Mary Bennett

A team approach to firm flexibility

How it's key to business success.

April 19, 2012
by Mary L. Bennett, CPA

Robyn Mick and Leslie Jennings Major, her business partner at Silver Bridge CPAs, set out to build something different from other CPA firms when they created a new firm together.

Both Mick and Major envisioned a firm that was built on a culture of flexibility from the start. As Silver Bridge began looking for individuals to hire, they searched for those who wanted a nontraditional, flexible approach to their career, while focusing primarily on excellent customer service.

One of the primary strategies used to achieve flexibility while simultaneously building a reputation for excellent customer service was a team approach to servicing clients. The service model was based on multiple team members understanding the client relationship and being in a position to meet client needs, thereby increasing responsiveness. Technology and communication played important roles in supporting this team philosophy by keeping teams effective, small, and fully informed about client relationships and deliverables.

During off-season, Silver Bridge’s work schedule is flexible, with many different options. For example, the office is closed on Fridays in the off-season and several team members work remotely even during the busy season. Mick finds that telecommuting increases responsiveness, while allowing team members to manage personal commitments more effectively. The firm also engages in process re-engineering, improving profitability continuously.

Mick strongly believes in behavior that can be modeled around the right workload personally and using the team approach. She works the necessary hours whenever it works personally and organizationally. She even attends her children’s school and sports activities during busy season and works around this schedule to ensure her clients are serviced effectively. She speaks to her clients about her business’ team approach, ensuring that her clients understand how the company’s motto benefits them.

The firm set out to build fewer silos than a traditional firm, to increase consistency of service, and fully utilize the paperless system for the benefit of the clients and the team members.

Stay tuned for future articles in this “Flexibility at the Partner Level” series. For more information on work/life balance, upcoming webinars, and other events, please visit the AICPA’s Women in the Profession website.

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Mary L. Bennett, CPA, is the founder of MLBennett Consulting and chairs the AICPA Women's Initiative Executive Committee. She has over 25 years of experience in the accounting and consulting industry of which 17 has been with Crowe Horwath LLP, where she served as a partner.