Fix These Common Customer Service Mistakes

Fix These Common Customer Service Mistakes

If your company provides stellar service and outstanding products, your loyal customers can grow exponentially through social media, online reviews and more traditional outlets. On the other hand, when customers complain, your company’s reputation can be damaged.

Fortunately, your team can build solid customer relationships by fixing these common customer service mistakes:

  • Mistake #1: Ignoring customers. When busy, it’s easy to develop checkout lines or call- ing queues. This frustrates all customers, both those with concerns and those that simply want to order. The net result is everyone is unhappy! Fix: For call volume, consider creating a simple auto-response recording to quickly get customers to the right area. For online ordering, make it easy for online customers to get to someone that can solve their problem. For retail, show all customers that you care. Never give the impression that they’ve intruded upon your valuable time. Make eye contact. Smile. Invite their feedback. And constantly monitor employees looking for opportunities to develop improved communication.
  • Mistake #2: Minimizing legitimate complaints. Sure, there are a lot of complaints out there that may not be resolvable, or even based on fact. But sometimes customers have mistaken notions about your products or services. Fix: Resist the temptation to ignore feedback. With every complaint, ask whether concerns might highlight an opportunity to improve. When complaints seem to arise from several sources and focus on a particular issue, pay attention. If a product doesn’t work as advertised, consider discussing the issue with suppliers.

  • Mistake #3: Defensiveness. Customers need to feel that the company is trying to address their concerns. Even if your employees feel personally attacked, they should never lash out. Fix: Train workers to remain calm. It is best to listen, repeat the complaint back to the customer, and then ask confirmation that you understand their issue. Next, ask a clarifying question. This will help deescalate any tension. Most people respond better when the situation is handled calmly and respectfully.

 

businessman holding a cell phone making customer service mistakes on a call

 

As always, we hope you find our tips and news for businesses valuable, and look forward to receiving your feedback. Companies focused on growth have sought the help of Insero & Co. for more than 40 years. During that time they have consistently experienced the peace of mind that comes from knowing their CPA firm takes the concept of integrity seriously. Should you have any questions, please contact us directly.

Audit & Accounting Update: November 2019

At Insero, we make it our business to stay abreast of the latest trends and technical updates in accounting, tax, and audit and we understand how important timely updates are to our clients. As a member of the RSM US Alliance, we also have the benefit of access to the resources and subject matter experts of RSM US LLP (formerly known as McGladrey LLP). This includes regular updates on the latest financial reporting insights. We hope that you find these informative and useful, and invite you to reach out to us if you have any questions.

Accounting

2019 Effective date reminder
Our Effective Date Reminder lists pronouncements issued as of Nov. 1, 2019, which became effective on or after Jan. 1, 2019 for most entities or have not yet become effective for all entities as of November 1, 2019.

Updated white paper: Changes to revenue recognition for franchisors
This updated version of our white paper,  Changes to revenue recognition for franchisors, will further assist franchisors in applying the new revenue recognition model in Topic 606, “Revenue from Contracts with Customers,” of the Financial Accounting Standards Board’s Accounting Standards Codification (ASC).

Recognizing costs in construction and production-type contracts
As nonpublic entities continue to work through their implementation of the new revenue recognition and related cost guidance (FASB ASC Topic 606 and Subtopic 340-40), the impact of the new guidance on costs for construction-type and production-type contracts is becoming an area of focus. The revenue recognition guidance in legacy GAAP for these contracts (ASC 605-35) also provided guidance on how entities within its scope should account for contract costs, which is different from the guidance in ASC Subtopic 340-40, Other Assets and Deferred Costs – Contracts with Customers.

Updated white paper: Changes to revenue recognition for franchisors

Source: RSM US LLP
Used with permission as a member of the RSM US Alliance
http://rsmus.com/our-insights/newsletters/financial-reporting-insights.html

As always, we hope you enjoy this edition of our newsletter and we look forward to receiving your feedback. Should you have any questions regarding the information contained in the attached materials or our service offerings, please contact us directly.

5 Tips to Better Manage Your Cash Flow

5 Tips to Better Manage Your Cash Flow

It seems straightforward: Your business or nonprofit needs to know what you owe others and what they owe you. That’s your cash flow, and managing that cash flow accurately and consistently is one of the basic elements of accounting.

 

Look more closely at cash flow management, and you’ll find that it’s not so simple. As with every accounting process, there are good and bad ways to go about it. There are processes that work well and others that will cause you trouble—if not today then down the line. There are also advanced elements that can help separate your organization from the competition.

