How to help your clients grow their staff
When a business owner decides to expand their staff, they might first wonder if they can afford it. In that way, their accountant may be their primary resource for determining if they’re ready. After all, you are their all-around financial rock star and trusted business advisor.
Much like you may have helped a client prepare for their first employee, you can help them prepare for more. Here are some ways to identify when a client is ready to expand and help them prepare for growth.
4 Signs of Growth Readiness
Money is the obvious first sign that a business is ready to grow. Your client may be seeing an increase in customer traffic or revenue but struggling to keep up with demand. Hiring is an easy solution, as long as they can handle the additional responsibilities and costs that come with it. But, there are other signs to look for to help your client determine if they’re ready to grow.
#1: It’s in the business plan. Every small business owner who wants to succeed should have a detailed business plan that forecasts where they want to go in five, 10, or even 20 years. Many of those milestones will require leaps of faith, and growing the business is certainly a risky (but also rewarding) chance to take. If your client is reaching a milestone year and has the support they need to succeed, it might be time to take that leap and expand their staff.
#2: Customers are seeking out the business. Frequent customers are important for your client, but having out-of-town or online customers asking your client how to get more of their goods or services? That’s a definite sign the business may need to grow. You may want to recommend that your client evaluate if they have a strong customer base in other areas (such as neighboring towns or online). With some market research, they might find some opportunities for growth in those areas. Naturally, this also means they’ll need to bring on new people to keep up with demand.
#3: Administrative tasks are falling to the wayside. If your client reaches out to you with a message similar to, “Sorry I took so long to get these numbers back to you. I just haven’t had the time!” then it might be time for them to grow. Time management is a constant battle for many managers and business owners, but there is an easy solution: delegation. Managers can delegate nonessential tasks to others, freeing up more time for them to focus on things like coordinating with suppliers and interviewing potential new hires. They can either delegate to existing employees or hire new employees to fill those roles.
#4: Everyone is feeling overworked. Occasional overtime is understandable. However, near-constant overtime might be a sign that the business needs to bring on new people. If you run payroll for your client, you can see just how much money they’re losing to overtime payments. You might even use this information to show your client when they need to bring on new staff. And if the increased overtime is due to the season (such as retail sales during the holiday seasons), your client can still turn to seasonal employees to alleviate the rising demand.
Helping Your Clients Prepare
Once your client has been made aware of their growth opportunity, they may rely on you to help them see it come to fruition. With your financial know-how and business acumen, you’re certainly the perfect person to help them prepare. Here are some tips to help you both succeed:
- Help them determine affordable wages. Chances are this will be at the top of your client’s mind when they start to consider growth. However, you can help them determine more than just what they can afford. You can also help them determine reasonable and competitive salaries. Your estimate should factor industry standards, hourly costs of employees, benefits, insurance premiums, and potential overtime costs.
- Help them understand labor laws. You may not be a labor law expert, but you do have above-average business expertise. Remind your client about the importance of keeping proper records, especially when it comes to tracking hours worked and overtime for salaried and hourly workers. Plus, with these records, your client can have more accurate job and overtime estimates. You may also want to remind your client about the potential cost of labor law violations. Employers spent $2.8 billion on wage and hour lawsuits between 1984 and 2017. Over 70 percent of those came from Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) violations.
- Connect your client to other business professionals. Chances are you’re not the only person your client turns to for business advice. However, you may have connections that your client could benefit from. If your client is looking to grow their business, help them network with other experts in the field of human resources, employment law, business operations, and more. For many small business owners, having access to experts is an invaluable resource.
Watching your clients grow can be rewarding and exciting—you may even feel like a proud parent! Regardless, there are certainly plenty of challenges they will have to face as they expand. Luckily, they will have you in their corner to help them prepare and plan.