what works for us and our business is vital. And so is knowing when to make a change for the betterment of our clients and our workflow. That means developing a system for trying out new products and migrating clients to these products if we think a change is necessary. Without this system, it’s easy to get sucked into overwhelm and to feel like there’s no end in sight to a task.
Think about the systems you have in place. Even better, pull up the document you have that outlines your systems and workflow. (Yep, I’ll wait while you do that.)
Are you coming up blank? Then it’s time to get it out of your head and onto paper (or in your online workflow tool). If you’re not sure where to start, let’s chat! And you can hear more about my take on workflow systems on the Growing Your Firm Podcast with Jetpack Workflow’s David Cristello.