 

Let’s look at five tips for managing your cash flow not only to get by but to be more efficient and productive.

 

Step 1: Establish firm collections practices

When do your clients or customers pay you? If your answer is “it depends” or “it’s a long story,” you probably need to strengthen your accounts payable practices. Make sure your policies are clear, and make sure someone is keeping an eye on receivables—you might want to assign a single person to the task. That person should contact customers if they are late with payments, and persist as necessary to collect all your receivables as quickly as possible.

 

Step 2: Pay on time, but not early

It’s good business to pay your bills on time, every time, but that doesn’t mean you should pay a large bill the day you receive it. Check the payment terms—net 30, net 90? Then establish a process to ensure the bill is paid toward the end of the available term. This is assuming, of course, that you have cash on hand to pay the bill—if you don’t, that’s a more serious cash flow problem than the ones we’re addressing.

 

Step 3: Invest in the right software

Especially as your organization grows, it’s wise to invest in advanced accounting solutions such as Sage Intacct, the best-in-class cloud ERP platform. Sage Intacct’s cash flow management software provides a complete picture of your cash position on a secure, customizable dashboard accessible from anywhere. You can view all payments and all transactions across bank accounts and credit cards, and across every location and entity—and it’s ready for you in real time.

 

Step 4: Forecast your future

Look for accounting software that offers predictive forecasting capabilities, which provide access to accurate, automated cash flow forecasting across your entire organization, at the click of a button. The best solutions can generate models of your projected revenues and expenses related to sales, capital investments, and other information. The result is a crystal ball of sorts—a comprehensive picture of what lies ahead so you can better manage your cash flow.

 

Improve cash flow management

Better cash flow management processes can help you grow your organization with confidence. Insero & Co. helps organizations evaluate best-in-class software solutions to streamline cash flow management and other accounting practices.

 

Manage Cash Flow with printed reports from finance system

Tax Update: November 2019

TRENDING IN TAX

IRS proposes regulations for the switch from LIBOR
Guidance would facilitate transitions of existing debt and derivatives to alternative benchmark rates without creating taxable exchanges.
Replacing a key benchmark interest rate, the London Inter-Bank Offered Rate (LIBOR) is a stated goal of financial regulators. LIBOR rates are quoted for many different currencies, including U.S. dollars, and are referenced in lending and derivative transactions throughout the world. Trillions of dollars of transactions are based, in whole or in part, on U.S. dollar LIBOR.

EU’s VAT action plan ‘Quick Fixes’
More than $750bn VAT revenue has been lost across the EU over a 5-year period from VAT fraud and more significantly to noncompliance.
U.S. businesses with operations and transactions across the European Union (EU) are required to comply with EU VAT rules and regulations.  U.S. businesses that, directly or through subsidiary operations, are involved in the movement of goods across EU borders will be impacted by these upcoming changes. Failure to comply can lead to penalty exposure and further scrutiny by the tax authority.

 

IRS proposes regulations for the switch from LIBOR

 

Source: RSM US LLP
Used with permission as a member of the RSM US Alliance
https://rsmus.com/what-we-do/services/tax/additional-tax-resources/tax-ideas-insights.html

Disclaimer

At Insero, we make it our business to stay abreast of the latest trends and technical updates in accounting, tax, and audit; and we understand how important timely updates are to our clients. As a member of the RSM US Alliance, we also have the benefit of access to the resources and subject matter experts of RSM US LLP (formerly known as McGladrey LLP). This includes regular updates on the latest federal, state, and international tax news as well as updates pertaining to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. We hope that you find these informative and useful, and invite you to reach out to us if you have any questions.

Monitor Inventory to Keep Cash Flowing

Monitor Inventory to Keep Cash Flowing

Skillful inventory management is often one of the biggest factors in maintaining positive cash flow. Consider these techniques for controlling your company’s inventory to improve your cash position:

 

  • Track inventory turnover. The inventory turnover ratio measures the number of times inventory is sold and replaced in a given time period (annually, quarterly or monthly). It’s calculated by dividing cost of goods sold by average inventory. Let’s say you’re a retail business that has $5 million in cost of goods sold. At the beginning of the year, your inventory balance is $600,000; at year-end, it’s $400,000. That means your average inventory is $500,000 (the sum divided by two). To get the annual inventory turnover ratio, you divide the cost of goods sold by this average. So in this example, the turnover ratio would be 10 ($5 million divided by $500,000). On average, you’re selling and replacing inventory 10 times each year. Compare historical ratios and industry averages to get a clear picture on the state of your inventory management. Low or deteriorating turnover ratios may indicate that your business is carrying excess inventories. Research to find out why.

