Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Relationship Building at 35 MPG

Last week I was speaking to the owner of a large automobile dealership in the tri-state area who lords over a vehicular empire that moves roughly 25,000 cars a year and generates some $800 million in sales. Let me repeat that - $800 million.

At 66 years old and with a 45-year pedigree in the business that his grandfather started nearly a century ago, I asked him point blank how he stays motivated and maintains his edge over the competition – including the influx of start-ups and existing entities that allow customers to purchase cars online.

He broke it down in the most basic terms.

“In the end it’s all about relationships. People don’t have to come into a dealership anymore although we want them to keep coming. Take Amazon. They’re talking about getting into online car sales, but they haven’t said how they plan to service those vehicles. We build a trust with our customers and that’s why we have many of them for life. Online companies like Amazon and others can’t do that.”

Prior to the advent of cloud software and other remote-enabling technologies, the relationships between clients and their CPAs were not that different from that of a faithful customer and their local car dealer – or insurance salesman for that matter. When a client had a problem, he/she would pick up the phone and call their accountant and more often be granted a personal audience with them.

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

“Engaged” to a Best Firm

Some years ago, I got the chance to interview Arnold Schwarzenegger prior to his breakthrough in movies and later, politics. He was at the time a 7-time winner of the Mr. Olympia contest – the most prestigious bodybuilding competition in the world. After the rounds of traditional questions that accompany any profile, he revealed something that to this day I still remember.

He confided to me that when he is in a strange city he can walk into any gym and tell within 30 seconds whether he’d enjoy working out there. It was just a visceral feeling he got but could not fully explain, nevertheless he knew that it was likely a combination of things – atmosphere, equipment, clientele etc.

I can sort of relate.

Throughout my working life, I could usually tell very early in a job whether it would be a long or short-term tenure as I’m sure many of you have. Fortunately, over the last three decades, it has been more the former than the latter.

I mention only because I noticed my former publication has just released the 2018 winners of Best Firms to Work For. The competition spans three categories – small, mid-sized and large firms but all are judged on the same criteria – submitted anonymously by their own employees.

So, what makes a CPA firm or any workplace for that matter a clear favorite over another to work for?