I’ve been a Sterling client about two and a half years. I give management advisory services, telling other people how to run their businesses. But I wasn’t running my own business as a business. It was almost funny, in a sad kind of way. It was ridiculous! I was putting in way too many hours. It wasn’t the amount of compensation that concerned me as much as the hours I was working outside of tax season, about 65 hours a week, and during tax season at least 80 hours. It was a total drain on me.
During the training at Sterling, one thing I learned was about the anti-social personality, and I came back and immediately got rid of three clients. That made my tax season a lot easier. I eliminated about $20,000 in fees, and picked up replacements within three months. One of the things I’ve implemented from Sterling is that now I interview the client when the client interviews me for accounting services, and I decide if I want them or not as a client. Before, I would grab anything! Now, I don’t.
I also put in the three-basket system and the communication system, right away when I got back. That cut down on the time that we spent with each other working on projects, and figuring out what needed to be done.
Another thing I immediately put in were the office policies and procedures. I wrote up the office policies on the plane on the way back, on my laptop, and then I presented them to the staff. I’ve been able to take my personality away from managing this business. In other words, it’s not Joe that’s doing it now. All of a sudden we have policies, and the policy says this. That takes the strain off me.
Our production has definitely increased since going with Sterling. In 1996 I had about a 27% growth rate over ’95. In 1997 I had about a 22% growth rate over ’96.
I bought a condo at the beach, and I spend three days a week there. I leave on Thursday night and come back Monday morning. I don’t take any work home with me. I’ve never done that before in my life. When I went out to Sterling, I didn’t have any time. Now I’m making more and I’m not putting in the time. Outside of tax season I’m working about half the hours I was. During tax season I’m not working as much either.
Everyone in my office keeps statistics, including me. We go over the stats and apply the conditions formulas to the statistics.
I don’t have any problems getting referrals and picking up clients. The problem is getting the work out. I have my masters degree in taxes, and I was a tax partner of a regional firm, and I am extremely smart. Therefore, I made the assumption I could run my own business. When I did that, I realized I had to be a manager. You have to be an executive, and that is where Sterling has helped me, in putting on that hat. The office is much smoother now. The stress level is almost 100% less. You’re always going to have stress when you have clients. But as far as the staff operating together, the stress is pretty much gone there.
I hadn’t realized that someone saying “I can’t do this,” meant “I don’t want to do it.” Now, I don’t accept that. I’ve actually spent more time in training my staff in the technical aspects, which has actually reduced my own time in the practice. I can turn more work over to them. Now I’m getting my administrative assistant trained in write-up, so I can move work from my junior accountant to her, move work from my senior accountant to my junior accountant, and then move work from me to my senior accountant. That’s my whole objective now.
My confidence level has greatly increased. A big personal win has been the clients that I have. I’ve weeded out the anti-social clients. I just don’t grovel for business. If I have tax clients that I have problems with or they don’t comply with what we need, we mark them off and the next year we’re too busy to book them. It’s made life much easier in this office, just controlling who we work for.
Accountants are always worried about the cost of things. The gain from Sterling far offsets the cost. I figure it took two months to make back what I spent on the initial Sterling program, based on the increase, so I recouped the money right away. It was the best tax season ever when I came back. I’m continuing with Sterling because they are just making me a better person all around.
The Hubbard management technology is excellent. He didn’t re-invent the wheel, he just laid it out for us to follow. The most important thing is implementation—you have to DO it.
I’m not an easy person to get along with, and Sterling gets along with me just fine. I demand 100%. As an example, in graduate school I re-took one class because I had a B in it and I wanted to graduate with all As. That’s just the kind of person I am. Whenever I’ve had a problem and brought it to Sterling’s attention, it was rectified immediately.
The consulting I’ve been getting is excellent. The good thing about my consultant is that she’ll spend the time to handle personal things as well. I think of most of the people at Sterling as my friends. They follow through.
Accountants always seem to prioritize work over our business, and what Sterling has allowed me to do is to prioritize my business over the work. They gave me the realization that I had a business here, and now I operate it as a business. I have employees now. It is important for everyone to understand that they can make more money. We sit down and make group decisions about this business. It took the emotionality out of the business. The personality and the emotionality is gone.
Joe Troupe, CPA