Brian Russell, CPA, and Laurel Russell, Office Manager, of The Russell Group in Pasadena, California get far more done with much less stress now that they use the technology they learned from Sterling.
“We finally realized we needed to get into the management part of our business,” says Brian.
“Then too,” adds Laurel, “our girls had just graduated from high school and we needed the practice to produce more so we could put them through college.”
Both Brian and Laurel acknowledged that the flow of work through the practice was not what it should be and it was costing them dearly in time, effort and money. Organization, they knew, would markedly increase efficiency and that was crucial. “Our organization had bottlenecks,” says Brian.
Much of Laurel’s work as an office manager has been to minimize those bottlenecks. She remembers their approach to Sterling:
“We went to Sterling’s introductory seminar and it sounded good, sounded like it would help. We knew that something had to give, something had to work. Sterling had a positive attitude and a management technology that was scientific; it’s just a matter of formula: you have problem ABC and you do this and that will follow.
“And it certainly has turned out just that way!” she says.
“Efficiency was critical, because in a CPA practice you have so many boxes and bags of materials coming in, and before Sterling there was no system; the flow in the office had no system. You really need to know what is there (defining or naming exactly what one is dealing with) and what needs to be done. We have that now and production has speeded and simplified.
“And it has cut down on the stress and confusion,” says Laurel. “You don’t know how much stress there is until you know what you’ve been doing and how to fix it.”
“On top of that,” adds Brian, “we didn’t really know who was responsible for what in the practice and in some cases the wrong people were doing the various jobs. We’ve gotten that straightened out and with charting and logging our work as it goes through, the lines are cleared up.”
The result: Within the first year, production had jumped 40%, with less stress!
Laurel says the Sterling system has been particularly beneficial since she works with her husband in the practice. “The improvement is even greater because of the husband and wife thing. I think anything is valuable which lessens the friction on the job, anything which cuts down that stress, which enables the staff to be in sync like a well-oiled machine. I think that is worth any price because you are less likely to take the garbage home from the office. Before Sterling, that was taking a bigger toll than anything.
“Sterling has helped with efficiency,” she says, “and has really clarified my job and helped me in knowing that I can leave at night and if something is somebody else’s job, I’ve turned it over to someone else who can do it. I can leave my job at the office.
“There’s also something we’re still working on,” says Laurel, “which Sterling is helping us with and that’s keeping a good attitude. With a CPA, there are little piles of stuff everywhere and sometimes it takes something special to deal with someone who isn’t a real neatness freak. The information on the emotional tone scale helps with that. I have definitely enjoyed having that knowledge available to me!”
Brian echoes his wife’s enthusiasm for Sterling’s help in organizing the office. “As CPAs,” he says, “we are generally pretty good technicians: we learn as we go, we perfect our skills. But too often we neglect the business part of our practice.
“And that’s no good,” he says, “All the knowledge in the world about how to do taxes and having a nice office will do you no good if nobody comes to the doors.”
*Laurel Russell, Office Manager and Brian Russell, CPA