 

  • Scrutinize aging inventory. An aged stock or inventory aging report lists items grouped by the length of time they’re being held in inventory. Like an accounts receivable aging report, an inventory aging report enables you to quantify the cost of specific slow-moving inventory items. A way to calculate this is to take the number of units on hand and then determine how many months of sales it will take to sell out of the item. If certain items aren’t selling, they may be obsolete or beyond their shelf life. You may need to write down values in the company records, provide discounted sales, or write off specific items by removing them from inventory.

 

  • Consider just-in-time (JIT) inventory management. JIT is designed to increase efficiency, reduce costs and minimize waste. Companies order goods only as needed. Depending on your business, JIT might be used to lower inventory holding costs, reduce problems with order fulfilment, and improve cash flow. Given the risk of being out of stock, JIT can work for your business if your products can be manufactured or supplied quickly, and your company’s order fulfillment system is efficient.

 

By skillfully managing inventory, your firm can continue to generate positive cash flow, satisfy customer demand, and invest in new opportunities.

 

Charts and graphs of cash flow and inventory management

 

As always, we hope you find our tips and news for businesses valuable, and look forward to receiving your feedback. Companies focused on growth have sought the help of Insero & Co. for more than 40 years. During that time they have consistently experienced the peace of mind that comes from knowing their CPA firm takes the concept of integrity seriously. Should you have any questions, please contact us directly.

The Latest Tech Trends—And Why You Need to Know About Them

The Latest Tech Trends—And Why You Need to Know About Them 

Accounting and financial management are changing fast with the introduction of a dizzying array of new technologies and tools, from online solutions to new mobile accounting applications.

 

Determining which tools and trends are worth adopting, and when, is a challenge that businesses and nonprofits need to consider with care.

 

Which emerging technologies are worth your time?

It is remarkable how many new technologies and trends have emerged in just the past 10 years, and you can expect the pace of innovation to increase from here thanks to machine learning, artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things, blockchain, and other digital technologies.

 

One increasingly popular trend is to move from on-premises accounting software to cloud-based accounting software solutions like Sage Intacct. By moving to the cloud, you can improve visibility, streamline reporting processes, and make it easier for your clients and colleagues to collaborate and exchange information. In addition, cloud-based accounting can help you:

  • Analyze more data in real time
  • Scale as needed, with potentially unlimited storage space
  • Access information securely anytime and anywhere, from any device
  • Automatically back up files in the cloud

 

Another advantage of Sage Intacct is that it makes it easy to integrate third-party tools that offer benefits to your business or nonprofit. For instance, a growing number of applications are available to streamline expense reporting, automate accounts payable, and speed other common tasks.

 

You’ll also want to evaluate targeted technologies such as optical character recognition (OCR), which can scan printed and handwritten documents and convert them into machine-readable text. That means you can take handwritten documents, or even photos of documents, and turn them into electronic documents that are easy to store and share.

 

Why stay on top of the latest trends?

There are dozens more emerging technologies and tools that are worth considering because of their potential to deliver significant business benefits, including:

  • Better customer and client experiences. Many technologies will help you deliver better customer service, which can provide a significant competitive advantage.
  • Streamlined operations. The less time you and your team spend on mundane tasks, the more time you can devote to important responsibilities that build business value.
  • Cost savings. The latest tools can save time, reduce training costs, improve productivity, and offer additional cost-saving benefits that lead to a stronger bottom line.

 

Get the help you need

It can be a daunting task to learn about and evaluate the value of every new technology that hits the market. For help, some organizations turn to an outsourced accounting partner to sort through all the options and identify which ones fit their needs.

 

Insero & Co. is a public accounting firm with decades of experience working with both nonprofits and businesses. From audit assistance to business consulting, our experts are available to help you identify the latest solutions to make your organization more efficient and productive.

 

The Latest Tech Trends—And Why You Need to Know About Them

The Right Accounting Tools for Grant Reporting

The Accounting Tools You Need for Grant Tracking and Reporting 

Winning grants is great news for nonprofit organizations. But managing those grants can be a time-consuming challenge for the accounting team, which needs to track, bill, and report on every one of them.

 

To streamline that process, it is important to have the right accounting tools in place, which often means moving from Excel-driven charts to more advanced cloud-based accounting software solutions such as Sage Intacct, which provide powerful report visualizations, as well as real-time reports that make it easy to drill down to the details that matter.

 

Save time and deepen insights

With a more feature-rich accounting software platform like Sage Intacct, you can easily centralize all your grant documents from corporations, foundations, government agencies, and more.

