31 Mar April 2017
Make the journey by making the grade.
In this article, I’m going to take you through what may be the most transformative exercise our company has ever gone through. This single exercise changed the way we thought and has inspired our entire team to focus in a whole new way. I’m hoping those statements alone will pique your interest to continue reading.
Earlier this year, I downloaded a short whitepaper that discussed the idea of providing outstanding customer experience. Nothing new here; I’ve read many articles and books focused on the same topic. What was different in this article was how the author suggested measuring one’s organization. In her example, she identified 10 points of customer experience and suggested rating one’s company against the standard of world-class.
In her model, she discussed the concept of a GPA—that’s right, a Grade Point Average. I know you thought you could have stopped worrying about that years ago. I sure did. The GPA was on a 4.0 scale: 0.0 signifies being awful; 2.0 is mediocre; and 4.0 is world-class. Imagine that for a moment, and then imagine how your firm would score on any number of interactions with your clients—answering the phone, for example. How would you score?
This article really inspired me, and I asked myself how I could apply this to our organization and to our broader membership.
I need to give you a bit more background here before we go any further. I’ve been working on our organizational structure for well over a year, and I finally think I have it right. We are one organization, which includes our accounting firm, RootAdvisors. We are organized around four teams: the Company Care Team, the Client Care – Education Team, the Client Care – Creative Team, and our Client Care – Tax and Accounting Team. Our Company Care Team is focused on everything needed to support the other three teams. This includes things like development, content support, sales, marketing…you get the picture. All other teams are focused on making customer lives better.
With all that background, I took the concept of the GPA and focused it on one area of our business. I called it our Touch Points GPA. Our Company Care Team listed every touch point we had with a customer in an Excel spreadsheet, and then we went around the table and asked each team member to give us a grade on each touch point based on the scale of world class I described above. Holy cow, was this eye opening! We had 26 touch points and our overall average of all touch points was a 1.3 GPA. I can’t believe I just told you this, but it’s true. The best part of the whole exercise was how much it inspired us to begin thinking differently. The concept of “world-class” has given us a whole new frame of reference.
I took the same exercise to each of our other teams and walked them through it step by step. Each team was slightly different; I saw scores ranging from 1.5 to 1.8 overall—eye-opening again. The power of this epiphany has provided our company with a common goal, the goal to be world-class in every single touch point we have. You can only imagine the amount of company-wide activity this has created. Everything we do has been impacted, from how we email, to the way we provide support, to our Grow platform, which we’re redesigning from the ground up this year. We no longer just send an email out; rather, we ask ourselves, does this email format and content meet the world-class standard?
This exercise was so illuminating and inspiring for our teams that I have now created a version for our members. It’s based around the same concept of GPA but focuses on three different areas of our businesses: culture, business model and touch points. We’ve identified essential components of each of these areas and would like for you to self-assess how well you are doing, compared to a world-class standard. Needless to say, this exercise will inspire improvement activities in every firm we work with.
I’m excited for you to have the same experience our team has had and to begin the process of becoming world-class in the areas that are most important to you. This is a don’t-miss opportunity this summer—we’ll be working on your GPA at our Summer Partner Retreats.
Get signed up today. I’m looking forward to seeing you, my friend.
Before you know it, this tax season will be a wrap. Although it is an incredibly busy time, it is important to begin thinking NOW about your bookkeeping strategy and what you want to accomplish this year so that you can hit the ground running in early May.
- Determine where you left off in December
- Meet with staff.
- If implementing changes in the firm had to be put on the back burner to get tax work done, meet with the staff who had been working on the bookkeeping initiatives to figure out where things were left at the end of the year.
- Identify role/staff changes.
- Have roles changed in the firm? Have you hired or had staff leave over the last couple of months? If so, determine how these staff changes will impact the bookkeeping initiatives for the year and reassign responsibilities as needed.
- Re-evaluate priorities
- It is possible that priorities may need to be changed or to-do items need to be added or removed from the list. This is a good thing. It is important to continuously evaluate priorities so that staff time is being spent on the correct initiatives.
- Update the Client Transition spreadsheet.
- To prioritize changes in the firm, it is important to have a detailed, comprehensive client list to determine what changes, if any, are needed. Click here to download the Rootworks Client Transition spreadsheet template.
- Update and modify the spreadsheet to fit the needs of your firm. Be sure to include these details:
- Fixed monthly fee
- Technology solutions being deployed
- Staff assignments
- Set direction and deadlines.
- Use the spreadsheet to identify gaps.
- Meet with staff again to ensure everyone understands their priorities and direction that the firm is heading.
- Schedule ongoing status meetings to ensure progress is being made against the goals.
Follow these steps, and you’ll have a leg up on your bookkeeping strategy as you roll out of tax season. It’s just around the corner!
How to Begin With The End in Mind
Now that the tax rush is wrapping up, it’s time to think about your selling season and how you’ll undertake a focused, productive marketing effort in 2017. Like every aspect of running a business, good marketing begins with a strategic vision of the desired outcome—your goals.
Spend time reviewing the strategic guideposts below. They’ll lead you to effective goal-setting for your marketing plan. (Read all the way to the end for advice on how to turn this into action!)
