How many times have you wished for a few extra hours in a day? Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending how you look at it), there are only 24 hours in a day. No more. No less. But sometimes, it just seems as if there isn’t enough time to get everything done.
A recent conversation with a partner at CPA firm recently got me thinking. You see, when we spoke, he had just got back to the office from a daylong visit with one of his clients. Yes, you heard that right – a daylong visit.
I was pleasantly surprised. It’s not every day you hear about an accountant spending that much time with a client. Perhaps, if the client was located in another state. But not when the company is less than 50 miles away! Turns out this visit was both personally and professionally rewarding.
The day started with breakfast. From there, the CPA took a guided tour of the town the client grew up in – driving up and down memory lane (almost literally). The two then enjoyed lunch and wrapped up the afternoon with a tour of the recently expanded facility. To top it all off, he left with a new tax project.
The partner commented to me, “I wish I could do more of that.” You see, this is the part of the business he enjoys most. And virtually every time he makes similar visits, he picks up new business. So why doesn’t he do this more frequently?
“I just can’t find the time,” he said.
What part of your job do you enjoy doing? Why don’t you do it more often? You may be able to extend your work day, but at what cost? And you’ll never be able to make a day 26 hours long. So you really need to focus on making the best of the time you do have. Work to increase your efficiency and ultimately your effectiveness.
If you actually sat down and tracked what you spend your time on each day, you would be surprised. Most people are. And that is especially troublesome when the two most important currencies in your business are time and money.
If you were able to step outside of your firm and look in, you would see what I see… partially prepped returns that are waiting on information from the client… work papers waiting to be reviewed… review notes… re-work… more review notes… more re-work… and finally a work product that will probably be reviewed one more time, just in case, prior to client delivery. That is a lot of steps.
All of the steps you take in your process equate to time. And time spent equals money. By visually mapping out each step you take, it will be obvious why you feel like there’s never enough time.
Perhaps the way you’ve always done things isn’t the best way it can be done. Consequently, your current processes may be the reason why realization isn’t what it should be.
Will your clients pay for all the extra time that goes into your processes? That depends whether or not you charge them. What impact would it have on your firm to charge your clients the same amount (or more) and actually have less time in the job? It could be pretty substantial.
In the end, if you’re going to charge your clients more, you know what they would rather pay for anyway – that day you spend with them listening and talking about personal and business goals. Don’t let your processes stand in the way of your ability to do that.
Lean Six Sigma can’t put more hours in a day for you, but it can help you use the ones you do have better.