By James C. Metzler, CPAVice President, Small Firm Interests, AICPA
As I write this, we are taking the first steps out of a worldwide recession that has shaken all sectors of the economy, from the largest banks to the smallest businesses. The clients that CPAs serve are experiencing shrinking demand for their goods and services, disappearing credit lines, large layoffs, and severely restricted cash flow. As a result, business owners and families are scrutinizing every expense. They are reevaluating their relationships with their CPA firms and the fees they pay them.
Sound familiar? As someone who practiced in a local firm for 32 years, I have experienced more business down cycles than I care to remember. I can’t help but reflect on my years in public practice and the challenges we are facing today. What has enabled so many firms to survive and even thrive in tough times? What is it about a firm that makes its clients stick with it even when the competition offers a dramatically lower fee quote? And, once you identify this special quality, how do you use it to your firm’s advantage?
I spent my entire public practice career in “beautiful Buffalo,” as Leo Pusateri refers to our mutual hometown. When I met Leo there and learned about his Value Ladder™ and related concepts, I saw immediately that they could help my fellow CPAs answer these questions and offer them a workable strategy for better understanding themselves and their clients.
When people choose a CPA firm, they ...