Practice Management Support
We offer many ways in which to support the healthy running of your practice; with the overall aim of developing your practice and improving your profitability.
Practice assessment (partner’s questionnaire)
The start of most practice management work is the completion of practice assessment. Through a confidential diagnostic questionnaire, each partner is asked to:
- Identify personal and corporate goals
- List aspects of the firm that they like and dislike
- Identify areas that they feel need dealing with
- Score the practice on a range of issues
The thought processes that you are forced to go through when completing this questionnaire are extremely beneficial in themselves; however, when combined with the results of the other partners they give a truly remarkable insight to the practice.
Practice management reviews / partner retreats
We offer practice management reviews or partnership retreats ranging from a half-day session, all the way through to 2 to 3 days away looking at your business.
The areas covered can include:
Practice organisation – a general efficiency review does not include looking at files. Instead, the process involves facilitating a brainstorming session with partners and managers to identify those issues that prevent greater efficiency. Potential solutions will also be discussed and evaluated and an implementation strategy designed.
Improving productivity and recoverability – productivity is the amount of chargeable time partners, and staff, add to the time recording system (or the level of fee-earning work undertaken). Most firms complain that partner and staff productivity is too low and yet they are all too busy. We can help you focus on those issues that prevent solutions. Invariably more chargeable/fee-earning work results in increased fees (or more leisure time!).
Reducing debtors and work in progress – We can look at the amount of money tied up in debtors and WIP and work with the partners to devise practical solutions to reducing it and keeping it at that low level. If your combined lockup is consistently more than 4 months’ turnover at selling price, then we could help you put more money in your bank account!
Practice development - an IT efficiency review looks at the way IT is used in the firm’s routine work. The review can be tailored to the firm’s needs, for example concentrating on the firm’s use of IT to improve audit efficiency, or the use and design of spreadsheets in cash flows and projections. It can cover the Microsoft Office systems and/or look at the use of accounts preparation, taxation or practice management services.
Planning for retirement – it is surprising how few partners actively plan for retirement. SWAT UK’s Retirement Strategy service works with the partners to identify when each partner wishes to retire, whether he or she thinks they will be able to by their target date and if not, what options are open to them. It can consider issues such as pensions, goodwill, sale of the practice and so on.
The normal approach is to analyse the partners’ responses to the partner questionnaires (see above) to find out their own views and concerns about the business. The questionnaires invariably identify critical areas such as productivity issues, the need to reduce debtors/WIP or the development of marketing plans or new services. The results from the survey will be used to build an agenda to review the issues within the firm. Individual partner comments are kept confidential and are only disclosed to the group with that individual’s permission.
We can also tailor the normal approach by starting with a benchmarking exercise, or we can just work from a firm’s own agenda.
The half-day sessions are often done in the office or at a local hotel. A detailed report will be sent following the visit, containing an action plan that identifies responsibilities and timetables, to really help to maximise your practice.
A half-day often feels too rushed for a considered opinion, so an alternative option is to undertake a 24-hour partners’ retreat (normally lunch time to lunch time and taking place at a local hotel). Partners often find that the extra time generates added benefit to the exercise. Issues raised during the first day are discussed over dinner, and often late into the night, so that the second day can focus on the key issues with much more clarity.
The retreat will also review/create the business plan for the firm and we will often benchmark the performance of the firm against our own practice survey information. The benefit to the firm, is that our consultants at SWAT UK have a lot of experience with working alongside different firms. We can often give the benefit of that experience to you when considering your own specific circumstances.
The exercise will generate a report with the results of our benchmarking and a summary of areas covered as well as action points arising.
For many firms we also carry out a follow-up, to see what progress/problems the firm has made or encountered in taking the business strategy forward following on from the retreat or the practice management review.
For the avoidance of doubt, your investment with SWAT UK does not include the hotel costs and meals and drinks! It is a lot of fun to create some space in your busy lives to review your progress and to plan for the way ahead. If you haven't done it, then try it. The benefits are enormous.
Staff surveys can provide you with effective, accurate information about issues that exist within your practice. The confidentially of the survey means we will normally get a more honest assessment than one carried out internally.
The surveys are confidential and we can tailor the survey to the firm’s specific needs. They can cover staff’s knowledge of the firm’s services, confidence in cross-selling, cultural issues and anything else you wish to cover.
