I talk about cash-flow strategies to real estate agents on a daily basis. By the very nature of the commission framework, cash flow is one of the most challenging areas for agency owners. Whilst it’s vital to implement the right cash-flow management tools, software and cost control strategies – it would be a sin to let the knowledge, skills and experience of your accountant go to waste.
It’s fair to say that most small business owners don’t regard accounting as a tool of empowerment. In reality, a trip to the accountant might be seen as an obligation and ultimately, an expense. But what if instead you used your time with them to put in place financial strategies and create your agency’s roadmap to success?
It could be a very different picture. Your accountant is a financial expert. They hold the key to creating ongoing financial harmony for your business. Assuming you’re in business to generate a certain level of profit – why not enlist the help of your accountant to make this happen? Here are some ways you can start to unlock more potential from your relationship:
Make sure you have the right accountant to start with
As with any supplier, it’s good practice to annually review the quality of service you receive. A competent accountant is a big asset to your agency - hopefully you’ve already found one that works well for you. If you think you can do better, go and talk to several accountants. Get a feel for how interested they are about your agency and assess if they have the practical and technical skills to help improve your agency’s position. Don’t just look for qualifications. Look at their ability to provide you with holistic business advice and not just the number crunching.
Let them know you want to be proactive not reactive
Your accountant isn’t a mind reader. You need to communicate with them that you no longer want to spend time fixing up financial blunders and proofing your agency against compliance issues. Let them know you want to dedicate more time to strategic thinking and focus on the future of your agency. It will take some proactivity and preparation on your part to be ready for financial year end and put in place accounting measures that will allow you the room to do this. But it’s possible – you just need to set your agenda and stick to it.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions
Questioning everything can stop you from falling into lazy habits or taking action because ‘that’s the way we’ve always done it’. Before visiting your accountant, make a list of questions and make sure you maximise on your time and their value by getting meaningful answers. A good relationship should also allow for intermittent questions via email or phone, as and when the need arises. If you’re finding some resistance to this kind of support, perhaps it’s time to shop around.
Meet your accountant in the middle
Keeping your accountant on side will ultimately impact the service you receive. Don’t be a problem client. Pay their invoices on time, meet the agreed deadlines, prepare your accounts ahead of time and repay their good work with loyalty where it’s due. When it comes to financial year end, consider how busy your accountant will be and be the client who comes prepared and has listened to the advice they’ve been given.
Make time for strategic talk
Schedule in time to sit with your accountant and conduct a full review of your agency’s financial position, investment strategy, superannuation schemes and overall strategic direction. Tap into their business and financial expertise and watch how this manifests better cash flow.