How to create a practice that doesn’t rely on you

If you want to grow your accountancy firm, you can’t do everything

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Logical as that sounds, it’s surprisingly difficult for many practice owners to grasp.

Many practice owners believe that their clients are buying them and wouldn’t want to deal with a member of their team. In their hearts, they also believe that no team member is able to deliver a service at the same level they do.

The reality is that this mindset restricts growth. It’s also inaccurate.

When AVN members have surveyed their clients to ask how important it is for them to deal only with the partner of the practice, the results have been disheartening – at least for the partner! What clients really want is their work produced on time and accurately. Frankly, they don’t care who does the work.

This isn’t to say that the clients don’t have a great relationship with the partner. But they trust that the partner will run a practice with high standards.

It’s just like taking your car to be serviced. You probably always go to the same garage, but do you always know, or care, which mechanic actually carries out the work? I certainly don’t! I simply trust that the owner of the garage has high standards and ensures that everyone in their team delivers to the same level.

Getting your team to step up

When you want to grow your practice, you need a team to help you do it – and the more team you have, the more capacity you have. But this is only true up to a point. Often, capacity doesn’t increase at the same rate as your team because you double-check every piece of work before signing it off. You might have leveraged your time a little, but ultimately, you’re just creating a bottleneck.

The solution is to put a client manager set-up in place, each with a team of their own.

I know many practice owners have concerns about this kind of system. Concerns such as:

  • What if they run away with my clients and set up in competition?
  • What if they don’t deliver to my high standards?
  • They don’t like talking to clients as it is.
  • They don’t always interpret the numbers very well.

These concerns are understandable. And if you don’t get this right, some of them might prove to be correct.

So let’s look at how to address those concerns:

What if they run away with my clients and set up in competition?

If you develop and encourage your team to grow, and you create a great culture within your business, this is much less likely to happen. When you lead rather than manage your team, you’ll be able to enjoy working with people who are as committed as you are to the continued growth and success of your practice.

What if they don’t deliver to my high standards?

Systemising the tasks and processes within your business means that everything gets done to the same high standard, no matter who is doing it. That doesn’t mean that your team turn into robots, mindlessly following a list of instructions. When your team are engaged and enthusiastic, they will constantly be looking for ways to improve and new ideas to make your business even better.

They don’t like talking to clients as it is

They don’t always interpret the numbers very well

Both these issues have the same solution – training and giving the right tasks to the right people in your team. Not everyone will be brilliant at talking to your clients, but some will absolutely love it. Likewise, not everyone will have the technical skills to interpret the numbers, but some will be a whiz at it. It doesn’t have to be the same person. So talk to your team. Find out what they’re most interested in and which aspects of their job they really enjoy so you can find the right person for each task.

Implementing this will make scaling your practice considerably easier and enable you to transform your partner-centred accountancy practice into an accountancy business.

Shane Lukas – AVN for Accountants

Shane will be sharing more strategies for building a better accountancy practice at the AVN Practice Growth Masterclass – find out more.