In this podcast, our expert speakers Chris Rivera and Scott Finkelstein had discussed - Learn about systematic business coaching methods in overcoming challenges for your firm. Listen to the podcast to know more.
#BKOT 26: BUILD A KICKASS OFFSHORE TEAM
LEARN ABOUT SYSTEMATIC BUSINESS COACHING METHODS IN OVERCOMING CHALLENGES FOR YOUR FIRM
Hosted by: Chris Rivera, Director Client relations, Entigrity Offshore Staffing
Guest: Scott Finkelstein, Head Coach & Owner, Action Coach
Chris: Alright! Happy Monday everybody. Sorry a few minutes late. I got a new Macbook and obviously I don't remember any of my passwords but we're good to go. Very excited to have you guys back. Our first podcast of the new year right. Hopefully everyone had a good holiday season and we're bringing you number 26 today #BKOT. With me I have a special guest I have out of Austin Texas, Owner and head coach of Action Coach, Scott Finkelstein and today guys we're going to be learning about systematic business coaching methods and overcoming challenges for your firm. So I think you'll like this one because we all need help as far as managing our time, sales and marketing and leadership. So let's get this started. Scott, thank you so much today for joining us. Please tell us about yourself and the floor is yours.
Scott: Sounds good thanks Chris thanks for having me and hello to everyone happy new year I think we can still say that right for a couple more.
Chris: Yes for sure!
Scott: It's been great here, awesome. Yesterday we got snow for the first time in a few years, so it was fun to be here and get the year off that way but it's 2021. Yeah thanks for having me. I mean myself we've said a little about me after a 30-year corporate career, typically running the sales part of the organizations. A year and a half ago I moved to Austin. I bought a franchise call action coach for 30 years and it's really about supporting our local communities and specifically the small business owners and entrepreneurs and their teams to just bring success to their business and whatever that means for each and every one of them. You know a lot of business owners out there work way too many hours and don't quite make the money, they thought they would when they said they had this big old dream. I am gonna open a business. And we help make those dreams become reality, increase their income, increase their joy in the business and as important increase their time out of the business and there's a lot of ways we do that but that's kind of what our focus is for all.
Chris: You said it spot on! Accountants work too much in the business and they need too. It could be different like you said it could be maybe needing more clients or it could be how to effectively drive more business from their existing clients right. So I love what you said about that and it's very important so it all starts with the whole marketing piece right and so in working with accounting firms, my question is for one working with small businesses in general what do you see different and how do you approach it in the marketing aspect for accounting firms?
Scott: Great question, It does start with marketing and it's funny we always say sales and marketing, but it's actually marketing and sales and I talk about this all the time. If you don't market well which is what I like to call the fuel to your sales rocket ship, you mean getting people into your sales funnel then you have no one to sell to. And so many people even in the corporate world confuse the two. There's a big difference but the messaging is the same, it's just the different components of the message so for accounting firms and we work with some of the good ones here in Austin and all over the states actually.
They can double their business just from their own client. It truly is we did a workshop last week that actually called 21 steps to building your referral engine and especially for accounting firms because when you look at when they list who are the top advisors that people trust the most in their life.
Number one typically if not number two is the accountant. So you have to know how to do, you've got that trust which you know Chris you know your sales guy too sales is about building trust so I can convince you show you how we can help you whatever your widget or service right.
Scott: Level of trust already we just got to turn real help them realize and that's what we do in a lot of coaching is you are a salesperson let's give you the scripts let's teach you the system to sell within your client base. Let alone in your community and one of our accountants accounting firms we work with we've brought over 50% growth in 2020 just from the referral system.
Chris: Yeah, well said. I have worked in different industries over the last 15 years now and references have always been a powerful tool but also when you referred when someone's referring you it's just it's more of a relaxed consultation, it's not it puts them at ease and it's like okay you know somebody said great things about you tell me why and how. So it's very important to start right then and there and yeah the account is it is a powerful resource right and so spot on right if they like you they trust you, they trust you, they're willing to hear you out right you could be the smartest person on this planet but if they don't like you it's not going to work out right. And so in regards to referrals right do you find that doing it in a way of the small things right the birthdays or come up or little reminders or do you find that like reference referral groups where they're sharing best practices or is there anything specific a tip to share with us today?
