I opened my practice in 1988. For years I just wasn’t making the kind of money I felt I should, especially net profit. I was working myself to death. I had a dentist client who had dealt with Sterling and he had done very well. That was my first exposure to Sterling. I thought I should see what could be done for accountants. I really needed to make more money and I was working way too hard for what I was making.
I was skeptical. I remember telling my wife, “I have actually seen the Sterling program work over and over again.” I had seen other dental practices go in and come out running in a completely different way. So I told my wife, “I don’t know how they do it, but I have seen it happen.”
She said, “Okay, but if this doesn’t work, you’re going out to get a job!”
When I came back from the ten days of training at Sterling I implemented the communication center and the organization chart right away.
The organizing chart was amazing to me. I thought all my staff would know what they were supposed to do, but they didn’t. So just creating that chart (putting names on it and allocating duties around) helped tremendously. I had eliminated a key position thinking it was saving money. Now this position is filled and more productive than ever.
I’ve got one full-time accountant, a full-time receptionist, a part-time accountant and a part-time bookkeeper. I used to have a full-time bookkeeper, but that position became part-time and she is doing all the same work that the previous person was doing full-time. That’s one area in which I’ve been able to make reductions.
I also have a medical billing company, separately incorporated, with ten employees. I put the same kind of systems in over there. What we collect for physicians was running about $450,000 a month in a great month. Now, what we collect for physicians is running over $800,000 a month. The organizing board made a dramatic difference there. I had supervisors but they didn’t realize what they were supposed to do. Once we set up the organizing board and said, “You’ll do this, this and this,” everything started clicking and working right.
Our average collections for our CPA firm (our fees) were running $25,000 a month. This last month we billed out over $40,000—our highest month ever! It’s been continually on an increase ever since I got back from Sterling. We’re running about 28% ahead of last year. I’ve already made back the money it took to do the Sterling program and I haven’t even been involved six months yet.
I can see that it’s a process—it’s going to take me a while to become a really good executive. But I am much better already. I’ll be involved with Sterling for a good long while. The things I’ve done have made a big impact and they’ve already exceeded the goals that we had set. These dollar amounts may not mean much in other parts of the country, but my goal was to work a lot less than I was working before.
Tax season this year wasn’t nearly as stressful as it was in the past because we were better organized. We were able to handle the business we had. There have been other years where I had a lot of extended tax returns that didn’t want to be extended. This year, everybody we extended had requested an extension!
The quality of our service has been improving and will continue to improve. I’m re-evaluating the services we offer to our clients and better targeting the market we serve. I deal mostly with small medical businesses. I’m trying to find out what kind of things those people need and then target that market better. I was taking more of a shotgun approach before, accepting anything that came down the pike. That caused me to do a lot of things that, although I was able to do well, I couldn’t do profitably. We’re shifting our focus.
One of the things that I became aware of that was very surprising to me, was that every time I would go into an affluent period, where we were doing really well, I would do the wrong things. So I was consistently unknowingly sabotaging the practice every time it was affluent! Well, there are formulas with exact steps you take which I learned at Sterling and this time we went into affluence and we haven’t come out of it yet. We’re still going up!
I will guide my practice by using the statistics and go into a new, much higher level. My medical billing business is getting there because I can’t even imagine how we would do a $25,000 month there anymore. They’ve completely changed how they are doing business. The medical billing company has gone through five consecutive months up in a new range and it hasn’t even started looking like it is going to level out yet!
A problem I think we accountants have is an attitude about business that, ‘There is nothing I don’t already know.’ I finally realized that although I probably already knew all the things I was going to learn out there at Sterling, I wasn’t using them. So, I decided to go out to Glendale to have them help me with implementation. I discovered when I got out there that those exact formulas were totally new to me—that was obviously where the core of my problem lay.
I like the Hubbard management technology because it works. It gives me a system where I don’t have to go out and try to re-invent the wheel to determine how to do something. I am able to just look at what kind of things do they do, what does Sterling suggest? I’ve been very impressed with it.
Like I said, I’ve seen several CPAs do the Sterling program and I know it turned their practices around. Now I go a step further and say, “I’ve seen what it did for me! It turned my practice around.” You’ve actually got to do it to get results, but if you do what’s there to be done, it will work. I can’t even imagine a situation it wouldn’t help.
Steven Gentry, CPA