Learning from Others
As a sole owner with a seven-person accounting firm in Tucson, AZ, I rely heavily on others to help me keep up with the changing regulatory climate and changes in tax law. Networking with others in the profession who are facing similar situations in their practices or with their clients is an invaluable resource.
Two of my favorite resources for networking and learning include:
AICPA conferences and other membership organizations. Two of my favorite conferences are the AICPA Practitioners Symposium and Tech+ Conference and the AICPA E.D.G.E. Conference. These conferences include both the tax and technical update sessions I need, plus sessions on how to better run and grow my practice, leverage technology, engage my people and more. In addition, within the CPA profession I am a member of the Thriveal CPA Network. Outside of the CPA profession, I’m on the board of the Marana Chamber of Commerce and a member of the Tucson Chapter of the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO). Collaborating with other practitioners and professionals at these events gives me an opportunity to bounce ideas off of others that I don’t have access to in my small practice – and others’ generosity and willingness to share their experience and tools with me and the profession is a true gift!
AICPA Trusted Business Advisor Solutions, which provides customizable templates, tools and guidance that I use to build my accounting practice and increase my value to my clients. I have also met many great people that have contributed to this toolset, both practitioners and at the AICPA, and we network and share ideas and tools that we can leverage in our practices so we don’t have to recreate the wheel.
We use the information I learn from others and through various resources and tools to share with our clients and keep them informed. I also think we do a good job of balancing “tried and true” communication and educational methods with new, innovative ideas. For example, we have subscribed to newsletter content through ClientWhys for years and use their tax updates in our newsletter articles, blogs and email updates to clients. They do an excellent job of explaining technical issues and updates in a simple way that furthers my own understanding and learning, too! We also send updates to clients directly through our NetSuite client portal, which notifies our clients that they have a message or important update.
Our educational seminars are important to our clients and prospects as well. We recently held two events on the topic of health care reform - and we already received a new client as a result! One event targeted to small businesses included an update from an insurance alliance on employee benefits and our firm provided an update on the related tax implications. We followed the educational segment with a networking reception for all attendees. The other event was in conjunction with a nurse practitioner who asked me to come speak to a group of individuals at an event she coordinated about what to expect and plan for as health care laws begin to take effect. There are also many tools available in the PCPS Healthcare Reform Toolkit that practitioners can take advantage of to help communicate health care changes to both small and large business clients and individual clients.
One new idea we are exploring to enhance our communication and provide more value for clients in an educational format is using Google Hangouts where you can invite up to ten people to talk using voice and/or video. We will be hosting these online meetings to share important information with clients on a variety of topics, such as the importance of planning, using independent contractors vs. employees, upcoming tax changes and the implications on small businesses. This is also a marketing activity as prospects may join or clients may identify new services we could provide for them through these discussions.
Learning will Result in Growth
As a CPA, you should be willing to learn new things and then determine what you really like to do and become an expert in that area. I have found that the more I become proficient in an area and then share that knowledge and expertise with my clients, the more likely they are to think of me in that area when that type of specific need arises. We are growth minded at GMLCPA and continually uncover new ways to provide more services to our current clients because we share information that is relevant to them and demonstrate new ways that we can help them. We focus on communication and education with our clients during our “slower” periods, which inevitably turn into new services we can offer our clients.
As an entrepreneur, it is important to balance the desire to serve clients with being business minded and profitable. Therefore, it’s imperative that we leverage networking events and learning opportunities to present relevant and current information to our clients to drive firm growth through new service opportunities and assist clients reach success.
Gabrielle M. Luoma, CPA, CGMA is the sole owner of GMLCPA, PLLC, a seven-person accounting firm in Tucson, AZ. For more information about GMLCPA, visit www.gmlcpa.com.