Yesterday was April 15th and everything was finished shortly after lunch. The day before I only worked half a day.
Was business slow for me this year? No, in fact, it was a far busier tax season than last year. The difference is that this year I became a Sterling client and learned the right way to run an accounting practice.
This wasn’t my first experience with Sterling. As is usual, after receiving my accounting degree in 1994 I went to work in another accounting firm for a few years. During that time the owner of that firm started using Sterling and I saw what a difference it made.
Then in November 1997, I opened my own practice in St. Mary’s, Ohio, with a branch office in nearby St. Henry. After five years I was working way too many hours, but the practice still wasn’t very viable and I wasn’t making the money I thought I should be.
Then I received a postcard from Sterling. I decided to do what my former employer did and gave them a call. My wife and I went out to their office for four days in August and then I went back two weeks later to complete the program. I still remembered some of the information from when I first studied it years earlier, but it was great to get a refresher on it and take a look at how to use it now that I am the boss rather than an employee.
One aspect of the program that was particularly helpful was learning more about how to understand and deal with people, whether they are staff, clients, friends or family. The interpersonal relations in any office are key to how smoothly it operates and I no longer have the conflicts and arguments that used to be a regular part of the work environment. I even learned how to get my children to put on their pajamas without a fight!
Since that time, and with the continuing guidance of my consultant, I have been able to smooth out the way things go in the office and get more work done. For example, I don’t have staff continually coming into the office and interrupting me when I’m on the phone with a client.
But the real test of a management program for any accounting practice comes down to two things—time and money. So, how am I doing on those two areas? Well, last year I worked eighty hours during tax season and sixty the rest of the year. In fact, my schedule was so tight that I went for an entire week without seeing my then-two-year-old daughter once.
This year, now that everyone knows what their jobs are and how to do them, the office runs much smoother and the work gets done faster. As a result, I was able to cut back to sixty-five hours during the tax season and didn’t work any Sundays. I was able to spend quality time with my loving wife and all three of my kids every day!
During the off-season, I will only be working thirty-two hours per week instead of the sixty I used to put in. I also find that I am able now to leave the office for a week without constantly worrying that there will be some disaster in my absence. I can actually enjoy some time off instead of having to keep calling in and handling the problems that crop up.
What about money? My billings are fifty-five percent increased compared to a year ago and the cash flow is vastly improved. It took me about six months to pay off what I invested in the Sterling program. I counsel a lot of clients on investments and there aren’t many that produce this fast of a return.
Dean Moller, CPA