Magazine article The CPA Journal

Marketing in Times of Scarce Human Resources

Magazine article The CPA Journal

Marketing in Times of Scarce Human Resources

Article excerpt

Every business has cycles. One month it may be not enough staff to handle the workload, and the next month it will be something else. Should a company market based on current starring needs, or on future staffing needs? Either way, over time the cycles will reverse and the issues will change. The problem-or opportunity-is how to create balance between production (getting work done) and sales (bringing in new work).

Some companies grow the most in a bad economy because they seize the moment Other companies cut back on costs, reduce their marketing, and generally downsize until the economy picks up. Some companies, however, look for acquisitions, increase marketing, and grow during these difficult times. More opportunities exist in turbulent times. The challenge is how to balance growth opportunities with resources.

Strategies and Action Plans

To take advantage of when others are cutting back on marketing and when the market is expanding, one must settle on a few, targeted strategies and related action plans. These strategies and plans must start at the top and be managed on a regular basis. To be successful, leadership at all levels, from managing partners to department heads, will be required. If the commitment is not there, plans will fail.

Below are suggested strategies and action plans.

Make room for new clients. The first step is to purge an existing client base of substandard clients. Put a strong partner in charge of this program. Set a goal to eliminate a certain percentage of clients. One will find that fees will increase because clients are willing to pay more, and margins will increase when substandard clients are replaced with better, moreprofitable ones. In the process, the staff will respect the firm more. The problem with implementing this strategy is that weaker partners may protect those clients. Make it mandatory that each partner justify keeping clients. This program will be difficult, but it can pay huge dividends.

Get aggressive on recruiting. Typically, recruiting is handled by the human resources function or someone in the technical area of a practice. This process will generally fail when there is a shortage of staff in the marketplace.

The marketing department or the most creative, aggressive, sales-oriented partner or manager should be in charge of recruiting. Recruiting is a marketing effort, and it should be dealt with on that basis.

Set specific goals. Set goals on recruiting, and report on the results. Remember, if an organization wants to change behaviors, it must start by measuring the activities that influence those behaviors.

Bonus plan. Create a bonus plan for accomplishing recruiting goals. If the goal is to hold a certain number of qualified interviews, base the bonus on that metric. Keep die bonus short-range (e.g., quarterly) to better motivate the staff responsible. Publish the goals and actual results for all partners, and make them part of the firm culture.

E-mail recruiting newsletter. An e-mail recruiting newsletter can be used for campus recruiting as well as other staffing efforts.

The following ideas can help build the newsletter:

* Create goals for the number of e-mail addresses added to the newsletter distribution list each month.

* Involve every staff person in the program.

* Add ex-employees to the distribution list

* Review all prior resumes submitted and applicants interviewed, and add appropriate applicants to the list. …

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