Back in 2003, the CPA practice I had opened with my partner 5 years earlier was spinning out of control. The staff suffered from “upward delegation.” That’s a term I coined for staff who do substandard work and then expect you to fix it. We couldn’t seem to hire the right people. Due to the staff problems, I was constantly handling office matters and so we were continually behind. Tax seasons were a grind with long hours and people snapping at each other. I was constantly trying to balance the practice and my family life but was remarkably unsuccessful. My wife detested it all yet it was all part of a lack of accounting practice management.
We were looking at adding more staff because we were seriously backlogged. Yet, if I looked at the national surveys, there was nothing in the numbers to suggest hiring another employee. My partner and I tried another approach: we would get Sterling to boost our efficiency as they have years of experience in accounting practice management. Our theory was if the Sterling program could help us avoid hiring another employee, it would more than pay for itself.
The program did far more than that. In fact, Sterling addressed everything we wanted handled on our first day there. After that, everything was gravy. The CPA practice management courses were in-depth and unlike any training I had taken. We went home with a well-developed, comprehensive set of actions to take. Sterling worked with us to create an organizational chart for the practice. We streamlined communications and work flow, implemented policies, job descriptions and a statistical management system to measure staff performance. We ran marketing programs which grew our practice, something I never would have done before Sterling. I would have said there was too much risk, too much expense and I wouldn’t have known what to do with the extra clients anyway. That was all part of the comprehensive program we did as part of the Sterling accounting practice management course.
We came to Sterling to save the cost of an additional employee. As it turns out, our billings and collections went up by 86% and our profits more than doubled. The best part, though, is I’ve been able to bring my life back into balance. I’m more relaxed and have a much better relationship with my family. I have time to referee soccer games and serve as the school district treasurer. I’ve also just completed a three-year commitment as the chair of the Illinois CPA Society. It has been rewarding to have a voice in national affairs.
People ask me if I like my work. I tell them that I love it and that it’s fun 95% of the time. They’re surprised because work is not “supposed” to be fun. Before Sterling, I would have agreed. If any of this hits home, call Sterling at 800-933-7538 and request a copy of their free DVD and a no-charge consultation in CPA firm practice management. I’m confident you will be glad you did. — Robert Cameron, CPA