Globally, we’re seeing a trend of many accounting firms making a push towards providing more value-added services to their clients, even during their traditional busy seasons. But as they make this push, the question arises of how to train their staff to move forward on the same path. In this episode of Building Your Multi-Million Dollar Practice we’re going to dig into the step-by-step process of training your staff.
Understand your clients’ needs
If you understand your clients’ needs, then your clients will be motivated to work with you. Business owners fundamentally want financial stability, to increase profitability, growth, to increase valuation, and to eventually have a succession plan.
What tools are you going to use?
You need to understand what the value proposition is of the tools you are using. Do they provide a valuable deliverable to your clients? You must understand the value of each tool in order to train your employees on why it is worthwhile to take on learning a new technology, and how to use these tools to help your clients.
It’s also important to know that the tools you are using are validated or accredited by a reputable source. That is why ProfitSee has gone through the process to become the only accredited Forecasting and Budgeting tool with the ICAEW.
What services do you want to offer your clients?
- Real-Time Reporting
One major benefit to cloud accounting is the ability to see things in real-time. You should be able to see transactions as they happen. This will allow your team to generate P&L and Balance Sheet reports that will show where the company currently stands.
- Smart Budgeting
Budgeting is key to keeping the businesses on track; a budget is like a blue print of the company’s success. It’s important to teach your team how to account for seasonal variance, trends, and growth of the company when creating a budget. Budgeting should be the benchmark for monthly performance.
You have to define which metrics are important to monitor. Every business is unique, but there are likely 3-5 KPIs that will show how a business is doing. There are standard metrics, but based on the industry, it might be more meaningful to use customized calculations. What are the ones you want to be watching, and how often will you be checking on the outcomes, how will you notify your clients if you see something shifting? This is important to define so that your team understands expectations of service levels.
- Cash Flow Forecasting
This is arguably the most important service you can offer. Cash is king in any business. Planning for necessary cash reserves, cash for growth, capital for reinvestment is a critical piece in making a company prosper. How will your team prepare and deliver forecasts?
- Business Growth and Risk Management
This ties into forecasting, too. What is the company doing to ensure growth? You can’t just assume that the business will grow organically, there needs to be strategies put into place. You must define the elements come into play when you and your team are defining a financial strategy for managing risk while planning for growth.
- Managing Tax Strategies
Many clients may have more than one taxable entity. So it’s important to determine how you will manage multi-company consolidations and reconciliations or franchise operations.
Select the right team member(s)
Who are you going to train to serve your clients in this capacity? Picking the right people to start moving forward on the advisory path with you means that they are passionate, relational, and have an aptitude for training others. Passionate means they are motivated to help their clients. Relational means that they have good relationships with existing clients; this makes it easier to start having conversations about new services. And an aptitude for training means they not only enjoy teaching other people, but they also have a desire to learn more.
Train in small steps
Software solutions have many components. So once you’ve chosen the tools to use it’s important to break it down into bite sized steps. Most tools offer training for their customers or potential customers, but not all will go beyond the basic functionality of how to use the app. Breaking down the training into smaller steps helps prevent your team from feeling overwhelmed.
ProfitSee’s training team is dedicated to helping you understand how the tools fit into your practice to create efficiencies and help your clients thrive; going beyond just how to use the tools, but how to leverage them to provide valuable service to your clients.
Start training on a real company
With your team member(s), together, pick an actual client to use for training them on using the software, tools, and processes for providing services. Using real data will show the real need for the services and deliverables that you’ve decided on. Picking the right beta client is important; hopefully this client will have a strong relationship with the accountant or bookkeeper already, may already be an advocate or have sent referral business to you, and is a client that your team member would be comfortable having transparent conversations with.
During the beta process with their first client, make sure you are available to review how things are going and be a sounding board for your team member. Offering support and being able to provide assistance and answer questions for your team is key in making sure that everyone is on the same page when it comes to service offerings and expectations.
Your team member doesn’t necessarily have to be an expert on all services to get started, but it’s ideal to keep their training 1-2 steps ahead of the next meeting with their clients. Rolling out services systematically to their beta client is beneficial to both the client and the advisor. You don’t want to overwhelm the business owner with too much information; you want to be able to clearly explain to them what all the data means, and likewise you want your team member to feel comfortable with each aspect of the services without overloading them. On the job training makes this process much more dynamic.
Add more clients and add more team members
The first team member can now add more clients to their service offering, and can also help you train other team members. This will exponentially grow your service offering, and will help your firm grow while helping your clients thrive.
Ultimately, training your team takes a commitment to setting up a process. But this process will be your pathway to successfully implementing a services strategy for your firm. If you have any questions, please reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org