Scott: There's a while there's a lot of tips we could do there but all that's true all that is has to happen, but it really comes down to; are you doing it in every aspect of your client interaction. So at the end of every email you're sending to your clients in mind. You know over the last week I have gotten inundated with emails from my CPA because they do my personal and my business. Okay we're getting you ready this and that and because they're also my client guess what it says at the end of each email, Is there anyone you know is there anyone else we can help you know so you have to constantly be asking in every interaction which then gets into the higher the bigger part picture of it all which is you need to train your clients that one I am gonna keep asking for referrals and two it's a requirement of doing business with me. And then they're ready for it and then they start thinking now just like you weren't your marketing you gotta or in a commercial you have to ask seven times something is I think is a number for it to resonate with people. Well it's the same thing in referrals you gotta keep asking and asking to where it starts resonating with them that they start thinking about.
Chris: Yeah there's a touch point right. So yeah it's like five to seven times you know they see an email, they get a call, they meet with you in person, they get a e-newsletter and they see your Ad in the paper or online.
And it just keeps popping up right and so those are some. So referrals are very powerful but what have you found to drive new clients to social media and print Ads, digital in this day and age of this ongoing pandemic becoming virtual. What would you say another step so you're working on your existing base you're having that touch point all day long. Now you're trying to bring in through a different avenue I mean there's so many so many different ways out there to start. Where would you say that after working on your existing client base where else should they start?
Scott: They should be going to every networking event they can within their community, because everyone needs a CPA, everyone needs an accountant, and most of them there as you know our sole entrepreneurs or small business owners they need someone to help with their bookkeeping as well all the things I know you can help support the firms with as well they need all that so go to these networking events we script out the 30 to 40 second pitch you have so that you sound different that you're not just that, hey it's Scott with ABC CPA and I can do your taxes okay. You know in sales Chris you gotta connect with people.
Chris: That's so funny, people do that.
Scott: So yeah I want to see my accounting firms getting out into the marketplace as themselves the ones who get to about 10 and 10 people on their team. We start to look at can we hire a salesperson business development person but even that to see the smaller firms too get out there especially prior to whereabouts as you know it's a real busy season for all these guys.
You got to be out there you know not including 2020 after April 15th take a vacation and you should be out there until December 31st building up your referral partners, getting in new clients, depending you know are you if it's individual you're going to market at a different the end of the year where they're if you're doing bookkeeping as well during the business accounting side then you're marketing all year round, you just gotta get out there I said you know you're going to post of course on social media, you're going to have your newsletter those are the slow drip campaigns you have but if you want to bring on clients right away. It's a comp it's getting your getting out there it's getting to these networking events going to your chamber events.
Being a guest speaker by the way just like myself is my coaching business as you know you and I got issues because I was doing a workshop the other week with a mutual partner out there. Everyone wants to hear from the CPA how they can reduce their tax bracket whether it's in business or personal all these chambers you name the event, they'll let you talk for five to fifteen minutes let them know you want to.
Chris: Well said, yeah it's spot on. With the touch points getting your name, your face out there and even now in this virtual environment everyone's switching over not becoming fully virtual but they're switching over and offering events online. I see them all the time on Linkedin. You got to take advantage of it absolutely.
Now let's move on to now we have clients coming in and we're busy and now we're talking about you know time management which is a lot of clients I speak with literally work 70-80 hours a week and they're getting it done but it's got to be a more effective way. So, how would you start an approach and guide some clients with time management skills?
Scott: Yeah great question, we call we do a workshop time management from chaos to control that's the title of it right. And especially god this last year there's a lot of chaos for everyone we had our kids at home, while we're trying to work. The dogs barking in the background you name it right. So, but in the end, time management is about control and I love when people say to me well I just don't have control of my calendar.
