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A marketing moment by Troy A. Waugh

What if, when you were age 21, one of the partners of your firm, whom yourespected, invited you for a cup of coffee. Then after some initial chit-chat the partner said to you, "I'd like to help you succeed in this business." What if that partner went on to say something like this: "We have several young staffers in our firm, but I'd like to work with you, coach you. We hired you because you are talented and I think you are outstanding. I want to help you succeed here or wherever your career takes you." And what if, over time, that partner followed through. He met with, watched over, guided, and helped you make better choices and avoid mistakes.

One of the crises many accounting firms are facing today is a scarcity of loyal, talented, and experienced people. Many of the best people gravitate to accounting firms that recognize, pay for, and appreciate them. Too many firms use a sink-or-swim approach with their young talent and often the firm is the loser in the end.

There is a better way to help cure this problem once and for all, if it exists in your firm. Develop a formal coaching or mentoring program. A marketing coaching program can promote a can-do attitude throughout your staff. It can have a dramatic ripple effect throughout your firm. You can help your young talent focus their energy in a successful direction. You can help your staffers build a business network. And, should your protégé leave your employ, you will have a friend for life

Coaching for success can help you and your employees develop dramatically better skills. For the most part, I think you should only coach one or two people at a time. Take them on prospect calls, to the Rotary, and home with you for a meal. Talk to your young staffer about what it really takes to succeed in public accounting. Pour out your wisdom and help staffers build relationships and grow.

A basic rule for coaching is to be friendly, frank, fair, and firm. With that formula, you can grow an excellent crop of future partners and build your firm for the long-term. Coaching need only take an hour or so a week. but it should be consistent.

Want to learn more on how to coach? One of my favorite writers, Linda Richardson, has a new book titled, Sales Coaching. The book, published by McGraw Hill, can be found in your local bookstore. *
Troy A. Waugh, CPA, is the founder of Waugh & Co., P.0. Box 1208, Brentwood TN 37026

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