- Call in the SWOT Team: The acronym SWOT stands for Strengths, Opportunities, Weaknesses, and Threats. It’s the basic framework for assessing the internal and external forces that are working for and against your organization. Strengths and Weaknesses are internal factors; you have control over these. Opportunities and Threats are external forces that are shaped by demands and conditions in the marketplace. You don’t have control over these forces, but you can connect them with your organization’s strengths and weaknesses to create a strategic path for your marketing efforts. To conduct your SWOT analysis, gather your strategic planning team and begin mapping the factors using a grid like this:
|SWOT Analysis||Opportunities (External, positive)
• List your Opportunities here
|Threats (External, negative)
• List your Threats here
|Strengths (Internal, positive)
• List your Strengths here
|Strength-Opportunity Strategies: Which of your strengths can be used to maximize your opportunities?||Strength-Threat Strategies: Which of your strengths can be used to neutralize or minimize your threats?|
|Weaknesses (Internal, negative)
• List your Weaknesses here
|Weakness-Opportunity Strategies: What initiatives can you take to mitigate the effects of your weaknesses on your opportunities?||Weakness-Threat Strategies: How can you reduce the effects of your weaknesses to avoid being impacted by the threats you identified?|
- Evaluate Key Elements of Your Marketing Mix: Ask how each of the strategies above relates to these aspects of your business:
- Your Products/Services: Are you offering the right solutions? Are they designed to fit within your strategic framework outlined in your SWOT analysis?
- Pricing: Is your pricing strategy aligned to take full advantage of your strengths and opportunities?
- Place: Should you expand or more tightly focus the geographic scope of your marketing efforts? Should you consider more thoroughly developing an area of specialization based on your opportunities or threats?
- Set SMART Goals: Here’s another acronym to help you be effective with goal setting. SMART stands for:
- Specific: Make your goals tightly defined; no ambiguity.
- Measurable: Define what success will look like; establish a means to determine when you’ve reached the finish line.
- Agreed Upon: Be certain everyone on the team shares a common understanding of the goals; eliminate any chances of misinterpretation.
- Realistic: Don’t try to boil the ocean. Be certain that goals are achievable with your available resources, skills and time. If not, you’re setting your team up for failure.
- Time-Based: Establish a timeline and set intermediate milestones or objectives along the way. Don’t be too aggressive, but do set a pace that assures steady progress.
Sound overwhelming? You can do it! And here’s the first step: Right now, put a date on your calendar after your team has had a chance to decompress from tax time. Make that date a retreat day for your partners or strategic planning team. With one day’s worth of focused intention, you should be able to work through the roadmap outlined above.
You’ll come away with a solid, realistic set of marketing goals for 2017, as well as extraordinary clarity on the strategic direction of your firm, which will also help focus your leadership initiatives. It’ll be time well spent for your firm!
Next issue: Extending your goals into an action plan for marketing communications.
Advantage and Academy members:
April Staff Trainings:
- April 5th: Tax Season Status Check and Extension Filing Process
- April 28th: Delivering Financial Information
New course in Online Learning System:
‘Practice CS Implementation’ is now available on your course dashboards in the Online Learning System. Choose Learn > Online Learning & Resources to get there.
This course is ideal for firms that are new to Practice CS. We’ll take you through the best way to implement the program from start to finish, with assignments along the way to keep you focused. This course also has a module called ‘Processing,’ which is ideal for staff new to your firm, even if your firm has been using Practice CS for years. Click Modules in the left navigation to access specific modules.
Upcoming Educational Webinars:
- May 4th: Q2 Planning Webinar. This will be a 90-minute session. Just like we did last year, we start by recapping tax season. Make sure you have a webcam (with a microphone). Be ready to share!
- May 18th: Spring Technology Webinar. We’ll discuss updates and new functionality to the software that we use, especially Fathom, Receipt Bank and TSheets
Receipt Bank–QB Desktop on Right Networks Integration:
As mentioned last month: As you know, Receipt Bank currently works seamlessly with Quickbooks Online; and now they want to bring the same benefits to your desktop clients. They’re currently pursuing an integration with QuickBooks Desktop, hosted on Right Networks. This means you’ll be able to enjoy the benefits of Receipt Bank with both your QuickBooks Online clients and your QuickBooks Desktop.
Please note that the Receipt Bank – QB Desktop integration is specific to clients on Right Networks.
This new integration functionality will be available to the profession at large in the summer; however, they already have a wait list. Rootworks members will receive priority for the wait list and, in addition, members are also being offered special pricing.
If you’re interested in integrating QB Desktop clients with Receipt Bank, fill out this registration of interest form, and the team at Receipt Bank will be in touch.
Coaching Call Updates:
Coaching calls are still booked through Grow on the Coaching screen by clicking the “Book Now” button (and Web development and review calls are still booked on the Website screen).
We have two new coaching topics: “Slack for Staff Collaboration” and “Zoom Video Conferencing.”
Coaching calls still last one hour but we are continuing to book calls starting on the :00, :15, :30, and :45, to allow for better flexibility.
Finally, we will be using Zoom for all coaching calls as of Wednesday, March 29. If you have an existing call on the calendar for the 29th or beyond, you will receive an updated confirmation with Zoom instructions for your call. Don’t worry, it’s easy. We will no longer use GoToMeeting for coaching calls, so coaches will no longer send an extra email with GoToMeeting instructions. You’ll simply use the Zoom link in the email you receive to join your coaching call.