5 secrets to building a scalable practice

What do the most successful accounting firms have in common? A great team? Strong leadership? Good systems and processes? Outstanding client service?

As important as these traits are, they will only let your practice grow so far.

For your firm to take the next step, maximize profitability and ultimately reach its potential, it is crucial that you have an ability to scale; in other words, you need to ensure the traits that make you successful won't break as soon as your client base expands. So where do you start?

We asked Scott Lynch, Director at Beanstalk Accountants, what he would look at in order to build a scalable practice. These are his top 5 secrets to success:

#1 Know the way you work

Find the process that works for your practice and make sure everyone in your team knows it inside-out. You must be able to track — and stay on top of — each client’s job at any time. The worst excuse for losing track of a job is not even having a standard process to begin with.

#2 One source of the truth

Do you use Xero Practice Manager, Practice Ignition, Karbon, or something else? You might use a combination of systems to cater for different purposes. This is normal, but due to the rather high incidence of double up when using multiple systems you must pick one and make it your central place for key information. Your team must know where to go to find a certain document, check the status of a job or find the last time a client was contacted by one of your team.

#3 Know your clients

Your clients are the lifeblood of your practice. You need to know as much about them as possible, and use this information to your advantage. Know which clients you need to send reminders to on the first day after the end of the BAS period, and who will be ready on day 1 without prompting. This will let you plan which activities need to be done, and by when, for your different clients.

#4 Train your clients

Do you want information to come in as soon as it’s ready, even if it’s in multiple batches? Or would you prefer to wait for it all at once? Train your clients well in the way you operate, making sure they know what to do to make your job easier. Most will be happy to cooperate when they know they will be the one to benefit. If you want one big email with all information in it rather than 10 emails over a 3 week period, let them know!

#5 Train and treat your staff well

Not even the most sophisticated system can replace well-trained, enthusiastic and hard-working employees. At the end of the day, it’s your staff that run the processes, so in addition to having great automated systems you need great people to operate them. Spend time hiring the right applicants, train staff well, and keep them happy!

Scott Lynch is the Director of Beanstalk Accountants, a Canberra and Sydney-based leader in accounting innovation and new technologies. You can follow them on Twitter.

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