Yes, you do take control you know call timeout and say stop. Don't let people just put things on your calendar. Control the amount of time you meet with people in the best way we start with all that is what we call time study and I will have them for up to a week literally every 30 minutes they have just a sheet of paper or an accountant so they have a spreadsheet pulled up. And from 8 to 8:30 at the end summarize what you did for the today and keep going through that and then at the end we're going to come back through the exercise and we're going to we're going to kind of title each one what category of the five to seven we'll probably say everything falls under and then they see where they're spending all this time.
And it's like wow it's eye opening so then from there we start figuring out okay do we need to spend 20 hours a week on email and the answer is always no there by the way. You know so we can start doing that if they're the leader of the group or manager or it's their firm how do we delegate, so in our time management workshop we get into delegation. We also get into everyone's kind of getting back into the offices now depending where you are in the country of course. Having office hours within the office for your team so that they are prepared instead of Chris you know I have worked in offices off and on for many decades right and how often someone pops in your office and next thing you know 20 minutes later they stop and ask the question. So it's I can go on for hours on this but it's getting control it's setting expectations and it's when you have people on your team under you it's letting them know when your office is open, come on in open hours so to speak open swim versus hey I don't have Scott's not available right now. I am gonna save my questions to myself one-on-one on Monday or at four o'clock every day. I am allowed to know that Chris is open for me to pop in it's training too. That's just the beginning of time management by the way.
Chris: Yeah, it's pivotal. Simply because in the office environment clients would pop in right unexpectedly. Now our clients are calling unexpectedly and they're taking the phone calls. I have had many appointments set with clients and they miss them and they're just so apologetic and it happens all the time. I have gotten used to it but they're so apologetic because they just didn't have control of their schedule.
You know they allowed this to happen and I find that myself too included technology has helped us out as well having everything scheduled, having you utilizing different platforms have certain links you could send out if it's or are options right. I think you had it too like 15 minutes if you want to talk about this, 30 minutes if you want to talk about this, 45 minutes if you need to talk about this and so having those options utilizing technology is an avenue to help get that control because you can't just wing it, especially nowadays with you got to have the technology in place. There's many different options available out there. Have you found out prior to pandemic and now using technology has increased to stay the same or what are your thoughts with that?
Scott: Definitely increased! I am on all levels obviously being able to do a zoom meeting with a client saves your travel time. So even if they're five minutes down the road it's five minutes until you get to your car five minutes in the car, it adds up really fast, so technology has allowed us to have more time to be productive, but it's also caused some people to work too many hours. So it's a combination so you got to know and to shut it off. I use what you're talking about. I use calendly. There's a whole bunch of them out there. A lot of my clients who say use it this way instead of going back and forth your technology benefits time management.
Hey Chris you want to meet here's my calendar go click it on and go schedule something. Okay great but if I don't get specific based on the meaning that hey I only have sales calls from eight to one Monday, Wednesday, Friday and three to even you know then all of a sudden you've given control I have given you control of my calendar so you've got to use technology the right way and when you do it your time is money.
And we've all heard that one of my CPA firms' goals, CPA firms are similar to law firms. It's about billable hours especially for the bookkeepers right. Theirs were averaging about 72% billable hours our target was 85% we did about a three hour time management workshop with the whole team and then we had a whole bunch of follow-up. I trained the trainer and all that within two and a half months we got their bookkeepers from 72% to 85% billable hours. Think about two things one how that affects the bottom line positively but number two everyone started getting home earlier as you tell you know better than me in this industry especially as we get into tax season they're working 70 and 80 hours and on Saturday. Yeah it's we want time management gives you two things yes it will give you more profitable income but two more importantly at least the way I look at life is it gives me more time in my life and out of my business.
