I started working in our family-owned business right after graduation twelve years ago. We have done well, but there is always room for improvement. When I started, our sales were around $100,000 a year and I want to bring it up to a million-dollar level. We were halfway there, but there was a limit to how much I could grow it. I was already working 75-80 hours per week during tax season, and well over forty the rest of the year, yet I wasn’t getting compensated for all the hours I was putting in. I needed to find a way to grow it and make it more profitable without increasing my own hours any further.
I started by having a Sterling consultant come out to my office in January to start implementing the program before the peak of tax season. This helped us to put some organization in right away. The consultant trained the staff so the workflows were smoother and there was less confusion in the office.
We did that just in time. The practice was my father’s business and he passed away last year in March. That transition was a big challenge. I was on the phone regularly with my Sterling consultant on how to manage the workload in his absence and ensure that his clients smoothly transitioned to another accountant in our office. I thought that sales would drop last year, but instead both the gross and the net went up. It is a far better tribute to his legacy for the practice he founded to continue to grow, rather than collapse in his absence. There was no single “magic pill” that allowed us to grow during that period, but a lot of different improvements the program had made throughout the company.
Later, I went to Sterling’s offices and did my own training. The classes are great. They really solidified the principles and procedures so I could apply them on my own with greater ease and get better results. I have hired an office manager, which has helped tremendously, streamlined workflows and delegated more work to the staff so I don’t get overloaded.
Despite my father not being here, and a key employee getting sick in the middle of the tax season, we still managed to grow another fifteen percent this year and I was still able to cut my hours down a bit. There were some challenges, but we overcame them. There were no more 2 am or 4 am nights like there were in the past; I never worked past ten.
The program made me a better manager and a better owner. I became more productive, which helps with career and life. It has helped me to get greater satisfaction out of my work. I enjoy the work situations that come up and how I handle them.
Work is great, but I also enjoy my time away from the office. Vacations are not an issue any more. I put them on my calendar, I take them, and that is it.
Dario Zanichelli, CPA