My father had been a CPA and it seemed like a good choice of professions; I decided to follow in his footsteps. In 1985, I joined the CPA practice he had founded 25 years earlier. By 2013, I had become its sole owner and was dissatisfied with how the firm was operating.
My staff picked and chose what they wanted to work on at their leisure. This caused engagements to drag out and also affected realization. Eventually a due date would arise and something would have to happen to satisfy the deadline; that responsibility fell to me.
I had also identified our audit business as a serious issue; the audits were fixed-fee engagements which took too long to complete and no one liked doing them. To make matters worse, the market was trying to get the lowest fees possible. I wanted to sell the audit business but I was concerned about the revenue hit and unsure how to make the transition.
Despite working long hours, I never caught up. When I wasn’t at work, I was stressed and couldn’t enjoy the simpler things of life. While those around me were happy and relaxed, I was serious and short-tempered, especially on Sundays when I knew I had to go to the office on Monday. The firm was making good money but with what I was going through, I should have been earning more. I felt there was a better way to run my practice and certainly a bigger objective for me.
I received a mailer from Sterling, contacted them and signed on in late 2012. I wanted their help unraveling and retooling my staff to take ownership of their work and increase profitability.
I made a one-week trip to Sterling to get started. After meeting with my consultant and taking some courses, I realized I could make the changes I envisioned; I just had to make some decisions and pull the trigger. When I returned home, I immediately sold off the audit business. Then I asked Sterling to come to my practice and implement the program’s concepts and get the staff on board. While at our office, their consultants devised an organizational chart which detailed all of the duties in the firm and who was responsible for them. We created job descriptions for the staff which enabled me to delegate work I didn’t have to do myself. By the end of their visit, the consultants had gotten the staff up and running on Sterling’s teachings.
Sterling also recommended an employee bonus plan based on performance and helped me implement it. Once we got the right monetary incentive, we began to hit our performance goals. Now the staff better understand what needs to get done. They take charge and don’t ask for help or interrupt me with questions.
Working with Sterling has removed a tremendous weight from my shoulders; I no longer feel like I am in it all by myself. I have less stress and do more of the work I like to do because I am controlling my environment. And I have time to play golf every week and travel more.
I knew when I sold the audit work, I would be in for a two- to three-year transition. Thanks to the Sterling program, I am making it. Last year, we enjoyed 22% sales growth and are profitable. I expect another 10% sales increase this year, as well. Sterling gave me confidence to make that tough decision and the tools to see it through; they helped me lay the foundation for what I have today.