Chris: Yeah, I always hear that it's like you're an accountant and you like to accept this role and idea that you're gonna work every day 24 hours a day, seven days a week. And it's they're accepting it but it's not necessarily needs to happen right and control utilizing technology the right way and you're spot on with that because I forgot I we use calendly right but I forgot to put in a lunch break so every day I am like what the heck, I never eat and then so I structured it to where you know I have a podcast link, I have a client link and then Chris type.
And so yeah you're spot out with that for a month I didn't realize this like why am I never eating and I am like there's no break and so it could be your best friend but if you don't utilize it properly yeah you're never going to eat.
The last thing that I want to talk about is the leadership skills. So you got clients, you got control of your schedule, things are going well, now leadership can go many different ways and I am researching more and like how to become a stronger virtual leader. But in general if I find that if you're a leader and you can bark orders all day long but I feel that if you're working alongside your staff and your associates and is more effective and also showing some vulnerability right you may know it all but you can't really show that. So talk to me about the leadership aspect of this and how accounting firms can you know utilize this in a positive way?
Scott: Yeah great question thank you. All leadership starts with self-leadership. I can't be a strong influence positively in your life if when you look at me you don't see someone who has self-leadership and so you gotta have we start in leadership with all leaders and yes in the accounting world with self-leadership what kind of firm do you want to be? What's the vision and value you want your firm to have? and it starts internal the old herb keller from southwest airlines you take good care of your employees, they'll take good care of your clients and that's you know in listen our accountants are bookkeepers they take good care of all their clients, but they don't take good care of themselves so I focus on the self-leadership with the owner of the firm and for each person in there for all them to recognize to your point.
No you're not supposed to work 70 hours, you're supposed to have family night we're one of my CPAS one of the biggest things we did for her last year is Friday night. She started attending movie night with the kid with her family. You know and what that does again time management is about that more than the money because you can't that's worth an infinite amount but it starts with the self-leadership and then you're right being there being that servant leader where you are by their side showing you're setting the example, but as a leader you're bringing in like the firm did they brought me in to teach them to have better time management. So it's giving them the tools to be successful in their role within the firm and additionally if you really structure your training which is what I have always done in my career to read more life training than business training, because every role I guess there's technical pieces to accountants of course.
But a lot of what they do every day is about life training and that's just the approach so we work on all that and then again like I said for the especially in this industry.The head of that company that firm has to say Chris you're going home you're done goodbye it's right it's five o'clock Friday, go be with your family you know outside of maybe that last month of march 15th to April 15th but we can still cut that down by 10 or 15 percent of those 70 hour weeks that's a big deal.
Chris: Yeah yeah, like I mentioned earlier you get into this industry and you think it's 24*7 all year round. Yeah towards that deadline it will be but the rest of the month, it doesn't have to be it does not have to be whatsoever and it's important to ask for help and that's why we have resources like you and I myself I could be stubborn and so I have a way and it works but over the years I have opened feedback, coaching, criticism and take it in try and ask for help it's important.
Showing vulnerability and resources like you is important to help us to have control of not only our work but also our lives and for our own health aspect. I mean there's all these articles I am reading online mental health is deteriorating I mean I have worked from home for four years and so I don't see myself going back to an office, but it took me seven months to figure out what the heck I am doing right. And so it's important to have that work life balance for sure.
And so in regards to staffing-wise right so I know you don't work too much with offshore staff but where do you think this could integrate when you see it going forward and your thoughts about it and leveraging especially with a time zone difference.
Scott: No, I am a big fan of offshore staffing and I work with all my clients and a lot especially during busy seasons, so a couple of my CPA firms we've been looking at in December. What's what are we going to need once we hit February 1 that's kind of what they say is when we really need we want to bring people in before then so we can train them on our way and offshoring is a great way to go the talent level out there is enormous especially if you're in a small community you know maybe a rural area where you can't find the talent. What you guys offer is amazing, it's just getting with you guys figuring out what their needs are so I am a big fan of that in many aspects like I know you guys do virtual assistants. All these things we can take that proverbial hat off the owner's head and get someone else do it at a price point that makes sense that still gives us this great customer service, technical skills all that why wouldn't you do it.
