Interview Series with Successful CPA Firms – Part 2 with Vic Alexander of KraftCPAs PLLC

Vic Alexander
The second interview in our Run Your CPA Firm Like A Business series was with Vic Alexander of Kraft CPAs PLLC. Kraft CPAs has been around since 1958 and is one of the largest independent certified public accounting firms in middle Tennessee.

Their firm includes over 150 employees and runs so smoothly and efficiently that a third party client survey revealed that they’re in the 99th percentile of CPA firms in the category of “overall client satisfaction” and in the 100th percentile in the categories of “responsiveness” and “overall communication”. Who wouldn’t want advice from this firm?

Firm: Kraft CPAs PLLC
Website: http://www.kraftcpas.com/
Highlights of his website: The long list of specialty niches they’ve developed, as well as the awards and testimonials on the front page, lending credibility to the firm right away.

What are your top three time-management tips?

  1. Return calls and email in blocks of time. If you struggle to do this effectively, set aside specific blocks of uninterrupted time throughout the day.
  2. Write your schedule out the night before so you come into work organized and ready to go.
  3. Rid yourself of time robbers. This includes any activity that takes up time but adds little or no value to your firm or life. You have to manage these types of activities so they don’t take up too much of your time.

What’s something you wish you had known when you started your CPA practice?
Public accounting is more of a people business then I originally realized. There’s a lot of customer service and client communication required to keep your firm running smoothly. The background I had in retail and team sports really helped me resolve this earlier than some others. If you’ve had any similar experience, use it to your advantage.

Do you have any suggestions for hiring the best CPAs to work at your firm?
Specifically, you should be offering a superior work environment for employees. This way you have the best CPAs coming to you and you can easily retain the ones you already have. We do this by implementing systems and processes for everything around the office.
Our superior work environment also includes a culture centered around respect and one where employees know we care about their development. Our firm does this by investing in our employees with lots of training including, soft skills development such as sales, interpersonal training, and management training.

How would you advise people to work ‘on their practice’ better, rather than working ‘in their practice’?
My best advice is to carefully develop systems and processes and then properly document them. Processes should become fluid so your staff always knows how things should run and your clients always know what exactly they’re getting.

Is there any changes you have made around the office since you started to make it run more efficiently?
Since I started with firm in 1982, technology has helped a lot by increasing the productivity per person. The biggest technology changes that have helped us has been the use of cloud computing and switching to a paperless office.
Also the development of specialty niches has improved our efficiency. Once we reached a critical mass of clients interested in a particular niche we started developing it further and training dedicated staff members to that niche.

What are your best time-tracking secrets?
We recommend that everyone inputs their time directly into our time tracking system instead of writing on a timesheet, especially if you’re involved in litigation when detailed billing is required. It’ll allow everyone to do their time tracking quicker and they’ll remember more details.

Are there any great software products you use around the office that you’d recommend?
I would recommend Go File Room for workflow management and Microsoft’s CRM package.

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