 

Simply import data from your membership and donor software, regardless of source or award type, and you can report and compare your grant budget to actuals on grants with reporting periods that differ with your fiscal year. It’s simple to search and report on grant delivery, impact metrics, and financial data, which can save you hours of time.

 

The customizable dashboards in Sage Intacct allow you to monitor all your grants in real time and collaborate easily within the system to ensure that budgets line up with performance and delivery. The dashboards clearly display non-financial metrics that are used regularly when creating grant reports or fundraising campaigns, including the number of clients served and how that figure compares to the prior year.

 

If your organization is involved in a grant to increase membership, you could easily see on the dashboard where membership stands today. Then you could drill down further to compare and contrast different membership groups.

 

More broadly, advanced software platforms give you more visibility and control across operations. By centralizing task tracking for grants and other projects, you can see at a glance what needs to be done and when. As your grant is used, you can monitor spending and track the budget plan in real time. And deadlines are a lot easier to meet when you can collaborate online with team members to ensure milestones are met.

 

Streamline your grant reporting process

Insero & Co. is a public accounting firm with decades of experience helping nonprofits achieve their missions and streamline their business processes. Whether you need business consulting or audit or other services, our experts are available to help.

 

Tracking and Reporting

Cross-training: Essential for Small Business Survival

Cross-training: Essential for Small Business Survival

Have you considered cross-training your employees to ensure more than one person knows all key functions? Cross-training can be a win-win situation for you and your employees. Large companies often use it to prepare managers for future promotions. But in small companies, it can be the difference between success and failure.

Why companies cross-train

Cross-training provides greater flexibility in scheduling, especially when dealing with unexpected workload and staffing issues. It also helps employees develop expertise in other areas and increases their awareness of the company’s roles and functions — helping them better understand where they fit into the big picture.

For employees, some of the biggest advantages include:

  • Learning new skills
  • Working more efficiently and effectively with other departments
  • Feeling more invested in the company
  • Enjoying growth opportunities

Create your cross-training plan

How you implement cross-training will depend on the size and nature of your business. Consider prioritizing the departments that need and/or want cross-training the most. These departments may be understaffed or have many new employees. Look for important functions that are currently dependent on a single person’s knowledge. These areas should be a focus of your cross-training program.

If you’re considering cross-training your team, here are a few tips to help you prepare:

  • Document your key processes. You cannot cross-train if you don’t know the process. These written processes will turn into training documents as you implement your program.
  • Communicate to your team. It’s essential to get everyone involved before you start a cross-training program. Help your team understand why the company is cross-training employees. Reasons may be to prepare for organizational growth or new industry standards, or to adjust to a changing structure around roles and responsibilities. Then continue to communicate with your team throughout the program with status updates and team meetings about progress and next steps.
  • Present cross-training as an opportunity. Your employees may be more resistant to cross-training if it feels like it’s an obligation or a threat to their roles. You can help them feel motivated by highlighting the benefits, like honing different skill sets and having a better understanding of how their contributions positively impact the business.
  • Start with a small pilot program. Test the waters with a select group of employees to get a better understanding of what works and what needs to be tweaked. You can then expand the program later as you gain insight and experience.
  • Determine cross-training hours. Figure out how much time can be dedicated to cross-training for each team to still run efficiently. This may include carving out a few hours each day, or setting aside full days for a certain period of time to focus on cross-training. If your business is seasonal, ramp up cross-training during your low seasonal period.
  • Listen to feedback. You may learn that some employees have already started practicing cross-training on their own. You can use this kind of valuable feedback to fine tune the program.

Keep in mind that some employees may resist having to train others, and productivity may suffer in the short term. But remember the cost of not cross-training. If you lose a key employee and no one else knows how to do their tasks, your business may be in trouble.

 

Cross-training: Essential for Small Business Survival

 

As always, we hope you find our tips and news for businesses valuable, and look forward to receiving your feedback. Companies focused on growth have sought the help of Insero & Co. for more than 40 years. During that time they have consistently experienced the peace of mind that comes from knowing their CPA firm takes the concept of integrity seriously. Should you have any questions, please contact us directly.

The Cost of Having the Wrong People on Your Financial Team

What’s the True Cost of the Wrong Fit?

Hiring a full-time employee to join your financial team is like entering a marriage—it is, you hope, a long-term commitment that will benefit both parties. When that relationship unexpectedly falls apart, the cost to businesses and nonprofits is higher than you might think, not only in hard costs but also in lost morale and other soft costs.

