Fight the fight, or fold under furlough affliction
The government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) portal has been live for three weeks now, with three emerging groups using the furlough scheme. For one of the groups, the scheme is a sorry state of affairs
Group one: Smart accountants
The first group using CJRS is comprised of smart accountants and bookkeepers offering a service to their clients. They recognise that being ‘of service’ is critical, not just through the pandemic lockdown, but all year round. They have the systems, technology and the processes to handle the extra volume of work and they can bring in resources quickly as supply and demand dictates.
Their main role is to do the work and get paid for it and their systems mean they can do this well: the client doesn’t have to worry, the accounting team is in full control and happy to complete the work for an appropriate reward.
If we are just talking about the coronavirus, then competition isn’t an issue, speed and the ability to act swiftly is the solution serving the client needs who, in return, will pay with little resistance because they don’t have time to shop around.
Group two: Business owners
Group two are the business owners. From small one-man bands to large corporations, if the scheme is available to them, they just need to be shown the way with a few pointers – and they are intelligent enough to do it themselves.
This group of clients must not be underestimated. All clients are bright and intelligent and perfectly capable of keeping their own books, producing accounts, VAT and PAYE ( the internet is making this a whole lot easier). They can deal with coronavirus applications if they are shown how to do it.
It all comes down to being a willing volunteer. The difference between the first group and the second group is a willingness to do the work themselves and, once again, they are more than happy to pay a premium price to be looked after throughout the year. They expect you to lead them and direct them, which makes for a better collaborative relationship.
When you show and lead your clients, they benefit far more and, in turn, so do you.
Group three: Overworked accountants
The third group using CJRS are individuals who work long into the night and do their hardest to process every email, inbound message and telephone call. But for them it is relentless.
They jump on the CJRS site at 6 am and stay there until the last job is done, looking up from the desk, bags under their eyes, feeling sick, stressed, overwhelmed and for some I’m sure, they have been reduced to tears.
And on top of all that, they aren't even sure they will get paid or don’t even know how to go about charging for this work.
It is relentless. But this has nothing to do with furloughing or anything connected to the virus.
This group of accountants and professionals have been following a path set by their predecessors. But along the journey, client behaviour and expectations have been changing – largely due to the increasing influence of the internet.
During lockdown, clients have realised how powerful the internet is with tools like video conferencing, collaboration tools and instantly sending and receiving files and across the magic wireless connection instantly.
However, unless you change the way you serve your clients, and stop being a servant, you are doomed to a life of misery, stress, heartache and a considerable workload, a large part of which you will not be paid for.
The solution is simple, but not necessarily easy. It will require work and effort and it starts with getting some help.
I suggest finding a mentor or a coach who knows how to run a stress-free practice who can help you. Someone who is in practice like you and who knows what you go through each and every day. See how they operate and copy them.
You might also be interested in
Helping Accountants Grow Their Business. (Click to find out how)
Kevin Whitehouse has run his accountancy firm Prime Entry since 1991 and is now also mentoring other accountants on how to run their practice with less stress, more profits and if they want, less time...