Art of Accounting: Staff who moonlight during tax season
I have always liked tax season. When I was an employee I moonlighted and developed a base of clients who enabled me to eventually quit my job and start my own practice. How could I not like tax season?
When I had my own practice and then became partners with others I felt it was important for staff to be able to moonlight if they wanted to, but that they could not if I made them work more than two nights a week. I also felt the moonlighting made them better. For openers, they would make mistakes on their own time and had to figure out how to do a better job. They also would get confidence dealing with clients, develop marketing skills and be more diligent keeping up to date on tax law changes, become procedure oriented, organize their time better, make sure they completed what was assigned to them so they did not get “stuck” working longer hours and be late to a private appointment.
The downside was I could not count on them for unlimited time, but their better quality, production and client follow-through more than offset that. I also told staff that if they wanted to moonlight, they could use our software (but without our firm name) and office for meetings, but it could not interfere with their responsibilities with us.
I never worried they would leave me to start their own practice. Actually, those that moonlighted worked for me, on average, longer than those thinking they could do better by job hopping—which they NEVER did. I was successful in this regard in that I always had low turnover.
Running a business involves tradeoffs. You can pick them, or have them picked for you. I liked it my way.
Edward Mendlowitz, CPA, is partner at WithumSmith+Brown, PC, CPAs. He is on the Accounting Today Top 100 Influential People List. He is the author of 24 books, including “How to Review Tax Returns,” co-written with Andrew D. Mendlowitz, and “Managing Your Tax Season, Third Edition.” Ed also writes a twice-a-week blog addressing issues that clients have at www.partners-network.com. Art of Accounting is a continuing series where Ed shares autobiographical experiences with tips that he hopes can be adopted by his colleagues. Ed welcomes practice management questions and can be reached at (732) 964-9329 or firstname.lastname@example.org.