Improving Job profitability
Firm 1 (name withheld for sensitivity/confidential reasons)
This 300 person firm was experiencing high levels of write-downs combined with a high level of staff turnover at manager level. Motivation levels were low and there was a significant issue with morale and a disconnect between partners and managers.
Action: I consulted with the partners and highlighted a few of the key areas where I could assist them.
How did we conduct this engagement?
The managers met with me for just one day only. We embarked on my “Manager Audit Management course. This involves looking at client service; budgeting, pricing and some unique processes for better managing job profitability. This workshop starts off by an announcement that I cannot introduce any change during the day – so there is no threat to the partners having their firm “hijacked.”
The workshop is attended by a maximum of three partners who listen and watch the day’s journey. Everyone is told they have to make three recommends to the partner group and the partner group has been advised that they must take the managers recommends “seriously” and give them feedback. Is there more to this day? YES! But this gives some insight into how we approach this type of work.
Immediate: Managers realised that they had to start capturing all time. Better ways of managing their jobs were agreed with the partners.
That evening: The managing partner came round unannounced to my hotel and said “What happened? I am hearing some amazing feedback from those I have spoken to.
Two Years On: Morale remains high, job profitability has improved significantly and motivation levels high.
Firm 2 (name withheld for sensitivity/confidential reasons)
The issues with this Top 20 firm were significant. Partners and managers were leaving. Lock up exceeded 70% of annual revenues.
How did we conduct this engagement?
We started with a partner and manager survey. The feedback was used as basis for the consultancy. We worked with a very small group of partners and created a strategy revolving around partner/manager circle groups.
The initiative was launched at a partners meeting. On partner was heard to say “This is the best partners meeting we have ever had”
This was a situation where there was a lot of turn around work. Attitudes. Performance. Reconnecting with managers and staff. Six months after the end of stage 1 the feedback was electrifying. “Everything feels so very different, we are working as a team like never before.”
Morgan Cameron – Oxfordshire, UK
Early in 2012 Alan and Margaret Thornton asked to meet. Why? They were struggling to make adequate profits, despite working very long hours and did not know how to change that. They even wondered if they should sell up and go and work elsewhere to be more financially secure. Their situation was really concerning to them – what could or should they do?
Alan and Margaret were partners in the accountancy firm Morgan Cameron based in Witney, Oxfordshire, UK. They enjoyed a high reputation locally and had a good range of clients including many international tax clients.
The firm employed 12 staff; quite a few of them long standing team members.
The first stage of our work together involved looking at their options – should they sell up or continue? And if the decision was to continue then it could only be on the basis that they believed that profit improvement was a reality.
In 2012 the decision was taken to continue and to work alongside Mark. This involved agreeing key actions, setting some KPIs and meeting together three times a year. One of these meetings each year involved a staff retreat which was an event I [perhaps reluctantly when it came to the team games] participated in so that the team were used to seeing me around.
Five years after we started working together Margaret and Alan had enjoyed consistently higher returns from their accountancy business and in 2017 were able to command a sale price for their business that was very significantly greater than ever they could have expected.
Margaret was quoted on Accounting WEB, UK “For many years, until we sold our business, Mark Lloydbottom was our mentor – best thing we ever did was ask him to advise us.”
The author of the article, Richard Sergeant, went on to say, “Lloydbottom is a long standing specialist working with accountants globally (and to ease Reader’s mind, someone who has built up and sold several highly profitable businesses including an accounting practice).
Working with Alan and Margaret has been a real pleasure. I have seen them work hard. Their success was not achieved over night. To say they both grafted hard is an understatement. They faced the challenges believing fully in the strategic blueprint that had been agreed. Truthfully, the success is all theirs – as are the rewards. My role? Maybe as an external counsellor and someone they respected and who they looked to for independent guidance. I would never wish to claim success personally – my success comes from seeing others succeed.
Robert is a highly successful sole practitioner based in Oxted, Surrey. We first met at a seminar in 2000 and subsequently he became a client through to 2017 when he sold his accountancy business. He engaged me while recognising that as a sole practitioner life can be lonely and he knew the experience and expertise that I could bring to him and the running of his practice.
My journey with Robert was different compared with many of my other clients in that he was very leading edge in a number of areas and he really wanted to share his success with a peer. However, in order to bring some value into his workplace I suggested a few strategies that he implemented. These included agreeing and monitoring KPIs in such areas as client meetings and new business gains – it always impressed me that the gains were steady and incremental month on month.
I met with Robert regularly and seen his business grown to be one of the larger sole practitioners in the UK.
Some of the keys to his success? Robert is an entrepreurial individual with a good understanding of what it takes to build a successful practice. Networking. Great client service. Growth in the top and bottom lines. Making sure the right staff are in place and so on. Marketing – including some very well attended seminars and writing his own client help sheets.
Throughout our relationship Robert listened to my counsel and I was able to observe the success he enjoyed in running a, larger than most sole practitioner, UK accountancy businesses.
Robert was in every sense an ideal client so I even invited him to author a chapter in Deeper, one of my manuals on running a successful accountancy business.