“One of the biggest challenges people are having in our industry is talent.”
Susan Bryant, recognized as one of the Top 50 Women in Accounting (Ignition 2021) and firm owner of MB Group in Plano TX, joins us on this episode to discuss staffing, pricing, and client acquisition from an insightful, high level POV.
Susan’s people first focus and desire to make public accounting awesome again has not gone unnoticed. Her work and intention toward staff has landed her and her business on Inc. magazine’s Best Workplaces of 2022 List. So you know she’s on to something BIG.
As Susan put it, “People are not lining up to work in public accounting.” Her tactic is to make people the primary center of her business, both from an employee and client standpoint.
Accounting is a service and people are the core of that service. She looks for people who are hungry for growth and opportunity. It’s about attitude first then the ability. Gone are the days of just trying to make an experienced hire. You have to get creative in today’s talent market. It’s off shore, college grads, and unconventional hires. You can often teach the skills of the trade, but you can’t teach grit and innovative thinking.
She also invests a lot of time in helping her team be autonomous and relationship focused. The staff should be owning their client relationships. (An assignable non-solicitation agreement from the staff makes owning relationships easy to let go of.)
The first thing Susan got clarity on is the WHY for her business, her mission, and properly igniting that why in her team.
Susan’s mission involves showing her team that they have the ability to change their client’s financial future with the work they do and how meaningful that ability is. Susan emphasizes to her team that they have the power to influence their client’s ability to grow their business, send their kids to college, travel, or retire. If your team sees the big picture, it influences how they interact with the everyday tasks.
Susan also insists that training and onboarding has to be “an experience.”
You have to be prepared when new hires walk through the door and know where they are going. You have to explain what track they are on and take feedback on what kind of work they like and what kind of work they don’t. Help them pursue certifications, invest in their growth and their goals. This is how you move someone from preparer to advisor and good onboarding is the start of that.
When it comes to revenue, Susan echoed our sentiments about pricing.
“You have to go up on your fees” and “don’t give anything away for free.” Susan made a good point that accountants sometimes are bleeding hearts. You want to help the little old lady that needs her personal taxes done. You think, “Well this won’t take me much time, I will just do this return, it won’t be a big deal.” Then before you know it, you have spent double the hours you intended to and you have lost money on the client. To offer good service and provide fulfilling work for your team, you have to be selective and price your services properly. People will find someone else to do the work you choose to pass on. They will be just fine; you don’t have to be a martyr.
It’s ok to charge people for the value you provide. Advisory services can save business owners thousands, and sometimes hundreds of thousands of dollars. You as an accountant have experience and insight that the average business owner just does not have. Accountants should price their services with packaged fees that reflect that value. Ask yourself, “What’s the business case for that client?” This added income in your practice allows you to spend the money to make important hires, market your firm to grow intentionally and purchase new software and systems that improve the quality of your firm.
We have a feeling Susan will be one of our repeat guests on the podcast. She has a lot of insight for building up your firm with purpose. If you enjoyed this episode let us know, we always appreciate hearing what you think.
Please take a listen to the podcast on the player below or watch it here.
02:45 How Susan finds new team members
04:34 How Susan got into accounting
08:40 Advice for starting a firm (pricing)
11:57 What mindsets need to go in the industry
16:20 How Susan creates a great work environment
20:20 Fining value for the client
22:00 Training and onboarding of staff
26:30 What inspires clients at MB
32:00 Marketing importance
35:00 Book recommendation: Extreme Ownership
36:37 Guidance for listeners
37:20 How you can connect with Susan Bryant on LinkedIn or MB Group in Plano TX