I have a small practice in Lake Providence, a rural town of 5,000 along the Mississippi River in the Northeastern corner of Louisiana. I opened the office in 1995 and over the years it has grown to include two staff accountants, besides myself and an office manager. We specialize in farm taxation for the most part. We handle a lot of the monthly writeup work and also do computer hardware and software consulting.
Prior to becoming a Sterling client, I had problems I thought most accounting firms had. We were busy, but not getting ahead. We didn’t have any clear direction. The place was pretty disorganized. I was working too many hours. There was not enough revenue. I was keeping up with the overhead, but not really making headway. I didn’t have a handle on the finances and wasn’t building up a nest egg.
I started with Sterling in November 2002, just in time to get ready for the 2003 tax season. Things have gone much better since then.
I went out to Glendale, California with one of my employees. We studied a wide variety of subjects including how to be more organized, how to run the practice in a more efficient manner, goal setting, strategic planning, and statistical analysis. Most importantly, we learned how to apply these skills to obtain what we really wanted in our business and in life. The program helped me to be more organized in my own thinking and has also helped me in my relationships with family and friends. You can take those same skills and use them to improve your personal finances and the way you organize your home as well.
When we returned to our office, we started setting production and financial quotas, and we started meeting them. Part of this involved improving the efficiency of our collections. I also applied some of the organizational skills to straighten out the workflow for tax season so it would run smoother.
The program gives you the basic skills you need to be more organized and to get the workout. The staff are happier because they have something to work for. I don’t think an accounting firm is a very fun place to work if it is all “billable hours, billable hours, billable hours.” If you don’t properly reward the employees, they won’t be happy and they won’t stay. Sterling provides you with a lot of organizational skills, financial planning tools, and ways to increase your productivity without losing employees.
Although it has been only a little more than two years since starting with Sterling, the practice has grown substantially. We are getting our name out more and building up our client base. Since we are better organized, we can manage the extra workload without adding to the overhead.
Looking at the finances, we increased our revenue by nineteen percent the first year and over twenty percent the second. But of course, it is the bottom line figures that matter most, and I have more money in the bank now than I used to have.
We’ve come a long way in just two years. Production, collections, profitability and job satisfaction are all up, both for myself and the staff.
The biggest difference is that I am now able to set goals for the practice and I have the management skills needed to achieve them. Instead of operating without a plan the way it used to be, I know what direction we are heading in, and we are moving forward.
Nan Hopkins, CPA