Chris: Yeah, it's important to have the right staff in place and so you know utilizing your strategies, utilizing the right staff, the combination you need a local team, no matter what local even remote you got to have them but an offshore team adds value and help building a better work-life balance and driving revenue for sure. And so Scott tell me a couple of the programs that you do and it's maybe a recommendation of where someone should start with you and kind of how long they take. So, tell me a little bit about your program?
Scott: Oh thank you. I appreciate it a few different ways. We have a lot of different programs.
So typically with the accounting firms we'll get into one-on-one coaching we're working with the owner and for some of them to also bring in their most senior team member and we're doing one-on-one coaching and all the topics we've covered in more, we're gonna first build the road map. We're at point a this is the current state what do we want the future state to look like and we build our road map backwards and that's what we work on every week and every 90 days we do we do planning.
We get together for half a day and we plan out the next 13 weeks so that's typically where we'll start now for some sole proprietors out there or maybe it's only three of them where they still need to bring that revenue up so they can invest in a full coaching program we've got what we call our sales scalers program and that's a low investment entry into coaching we just focus on sales and marketing. And it's in a group environment and we're going to help let's ramp things up the right way of course, so that you can get to the goal of one-on-one coaching and those are the two main programs but for anyone to your other last question of how they get started anyone listening just go to our website that's webelieveingrowth.com and just click on the blue button complimentary coaching session.
We want to help you want to talk about anything it's a 30-minute session we'll talk about it and if you want from there typically we'll do a 90-minute strategy session which also is complementary and from there at the end we'll you'll have a road map to go do it yourselves there's a lot of DIY’s out there and that's great other ones will say what kind of coaching program makes sense for me well we'll structure the right program for them.
Chris: Beautiful! Awesome! Thank you for that. So winding down just some final thoughts from you on your side again appreciate everything you've said but any final thoughts for our audience out there today?
Scott: Yeah, first thank you Chris for the opportunity to reach the audience. I mean I of course I got into coaching after three year corporate clerks that wanted to help small businesses. I have sold a lot to them and I see the help that they need. So that's why I got into coaching there's a lot of uncertainties in 2021, there still are more than in 2020 you could argue. Get a coach, put a plan together, get a coach just if it's not me there's amazing coaches out there just like we talked earlier. I might not be the one for you, maybe it's someone else getting a coach. I have a coach I pay him every month to put his foot up my butt as I like to say but you all need it you can't no one, can go through this by themselves especially with what this last 12 months are what 2021 is going to be there's great room for growth.
Absolutely I love my CPA and accounting clients have been growing but you need help, we all do so find the help as I said webelieveingrowth.com we're here to help go to your local chapter somewhere else in your community, chamber and find a great coach locally if you need but get the help you need because it pays itself exponentially in the return on the investment it truly does.
Chris: I absolutely agree with Scott. So everyone thank you for taking time out of your busy Monday #BKOT to look up other of our podcast series. We are working on a few others as we speak and so again thanks for your time Scott this was awesome. I had a lot of fun. Thank you so much for taking time out of your schedule to speak to our audience today and good luck with the snow. Do you guys have any like what do you call them snow plows out there?
Scott: I was like it's no I grew up on the east coast where you are as you know now it's looking out my window eighty percent it's already melted.
Chris: Oh makes sense, all right cool, well stay safe out there. Again thanks for your time and everyone else we'll speak soon take care, stay safe, be good everybody.
Scott: Thanks Chris thanks everyone.
Entigrity™ is a trusted offshore staffing partner to over 500+ accountants, CPAs and tax firms across the US and Canada. Our flexible and transparent hiring model gives helps firms of all sizes to hire staff for accounting, bookkeeping, tax preparation or any other task for 75% less cost. As a firm 'run by accountants, for the accountants', Entigrity captures the hiring needs of accounting firms most precisely, providing staff that works directly under your control and management, still you are left with least to worry about compliance, payroll taxes, overheads or any other benefits.