I opened my practice in the back bedroom of my house in 1995 and am now up to eight full time staff, plus some part-timers. I teach at the local Catholic college, so I frequently have interns from there.
The growth hadn’t come easily. There were times during tax seasons when I would ask myself how much longer I could take this. Coming into the office on Sundays felt like prison. I was feeling totally beat up all the time and wasn’t being compensated for my efforts. Sometimes near the end of the year I wasn’t even getting a paycheck. I was working tons of hours just so others could get paid.
After the 2003 tax season, I’d had enough of working so hard and not having any money to show for it, so I called Sterling. Just from that phone call, I could tell they really understood the problems accountants face and knew how to resolve those problems.
I loved the management courses I took at Sterling’s offices. I have been to courses taught by others where I couldn’t even remember what they talked about the next day. What is amazing about the Sterling courses is that three years later I still remember the things I learned there and I still benefit from using that data. My consultant worked out a plan for my office and she has been there with me every step of the way to ensure that it actually gets implemented.
When I got back home, I no longer felt like I was trying to work in the middle of a tornado. Instead, I could clearly see exactly what was going on in the office and start taking steps to improve it. I organized the staff schedules and established procedures to improve our efficiency and client service. I started hiring the right people, and have now built a team of capable and caring employees. With the improved efficiency, we were not only able to get the tax returns done on time, but we were able to spend more time one-on-one with the clients, going beyond the basics. Everyone became happier since they were delivering better service in a smoothly running, stress-free office. The change wasn’t just visible to the staff. I remember several of the clients commenting on the difference; in fact, one even offered to pay me to tell him my “secrets.”
The practice started growing right away, and hasn’t stopped since. The first year, we saw a 33% growth rate. The second year we grew 12% and this year have added another 20%. Unlike before, the practice is profitable. I haven’t skipped a paycheck in two years and my husband was able to quit his job and come work with me.
This tax season was my easiest ever and it was absolutely our best ever in terms of getting the work out the door on time. I was also able to cut way back on my hours. I used to work 90 hours a week for two months straight, often getting up at three in the morning to get some work done. This year, I didn’t do that. During the two toughest weeks—corporate and individual deadlines—I worked 60 to 70 hours, but the rest of the time it was far less.
Prior to Sterling, I was a competent accountant, but I didn’t know how to run a business. When people came looking for advice on how to run their business, I wouldn’t know what to tell them. Now I do. With my own clients, I am able to give them some basic ideas to help smooth things out. For other accountants, however, I would advise they give Sterling a call. I know that if I had to do it over again, I would do it in a heartbeat. Sterling is a part of my team and has contributed greatly to my success.
Patsy Porter, CPA