The results will be reviewed and analysed and a detailed report will be sent to the partners identifying issues that have arisen.
Practice / staff reviews
Your staff are your most valuable asset, so it makes sense to invest in them, by providing them with the necessary training and support. Our practice and staff reviews can help assess your staff’s abilities, plan a training programme to help develop their skills further and ensure their obtain their required CPD.
We can visit each office on a regular basis to interview all members of your 'professional' staff (as opposed to ‘administration’ staff). During such a visit we can discuss their work experience, how they are progressing with any studying, and which courses they could consider attending next. Should you wish, we can advise you on various aspects of the management of your practice, to help you to run your practice more efficiently, help cut down on unnecessary time and costs, and therefore improve your profitability.
Following each visit, we report to you with our recommendations on the practice and how to make the best use of each member of staff.
Should you wish, we’re also able to undertake a full staff audit. This involves interviewing all staff (both technical and administrative), and discussing an appraisal form that they have completed for this exercise. The aim is to identify each individual's strength and weaknesses, and how they feel they can help your firm to develop.
SWAT UK’s staff reviews can either be a short course planning visit, or a more detailed visit in which all technical staff are interviewed.
A courses planning visit would consist of arranging a meeting with the training partner and discussing the level of work each member of staff is involved with and any qualifications they are studying for. Based on this discussion, a training plan of courses for the year would be agreed and booked. Following the review, the training partner is sent a copy of the firm’s training plan.
On a more detailed visit, the reviewer will chat informally with each member of staff who will be attending any of SWAT UK’s courses. The work experience currently being given, progress with studies (if applicable) and SWAT UK courses attended during the year will be discussed with each member of staff. This discussion will form the basis on which a training plan will be created for the individual, outlining relevant courses for the forthcoming year. This gives qualified members of staff the opportunity to plan their CPD ahead, ensuring maximum benefit is gained by attending relevant courses only. In addition, the review should be seen as an opportunity for members of staff to discuss any personal problems that could be affecting their performance in the office, or any other matters of concern relating to the practice itself, such as the management of the practice. A full detailed report will be sent to the training partner after the review, outlining any issues brought to light.
- Does your practice need a marketing boost, but you haven’t got the time to do it?
If the answer is yes, SWAT UK's marketing services can help you with everything from planning your marketing strategy to writing copy for your website.
You may be looking to launch a new service, open a new office, or simply review your current marketing activities. Whatever your needs, we can help you to focus on the right areas and help to make your marketing as effective as possible.
We can discuss your existing activities and put together a report of recommendations as to how you can achieve your marketing and business objectives.
Our marketing consultancy will evaluate your current marketing activities and discuss potential activities that could also be undertaken, to help you increase your business and profitability. During the day, the following points would normally be covered, but these can be tailored to your own requirements:
- Identifying the purpose of any marketing activity , i.e. to increase overall awareness of the practice, client retention, developing client business, developing new income streams etc.
- Confirming current marketing activities , costs and response rates achieved.
- Discussing other marketing activities that the practice could implement, in order to achieve its objectives.
- Identifying who would take ‘ownership’ of all marketing activity and what time is available within the practice to devote to marketing.
Following on from the meeting, a recommendations report and marketing action plan will be produced.
Typical marketing activities that we can assist you with include:
- Compiling a marketing strategy;
- Undertaking a thorough marketing audit of the whole firm;
- Writing copy for marketing literature and websites;
- Reviewing existing marketing materials;
- Designing and printing corporate literature;
- Drawing up a marketing action plan for the practice;
- Devising marketing campaigns to meet specific business objectives;
- Organising events;
- Conducting client surveys;
- Sales training courses;
- Plus anything marketing related that will help you to increase awareness of your practice and improve sales.
Following the consultancy day, you’ll be provided with a FREE written report detailing our findings as well as any action points and/or recommendations arising from the day.
Practice mergers and acquisitions service
SWAT UK's Practice Mergers and Acquisitions service is your route to growing your practice, or providing a suitable exit route. Our Practice Mergers and Acquisitions Service is a confidential service that aims to introduce prospective sellers to purchasers.
Click here to find out more and register or call 0845 450 5555.
Prices vary depending on the specific activity required. To discuss your requirements in more detail please call us on 0845 450 5555.