We have all seen people who never grow up. It’s not a pretty sight. Businesses are the same way. Unless they get beyond their adolescence, they can never reach their full potential. That is what the Sterling program does. It brings an accounting practice to maturity.
I have been in practice since 1980 and my partner and I have two offices in Miami. We had twelve employees and felt we needed to organize them and train them on their exact duties. One thing that attracted us to the Sterling program is that it is a system that works for all kinds of businesses, not just accounting. My partner and I are expanding our practice into servicing dentists, chiropractors, and physical therapists. We knew that Sterling had worked with thousands of professionals in those fields over the past twenty years. By choosing Sterling, we would be implementing a management system that would align what we were doing with what our prospective clients were doing, For example, we recently met with a dentist who had been referred to us. When we went to his office, we saw some Hubbard Management books on his shelf and right away we knew that we were on the same page because we had done the same program.
We started having a consultant come out to our office in January to train our staff and get the program started. We covered a lot during that week. We defined what everyone’s job was and trained the staff on their job duties. We drew up an organization chart. We implemented a chain of command so that they know who they should go to with their problems, rather than just bringing them all to me like they used to.
They learned to solve most problems themselves, but they also learned to write up the problem and what they did and put it in the client’s file. They learned how to communicate better. They now know the difference between what is an emergency and what isn’t and they know how to respond when there is an actual emergency. They write up their individual plans for their actions to make sure nothing slips through the cracks. We started managing by statistics so we have real-time information on what is happening in the practice, rather than waiting till the end of the month or the quarter when it is too late to do anything about it.
A big part of the program for me was learning how to better understand people. This has helped me to hire better staff. I can see right away whether they will work out rather than finding out months later.
Another thing that is great about the Sterling program is that when employees are trained in it, they can easily take on new duties in the organization. For example, our manager recently became very ill, but the assistant manager could immediately step in and take over because of the training he had gotten. This wouldn’t have been possible earlier. We also newly hired an accounting manager for one of our offices. He had another company so he could step right in and get to work since he already knew what to do.
This tax season went better because the place was better organized. We had replaced the guesswork with real-time information, which will show up in bottom-line results. Now, since we are better organized, we can handle a lot more production and so are shifting into more marketing to bring in the extra business we can now handle.
Like many other accountants, I took management courses in college, but they were not something I ever actually applied in my own business. The Sterling program is different. It gives you the basic management principles as well as exact steps to follow. Just follow those steps and you get the results. And, when you do that, you raise your whole office to a higher level of maturity and professionalism.
Ed Garcia, E.A.