 

The hard costs

Every new employee is an investment and a costly one at that. Before the hire, hours are spent reviewing resumes, conducting interviews, and performing background checks. After the hire, days or weeks are devoted to training the new employee, and if the employee doesn’t work out, you have to go through the costly search and training process all over again.

 

In addition, if a hire isn’t meeting expectations, that means your organization is suffering from poor productivity, as well as suffering opportunity costs related to what the employee should be doing well but isn’t. On top of that, there’s the added cost of intervention—meeting with the employee, developing plans for corrective action, and redirecting other employees from their responsibilities to cover for the poor performer’s faults.

 

Soft costs

Those hard costs are only the beginning. If your new hire is disengaged or burned out, if they have bad work habits or bad morale, it’s likely, if not inevitable, that their attitude will spread to the rest of your financial team.

 

If you’re lucky, you’ll notice the issue right away and take steps to correct their behavior or remove them from your organization before they damage your culture. Often, though, months go by in which managers struggle to pinpoint the issue and then devote precious time and resources to figuring out which actions to take. Throughout that process, negative attitude could be spreading.

 

What are your options?

All of this is not to suggest that you should never hire a new employee. Rather, recognizing the extremely high cost of the wrong fit will hopefully inspire you to devote more time and energy to establishing excellent hiring practices that reduce the likelihood of making a hiring mistake. You might also consider outsourcing some financial responsibilities as an alternative to hiring full-time employees.

 

Make the right decision for your organization

Insero & Co. is a public accounting firm with decades of experience working with both nonprofits and businesses. Whether you need recruiting assistance or business consulting, our experts are available to help.

 

Cost of Having Wrong People on Your Financial Team

The Dos and Don’ts of IRS Audits

The Dos and Don’ts of IRS Audits

Every year the Internal Revenue Service audits a number of U.S. businesses. Knowing how to prepare for and handle an audit can minimize stress and even provide opportunities to improve company operations. In some cases, audits may even lead to smaller tax bills.

 

Tips for an IRS business audit

Regardless of the type of IRS audit you and your business is involved in (correspondence, office or field audit), the best way to deal with an audit is to know what to do and not to do. Consider the following:

 

  • Be professional

    •  Do: Auditors have a job to do, and it’s in your best interest to show them respect. If you’re called to their office, show up on time, dress appropriately and have requested documents in hand. If auditors visit your place of business, encourage staff to answer questions honestly and completely. Within reason, it’s acceptable to ask for more time to locate a particular record. If you can’t find supporting documentation, say so.
    •  Don’t: Avoid arguing with the auditor. Ask for clarification if needed, but don’t question every document request. If you disagree with the auditor state your case and understand you have appeal rights should the disagreement become costly.

 

  • Be organized

    •  Do: If you keep business records on a computer, know how to create and print easy-to-follow reports. Prepare for the audit by laying out checks, invoices and other records in a logical fashion.
    •  Don’t: Dump a box of receipts into an auditor’s lap. The easier it is for an auditor to find what they need, the shorter the time period required to complete the audit. Remember, the longer an auditor spends with your records, the more likely he or she will find something amiss.Also keep in mind that it’s rarely a good idea to create records during an audit. Exceptions may be if you’re honestly trying to reconstruct transactions from memory or your records don’t exist (for example, after a natural disaster or fire). IRS agents are often suspicious of hastily prepared documents that smell of wet ink.

 

  • Be honest

    •  Do: Make a straightforward effort to justify deductions. If you can’t locate a specific record, look for alternative ways to support your tax return. For example, if you’re claiming a deduction for depreciation but can’t locate the paperwork, redo the calculation for the auditor. A vendor, landlord or mortgage company may have copies of pertinent records if yours have gone missing.
    •  Don’t: Never create numbers that can’t be corroborated or reasonably explained.

 

  • Ask for help

    •  Do: Get an expert in your corner if you’re facing an audit.
    •  Don’t: Ignore your need for help. Remember, auditors conduct audits all the time. This is a rare event for you. Too many businesses provide more information than is needed, opening themselves for a higher tax bill. Make sure this is not you!

 

For U.S. businesses, tax audits are a fact of life. By knowing what to expect, you can be prepared if the IRS comes knocking. contact us for assistance.

As always, should you have any questions or concerns regarding your tax situation please feel free to contact us.

 

The Dos and Don'ts of IRS Audits

 

As always, we hope you find our tips and news for businesses valuable, and look forward to receiving your feedback. Companies focused on growth have sought the help of Insero & Co. for more than 40 years. During that time they have consistently experienced the peace of mind that comes from knowing their CPA firm takes the concept of integrity seriously. Should you have any questions, please contact us directly.