Just Because the Market’s Slowing Down Doesn’t Mean You Have To: A Tactical, Practical Response

by & filed under All Articles, Growth Leadership.

Reprinted with permission from Accounting Today

It took a while, but the accounting profession is finally starting to feel the effects of the overall market slowdown. Although certain geographies appear immune, I’m seeing a softening in many parts of the country. Is it a surprise? Not in the slightest. Does it mean the boom is bust? Absolutely not!

Far from a dramatic drop, what I’m observing is that many firms are as busy as they have been in recent years. What’s changed is that prospects are not falling from the sky at the same clip. Everybody’s busy, but the pipeline is not as full. And, understandably, some people are questioning where it’s all going from here. We need not worry though. Within a few years IFRS will be in full swing, carrying demand for your services to new highs. But for now………

Waste Not

The shift in market conditions has resulted in lots of inquiries about how to anticipate and manage growth. That’s because when everything is going great guns, you can hold out your basket and easily catch what’s falling. Business has been so plentiful in recent years that some firms were able to grow without paying much attention at all to how it was happening. As a result, many CPAs never got in the habit of a disciplined approach to growth. Well guess what? It’s time to strap on those sneakers and start to exercise your growth muscle once again! It’s also time to stop wasting effort and resources. That’s a habit we simply can’t afford these days.

In order to tackle waste, you first need to know what it looks like. It can take many forms, like poor investment in marketing communications, failing to train people in the proper pursuit of opportunities, and believing you can secure solid business without investing the right kind of time in target niches.

With a measure of uncertainty looming, get tactical and practical in how you use resources. For example, I strongly advocate more advanced sales training and coaching for partners in times like these –to help them land today’s opportunities. But I don’t recommend putting a lot of resources into long-term initiatives like teaching your young people to sell. That can take years to develop, and it’s is not going to yield much in the short term when you need it. Hiring a trained business developer – someone with a sales background – might be valuable if you are willing to wait for a return on your investment for at least a year. Think twice about launching a major firm-wide brand development campaign, as these take a long time to bear fruit. Instead, use those dollars to brand in highly specific industries where you can win more immediate business.

Make Lemonade

Consider leveraging current conditions to create new service offerings. In a soft market, everyone needs advice on controlling costs. Maybe this is the time you develop a new consulting service line around efficiency and cost control. Some months ago I spoke with a CPA who has been a leader in the construction sector. I asked how he is responding to the residential building slowdown.

He acknowledged business was off, and said he didn’t have much of a game plan in place. But he brightened when I suggested that he consider counseling builders and developers in financial analysis and streamlining operations. Experienced with “lean” and Six Sigma processes, he jumped in enthusiastically.

Benchmarking is a hot area right now. Firms are realizing that they have the data to develop benchmarking offerings, and clients are always interested in comparing their performance again competitors. Because it’s a wide open space, you can often be first to market with a creative initiative – because there is no end to what can be benchmarked!

It’s true. There’s a tapping of the brakes on the superhighway of success. But with careful management of your time and resources, and a laser-like focus on results, you’ll sail through the express lane and into a successful new year.

Gale Crosley

About Gale Crosley

Gale Crosley, CPA, has been awarded The Advisory Board Hall of Fame. She was selected one of the Most Recommended Consultants in the Inside Public Accounting BEST OF THE BEST Annual Survey of Firms for fifteen years, and one of the Top 100 Most Influential People in Accounting by AccountingToday for fourteen years. She is an honors accounting graduate from the University of Akron, Ohio, winner of the Simonetti Distinguished Business Alumni Award, and an Editorial Advisor for the Journal of Accountancy. Gale is founder and principal of Crosley+Company, providing revenue growth consulting and coaching to CPA firms. She brings more than 30 years of experience, featuring a unique combination as a practicing CPA in two national accounting firms, along with significant experience in business development in the cutting edge technology environment with such firms as IBM and MCI.

View all posts by Gale Crosley →

Leave a Reply

  • (will not be published)

XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title="" rel=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>