Academic journal article Journal of Accountancy

One CPA's Busy Season Solution

Academic journal article Journal of Accountancy

One CPA's Busy Season Solution

Article excerpt

Pooling resources with other practitioners helped solve seasonality problems for one CPA. Douglas L. Blensly, CPA, Delbert M. Goehner Accountancy Corporation, 136 South Oak Knoll Avenue, Suite 200, Pasadena, California, 91101, reports on how it works.

The public accounting profession is increasingly becoming a seasonal business. With changes in the tax laws that forced more companies to end their fiscal years on December 31, more and more of our work must be done during the busy individual tax preparation season. The small practitioner must look at staffing, office space and other overhead costs in two time frames: the busy season and the rest of the year.

BUSY SEASON PROBLEMS

One older sole practitioner I know found a partial solution to some of these problems. The lighter work load in the last half of the year forced him to reduce his full-time staff to 5 people year-round, but the heavier work load in the first half still required 8 to 10 people to complete. In addition, since he was landlord as well as tenant in his office building, his occupancy costs were difficult to reduce.

For several years, he augmented staff in busy season by hiring per diem help. There were drawbacks to this solution, however. Most of the more productive per diem employees needed income during the rest of the year as well. Many of the valued part-timers managed to fill in elsewhere so successfully during the other months that they were hired full-time by other practitioners and were unavailable when busy season rolled around.

AN EXCHANGE OFFER

The solution came in a suggestion from one of his part-time busy season staffers. She had developed a small practice that she ran out of her home, but because she traveled frequently she needed coverage during her absences. It was especially important that her older clients have a base to call where someone would be familiar with them, instead of reaching voice mail or an answering service. She proposed that in exchange for being available during the busy season--and reducing her hourly rate for this work by 20%--the practitioner would provide her with office space and secretarial and administrative help.

This arrangement worked so well that he has since crafted similar deals with four other people. Each one is different, but each has unique benefits for both sides. The office space that otherwise would be empty is now occupied at least part time and the practitioner is assured of at least some per diem help to get the tax returns out the door. …

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