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Submitted by: Peter Breyer

This is the story of Kim Furrh, who bought a CPA practice…

There are accounting firms that are struggling to get the work done and completed in a timely fashion. In Kim Furrhs practice they had an entirely different problem they couldn’t get the work done if their life depended on it!

In 2006 Kim bought the firm from its previous owners who were leaving the practice and though she was competent enough she had never run a business before and when the owners left she was on her own with all the problems that the former partners had dealt with. Not only couldn’t the files be found, but nobody knew where the audits were for the Worker’s Comps and so they drowned in confusion.

Moreover, she had a receptionist on staff who only answered the phone and did little else. She regularly got sick and burdened the other employees with her duties. When she left the firm they had other five or six receptionists who couldn’t stand the calls from irate clients and left too.

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In addition to the receptionist Kim had three bookkeepers who waited for orders to get the next job and didn’t speak up when they had completed their tasks. It was a nightmare and she was at the end of her wits.

Kim worked 60 hours a week in the off-season and during the tax season, she worked from 6 am to 11 pm, seven days a week. Her husband meanwhile filed for divorce as she was never at home and when she was, she was grumpy and in no mood to talk to him. To make matters worse, they had a daughter whom she didn’t spent any time with either and so she grew close to her husband and as a result hated her mother.

Needless to say, she was desperate for change and couldn’t wait anymore. Kim was already familiar with Sterling and sent away for their DVD and got an introductory consultation into CPA practice management. In January 2013, she did their full training in Accounting Practice Management, which included tailor-made consulting and management courses. Having already a sterling record in bringing management training to practices, she asked Sterling to come and train the staff.

Sterling did exactly that. They came to her practice and untangled the mess they were in. They defined the duties of the staff and put them up on an organizing board which was posted in the office so everybody could refer to it. Kim further made job descriptions for every staff which determined the exact duties so each staff knew exactly what to do.

Sterling furthermore introduced a management by statistic system where each employee keeps a graph that shows how much they produced on their particular function. That was particularly helpful for Kim so she could evaluate their productivity. She discovered that some people of whom she thought were good producers actually were not. That really opened her eyes as to who was producing and who was not and using Sterling personnel tests she replaced the staff who were not pulling their weight with creative, energetic and upbeat staff. She realized that although the applicants can fake it in a job interview they can’t fool the tests.

Since starting with Sterling on the CPA firm practice management course, almost a year ago, the profitability of her firm has increased by 6 times. The staff are motivated and productive and they come forward with ideas on how to improve the workflow to service the clients better. She is now working on opening a second location, something that she would have never conceive of before they started working with Sterling. The Sterling expertise in CPA practice management really has made all that possible.

Better yet, she is far happier, much less stressed and has more time for her friends and family. But the greatest benefit to her was one she never expected: the relationship with her daughter has completely changed. They get along great. Even though she left for college, they are on the phone three to four times a day just to chat. She attributes the change in her to the change in me.

Sterling gave her the life back, she thought she had lost and for that she is forever thankful.

About the Author: Peter Breyer has worked with CPA’s and Accountants for many years. This story was particularly relevant as it shows what can happen when the owner doesn’t have any experience in managing a practice and Sterling Management helped her out.


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