The 1, 2, 3 Practice Management Series
from Added Value Corporation Pty Ltd
Some of these may be new to you, others familiar from previous readings and seminars. Regardless, almost all suggested actions will take courage to consider, implement and change.
1. Go away to review the firm
Grab the data on the firm and go away for a day. Review your results, compare with benchmark data, if you have it. Work out what creates the majority of your profit. Consider how you feel about the practice, what do you enjoy, what is annoying, what would you like to change, etc.
Determine what you would like to achieve and change, be specific. These are your goals, prioritise them. Develop action steps for two of the goals. Assuming you feel courageous, select at least one tough goal, plus one Low Hanging Fruit (for a quick sense of achievement). If possible, involve another person in your considerations and conclusions.
2. Select at least two actions to implement each month
Work on just the two selected goals. Each month work through the action lists to move you closer to achieving those two goals.
3. Be courageous, remove issues that irritate you
These may be difficult clients. Mind you, if you can raise and recover high fees, then some clients, though irritating, can be tolerated. If it is unpleasant work, try to delegate or outsource it. Maybe it can be sold to another firm? Do your premises need to be changed?
If the issue is staff, then attack it, don’t just hope things will get better.
A practice manager told me the partners had avoided dealing with an underperforming accountant, nor would they authorise action by the practice manager. At last the accountant is now leaving. If the partners were to calculate the cost over the years in terms of write offs, lost hours, training fees, negative effect on others, they would be horrified.
4. Improve your own performance
To what extent are you the problem? I remember my amusement when I read some case studies in Marshall Goldsmith’s “What Got You Here Won’t Get You There”. One man was a bully at work, but maintained at home he was a “pussy cat”. Marshall Goldsmith interviewed fellow workers and clients, then when he asked the man’s family, they burst out laughing! It seems the man had no idea what kind of person he was at home, nor that bullying was not appropriate in the workplace. Improve your communication skills, there are some tips in the Goldsmith book.
If it feels awkward, practice and learn to do it better. Roles plays can help. Remember to sell what you do, explain to clients the benefits you achieve for them, otherwise, how can they properly value what you do? Each year meet with clients and review what you have achieved for them. Then you can more easily ask for referrals of possible new work.
Also, with staff, are you able to articulate the benefits for them of working at your firm? Do you have a document that lists these benefits?
6. Network well and ask questions
Get out of the office, go to events. Arrange to meet colleagues, clients and contacts for coffee or drinks. Even if you feel shy, learn to move around at event breaks and Cocktail Parties. Take an interest in others. Ask business people how they got started in their business, what did they learn at the seminar, who has been their greatest influence, indeed do they like their business? Ask people for their best business tip, how they manage their time, what they look for when hiring people, what they do to understand and motivate their people, etc. Then apply some of what you learn.
Many issues contribute to improving profit, luckily we can make many gradual changes and over time create significant improvements in our profits.
This article was written by © Thea Foster of Added Value Corporation. Learn more about Added Value Corporation www.addedvalue.com.au
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