It is a common challenge for owner run firms of accountants to reach that period of growth where there is too much work for one
person but not enough to employ another.
Many accountants find themselves struggling to balance administration, marketing, client inception procedures, invoicing and credit
control in addition to the core fee earning work of bookkeeping, VAT, accounts production and tax services.
We are often asked by our clients what options they have when faced with this challenge which is a direct result of the success of
There are a number of ways, including:
Employ a member of staff
- Frees up time for the owner to work on the business rather than in it;
- Allows continuation of work in absence of owner due to holidays / sickness etc;
- Allows the business to service increased number of client allowing greater profit potential;
- Increased availability to take and deal with client calls;
- Better work / life balance for the owner;
- Client perception of the business.
- For a one man or woman band, it is essential to get the right person – a mistake can be very costly;
- Initial time investment in training;
- Will have to find the cash to pay a monthly salary even during idle time;
- Increased regulation for employers;
- Release of control can be difficult for those used to doing everything themselves.
Using a subcontractor
- No employment rights;
- Only pay the subcontractor during busy and profitable times;
- No mutual obligation of work;
- Work is done in your name;
- Increased profit levels without personally doing the work.
- Finding a good, reliable subcontractor;
- Subcontractor may not be available for work when you need it done;
- Greater hourly fee than employed staff;
- Confidentiality issues
- Potential conflict of interests.
- No direct control over the subcontractors work.
- Quality control.
- Low cost;
- Only pay for the service when required;
- No obligation to provide work;
- Work is done in your name
- Greater access to increased value adding services
- Increase profit levels without personally doing the work
- Work done by specialists
- Moral aspect – some outsourced firms send off to low cost resource in India / Dubai etc;
- Danger of information (physical and intellectual) lost in transit;
- Client resistence
- Quality control
The above measures deal with the operational, fee earning side of the business. However, it is possible to greatly reduce time
spent per client, without reducing quality, by putting in place some simple measures to increase efficiency and profitability
without compromising quality. With these improvements, you may find that you have the additional time and profit required, without
needing to employ, outsource or subcontract.
- Templating all client letters;
- Systemising the client inception process;
- Having 'surgery hours' of availability for clients;
- Educating clients when to bring their (complete) records in; it is not realistic to bring in the records on the 25th of the
month when the accounts are due in on the 30th;
- Booking in each job and agreeing return date with clients;
- Billing for all client work – not giving away your time;
- Annual review of clients – educating the time stealers how to change their ways to avoid price increases;
- Investing time with all new clients on how to keep good records;
- Keeping travel time to a minimum – clients come to you;
- Using your software to it's full potential;
- Having non-meeting days;
- Disengaging clients – it may be more profitable to disengage some clients who use up all of your time but don't want to pay for
it – this can be less costly than keeping them and employing / subcontracting / outsourcing.
- Review your email only twice daily. Clients expect (and rightly so) a prompt response to emails but that can be done with a
twice daily review. There is no need to have the constant interruption of emails disrupting your day.
- Learning how to say no – don't try to be all things to all people;
- Cutting down on research time, unless the subject is something you feel you should know and will regularly come up.
If you are reading this blog then the chances are you are in the position outlined above. Give yourself a pat on the back, you have
reached the first stage of growth. The next step for you is of vital importance, make sure that you get it right for you and your
business to move up to the next level.
If you would like to discuss your situation in greater detail then please contact us on 01268 417 631 for a free consultation.