Rob Ristagno interviewed Tom Barry, Managing Partner of GHJ Advisors, on his podcast where they discuss how to scale your business without working overtime.
All professional services firms face the same challenges when trying to scale. The product they sell isn’t an item—it’s their team’s time and expertise. When you have a specific number of employees, each with a finite number of hours in the day, how do you grow your business without demanding more time and energy from employees?
Tom Barry, Managing Partner of GHJ Advisors, who’s been with the accounting firm for nearly 25 years, faces this question regularly. GHJ has built a thriving practice, serving privately-owned businesses and nonprofit organizations within their hometown of Los Angeles and across the country. Like other businesses, they’re always looking to grow.
But they never want that growth to come at the expense of their greatest asset: their team. That’s why Tom and his fellow leaders have honed in on four areas of focus to enable sustainable scaling.
The first is a focus on work/life balance. The firm’s #BeMore motto is about finding growth in ways beyond just doing more work. They want to create a space where team members can be more and nurture all areas of their life: family, self, and firm.
From providing weekly meditation sessions in the office to enabling hybrid work arrangements and flexible, capped hours, the team is constantly looking for new ways to help employees flourish.
Tom also cites investments in tech and AI as important ways to expand capacity. When individuals can automate tedious manual processes and tasks, it frees them up to do more high-value client work. Leadership loves testing new ways to create efficiencies with tech, from using new communication platforms to implementing Salesforce to manage client relationships.
The third lever Tom uses to scale efficiently is outsourcing. We live in an outsourced world, and there are many benefits to finding external partners to help handle workflow. Not only does it create additional capacity for your team, but it also allows you to effectively work around the clock.
Tom says one of GHJ’s outsourcing partners is located in India. The GHJ team in LA makes the most of that time zone difference. They hand tasks off to the folks in India at the end of their workday, and when they wake up and log on the next day, the tasks have been completed overnight.
Finally, Tom talks about the importance of providing value in how you structure your services. When it comes to professional services, it’s not about the hourly rate, it’s about the value derived from that time. He provides the example of a high-profile law firm. Yes, you may pay one of the partners $1,000 an hour, but if they save your company $5 million in the end, isn’t that a bargain?”
Key points include:
- Providing value
- Tiered offerings
Listen to the podcast, Scale Your Professional Services Firm Without Working Overtime, on SterlingWoods.com.
Stephen Redwood shares an article that explores managing resources during disruptive times.
As companies go through phases of growth and decline, innovation and stasis, integration and diversification, resource needs fluctuate in terms of numbers, types and capabilities. Even for eminent companies such as du Pont, General Motors and Sears Roebuck, these cyclical phases have more often than not resulted in – as the professor of business history, Alfred Chandler, once wrote – “Resources accumulated, resources rationalized, resources expanded, and then once again, resources rationalized.”1
It is an unfortunate reality that the “resources rationalized” part, more often than not, relates to reducing headcount. How best to achieve that is a common source of questions from clients, often hoping for some magical thinking that will enable a rapid and relatively painless outcome. The reality, however, rarely matches those aspirations but not because of a lack of possibility, more because of a lack of method.
Determining the types and sizes of particular resource groups required in the short term versus those likely to be needed in the longer term is a challenging task when faced with the need to undertake a rightsizing transformation. This speaks to the importance of finding the right balance between strategic potential (“doing the right things”) and tactical details (“doing things right”).
A lack of access to adequate data or an understanding of the reasoning behind why things operate as they do only add to the challenge. This is often compounded by variance in job roles and responsibilities across organizations.
Ultimately, though, there is a finite set of ways to look for savings opportunities, but unless changes are made to the flow and volume of work in the business, none of the savings will stick.
Once identified, savings should be prioritized so that a properly managed transformation program can be established to ensure objectives are achieved without upsetting key growth or innovation initiatives.
Key points include:
- Assessing the landscape
- Restructuring at the top
- Bending the cost curve
Read the full article, Separating the Forest from the Trees, on RedwoodAdvisoryPartners.com.