BY L. GARY BOOMER
Five strategies for organic growth
Growth is important to CPAs and their firms because it provides additional capabilities, opportunities, revenue
and profit. Growth can be organic or from
mergers and acquisitions. Many firms are
doing both, but growth requires planning,
people and processes. Growth doesn’t just
happen because the partners in your firm
decide they need to grow by 10 percent annually in order to maintain partner income. The
focus of this article is on five strategies that
will help your firm grow organically. They all
require thinking, planning and execution,
and accountability. The past two years have
been challenging for all firms. The ability to
grow will be even more important in the future than it has been in the past.
Over the past 15 years, I, along with others
at Boomer Consulting, have had the good fortune to participate in Dan Sullivan’s Strategic Coach Program for entrepreneurs (www.
strategiccoach.com). We have learned about
many strategies that apply to our consulting
business as well as to the CPA profession.
One of the most important lessons is that
every industry goes through what is known
as an industry life cycle, where an emerging
industry grows into a growth industry to a
status industry and finally a depleted industry, at which point an industry bypass takes
place and the cycle repeats itself. The cycle
can take many years, but the trend is toward
faster life cycles. Industry transformers are
those leaders who can take their firms from
the depleted to the emerging stage.
Financial services and accounting have
both been impacted by technological, scien-
tific, economic, social, cultural and political
change. How firms deal with this change is
the key to growth and success. Some of the
more prominent characteristics of a depleted
Commoditization — fee pressures;
Increased complexity of the business
Unique processes and branding become
of the past
transform themselves into the new emerging
and growth industries. This requires vision,
leadership, discipline, risk management,
and a set of core values that foster innovation, growth, trusted relationships, integrity,
teamwork and accountability. This is by no
means an easy task, as the gravity of the past
is typically stronger than the potential of the
future for many CPAs and their firms. This
requires that firm management continue to
manage the current firm while leadership is
developing the future firm. These are not sequential, but rather simultaneous events that
require time and capital.
While there are numerous strategies that
firms can implement, the following five transformational strategies have proven to provide
value to firms and their clients.
1. Listen to your clients.
2. Identify, name and package your unique
3. Move to fixed-price agreements and
4. Leverage technology.
5. Move up the value chain — information,
knowledge and wisdom.
I will further define and summarize each
strategy, with specific examples and action
steps you can implement in your firm.
retain a profitable client makes good business sense. This also demonstrates that you
value the relationship and will often produce
referrals. D.O.S. conversations allow you to
develop and package new services that meet
the needs of your clients.
Every firm has multiple processes, but few
firms take the time to identify, name and
package their best processes. By doing so,
they foster best practices, reduce redundan-cies and document the processes so less expensive labor and technology can perform
This is all part of Six Sigma and attempting
to drive out errors at the lowest cost. The real
value comes in the naming and packaging.
If you name the process, you own it. Clients
and prospective clients are impressed when
CPAs name their processes and graphically
display them. Written text or speech is not
nearly as powerful as a graphic and a name
in the sales process. The naming process can
be a bit tricky and time-consuming until you
have mastered the technique. Marketing professionals have generally had training in this
area, while CPAs have not. A few quick tips I
learned from Strategic Coach:
1. Use “The” to demonstrate exclusivity.
“The” is much more powerful than “A”.
2. Use a name to identify the process, e.g.,
3. Use a technological word such as “ad-
As an example, one of our programs is
named “The CIO Advantage.” This is a pro-
gram for CIOs to share best practices and de-
velop the skills for innovation and increasing
revenues. You can then use a graphic to assist
in defining the process. The BKN is the Boom-
er Knowledge Network, our social media and
community Web site. ThinkPlanGrow.net is
our blog. Naming and packaging allow you to
connect the dots of your processes in a way
that is understandable to clients.
Gary Boomer, CPA, is the president of
Boomer Consulting, in Manhattan, Kan.
LISTEN TO YOUR CLIENTS
Dan Sullivan calls this the “D.O.S. conversation” (for dangers, opportunities and
strengths) where the accountant simply asks
questions of the client and listens. Clients will
readily provide you with answers concerning their greatest dangers, opportunities and
strengths. Your job is to help them focus on
reducing or eliminating their three greatest
dangers, focus on opportunities and leverage
their strengths. Often this is a just a matter of
increasing their confidence to act. You and
your firm can often provide the necessary
resources and tools.
This type of session is focused on building the client relationship and not on charge
time, a common mistake made in many
firms. This is a huge differentiator and will
also assist in the process of moving up the
value chain. Investing a few hours to gain or
FIXED PRICES AND CHANGE ORDERS