Join Klein, Rowe & Co, our fictional case study firm, as they learn from our Automating Success webinar series. In each webinar, our thought leaders will share their expertise on how this firm might address those challenges. In each KRC followup, we'll share with you what our fictional firm has learned and the next steps they might take to reimagine their firm.
Please note: our fictional case study and followup articles are fictional and intended for entertainment and educational purposes only.
From surviving to thriving…
A game plan to build a healthier firm during an era of recovery
The partners at Klein, Rowe, & Co (KRC) have more than a decade of experience running an accounting and advisory practice. But like so many other firm leaders today, they are struggling to survive in the current economic landscape. What has been dubbed an “era of recovery” is taking its toll on the firm’s bottom line and has left both partners scrambling to build back up their book of business and move out of mere survival mode.
Even prior to the advent of a world-wide pandemic, KRC had its fair share of issues. High staff turnover, blurred positioning and failure to standardized workflow processes represented major challenges within the firm. Pile on ever-changing economic crisis legislation, an abrupt move to virtual workspaces and contactless client service, and an already “unhealthy” firm is now more vulnerable to failure than ever.
Firm partners realize that the time is now to take real action. To put in the work required to repair the cracks in an unstable business model. To stop simply surviving and start thriving.
The road to recovery starts with education, and the first stop for KRC was Bill.com’s Automating Success Masterclass series. After attending the series’ inaugural webinar, “How accounting firms can thrive during the recovery,” the partners walked away inspired and motivated to repair key issues in the firm.
What KRC learned…
To start their journey to recovery, KRC partners focused on two deep-rooted pain points within the firm: 1) Positioning and 2) Processes.
In reference to positioning, KRC partners were candid and honest in assessing the current state of their firm: “We lack clarity around who our ideal clients are. While we know we have the expertise and are very good at serving the attorney niche, for years we’ve taken on any client who walks through the door, and that has distorted our messaging and confused prospective clients.”
The partners understand that they must be crystal clear about who they serve and why. By eliminating confusion around the value they offer, the firm will be better positioned to attract ideal, longer-term and higher-value clientele.
Focusing on processes, firm partners also understand the critical nature of standardizing workflow across departments and roles. This means that tasks must be performed in the same manner no matter what staff member is handling the work in order to significantly improve efficiency firm wide.
Partners indicated: “Because we take on clients from any industry, whether they are ideal or not, standardization has gone out the window and efficiency has suffered greatly. What happens is that we end up working within the client’s defined process instead of setting the standard. This wreaks havoc on our staff because everyone is working differently and no one knows what the other is doing.”
KRC partners agree that these key issues must be fixed immediately. It’s time for a plan. It’s time for action.
KRC action items…
Repairing the issues with positioning and processes is no small order. To start, KRC partners developed a list of focused action items—serving as a road map that will keep them on track and accountable to making much-needed changes.
Positioning task list:
Take an inventory of existing clients. Based on this data, identify other possible ideal niches to serve (in addition to attorneys). Then identify non-ideal clients to phase out of the business over time.
Define proper messaging that highlights the firm’s key value propositions for our identified niche industries. Work with staff to refine messaging for marketing purposes.
Educate all staff on the new positioning and the reasons behind identifying ideal clients.
Update website with new messaging as well as all other marketing and sales collateral.
Identify a champion to follow-through with marketing message updates across all communication channels: website, social media, print materials, etc.
Processes task list:
Thoroughly evaluate all workflow processes that support firm services and identify the variances in each. Take the time to interview each employee to better understand how work is being processed.
Take inventory of the technologies used to support workflow and identify gaps that hinder streamlining processes.
Research cloud applications that can help enhance the firm’s technology stack and support standardized processes.
Create an onsite team to oversee workflow standardization (which includes both partners). Test new processes and train staff before launching.
Develop a new, standardized client onboarding process, so that every client is brought into the firm in the same manner and expectations are set properly up front. This will enforce that the firm sets the standard for how work is performed, and not the client.
Check back regularly to learn how KRC is progressing. In the meantime, feel free to use any of the ideas listed above to help enhance your firm and move from surviving to thriving.