Bringing change to an organization is no piece of cake- especially when not everyone is onboard with the idea- what is even more critical is ensuring that the those driving the change maintain the correct mindset during the process.
Alan: Welcome back, I'm here today with Gary Boomer, Gary is the founder of Boomer Consulting, one of the top consulting firms in the United States for the accounting profession as well as Gary's been listed for a number of years is one of the top 100 influential accountants in the United States. so Gary welcome to today's show.
Gary: Well thank you Alan it's a pleasure to be here
Alan: So Gary, for the audience can you give background, history, what brought you up to where you are today?
Gary: Sure I'd be happy to, and a little bit of this goes back to where I was born, the fact that I was raised on a farm I think a lot of those values and principles and the work ethic that I have today really go back to my parents and the fact that I was born in a rural area. I'm from Kansas, I have 4 brothers and one sister and I like to say I work probably harder from the age 15 to 20 than I have the rest of my life. But I am also a twin, and I have a twin brother that's a veterinarian. And so when we went to school people ask well how do you get an interested in accounting and I said, well he was at one end of the alphabet with veterinarian so I said I'm gonna be at the other end so I picked accounting as a major and then I said that's a great platform to use my entrepreneurial skills. So, today we have a company that primarily works with the largest 500 firms in the US and some in Europe and Canada. And we focus on. Making them are helping them continue their success in sustaining that as well as being future ready so it's kind of a balance between firm management and technology.
Alan: You know in today's world we're in a river of technology flow and you always need to be in the forefront in looking where the future's going with the profession and where do you see that today?
Gary: Well it it's changing much more rapidly than it has in the past, plus the accounting profession is getting disrupted just like any other small business with the automation and it's automation of all types of things that account used to get paid for. For example, entry of transactions, not just preparation of tax returns and compliance but taking that data they have access and using that to predict what's gonna happen in the future using data mining and regression analysis, things like that. In order for us to remain relevant. We really have to provide different services that we have in the past.
Alan: I guess the flip side of it is accounting profession, although the world is changing quickly they tend to be the late adopters.
Gary: Yes and even with technology and I didn't have a lot of training and technology, my education was really and economics and accounting I have a Master's degree in Accounting but I also have a minor in economics and I actually learned more in the economics side. And just as I was graduating, technology was getting big in the accounting profession so I said I have to know something about this, so I took a class in fortran programming. And I tell people that knowing fortran is like knowing Spanish but being sent to Munich- absolutely worthless- but it did teach me about. How technology works, how data flows, logic analysis and I think that's been a real advantage for me and my career.
Alan: When I look when a person's thinking about a career in accounting today. Are what advice would you give them and how to best prepare.
Gary: I think it's a great platform because to be innovative. You have to have some hindsight. And we get a lot of that an accounting of the data and transaction that's already occurred, the second thing is insight- what's that really mean from a performance. And then from the foresight, of how's that gonna impact you 3-5 years from today and your clients. And so I think accounting is a great platform for that but don't limit yourself just to what's happened in the past.
Alan: You know I guess looking at the past is not a good predictor of the future. We see the change in technology that it is so rapidly happening you have and a lot of automation and there seems to be a shift from what used to be a manual process is now moving and being replaced with technology. You wrote a book about the 3 P's of people process and procedures?
Gary: Yeah it's actually, People Planning and Processes and I think those are the formula for the success of any small business today. Technology is the accelerator and the goal is to grow your business so how do you plan and how do you employ the right talent. And how do you make your processes. As efficient as possible.
Alan: Gary I need to take a quick break but when we get back I like to go into these 3 P's, the process, the planning and the procedures and we'll be right back after these messages.
Alan: Welcome back I'm visiting here today with Gary Boomer he's been listed among one the top accounting consultants in the profession as well is the founder Boomer Consulting, Gary in the first segment we left off with talking about the 3 P's of business with the process the planning and the people and I'd like to spend a little bit of time in that area in the approach of how that all impacts is scaling of companies and businesses and getting everyone on the same page.
Gary: Absolutely and this applies not only to accounting firms, it applies to their clients because if you think about it, accounting firms are small businesses. Most are under $50 million in revenue. Of course we have some that are in the billions- the big 4 and then the
top 100 firms breaks in about $35-$36million so it's a very large industry that is comprised of a lot of small businesses. And when I got into consulting I was really coming in from the management the technology side but I said there has to be something more here and what is it and what are those skills and everyone says you know it's a people business or a talent you have to have talent development so HR is very important and not just the attraction retention- the development of those people. And then second if you don't have a plan. And know where you're going. It's tough to get people to chase that vision and they really have to buy into the vision in the small business. So that's a leadership issue and then finally if your processes aren't efficient it's going to be difficult to compete. So the people times the planning times the process is generally the formula for success in most small businesses.
Alan: You know on American Dreams we'll often work with the young entrepreneurs throughout sitting to try and solve- and most the time the successful ones it wasn't about the money, but it was solving a problem or solving the issue, and part of that, in when they're trying to solve the problem or the issue and scale a company it's getting everybody on the same page. When you're working with companies and emphasize in these 3 P's, how do you get everyone aligned under the firm vision?
Gary: Well that's one of the real challenges of a small business and why they often bring in the person from the outside because it's more obvious when you're outside the business looking at it. After you've interviewed and talk to the key players what they're really trying to accomplish and if they can't communicate that effectively to their employees and to their customers. And do it fairly succinctly and concisely. Then they probably are going to be successful. We determine success generally by profitability but that's a result and that's why they buy scoreboards in athletics and that's really the scoreboard we go by in the business world.
Alan: So is there at a starting point that you advise companies when they're trying to get everyone aligned with the vision that you know some type of approach or process to get the mindset outlined of who's on the team?
Gary: Well initially we said the strategic planning process and when most people hear that they think about. Hours and hours of work and documents that people will put in a drawer and probably never referred to again. And I've had some experience working with some of the larger athletic departments in the country and there you have coaches and and people in administration. That don't want to spend a lot of time in the planning process but they're used to have doing game plans. So we based our plans on a one page game plan much like athletic teams do and therefore you get people on the same page with us same objectives. And get it down on paper if you don't ink it after you think it, it generally doesn't happen.
Alan: When you're looking at driving the vision oftentimes people are gonna come with different levels of commitment. How does accountability play into execution?
Gary: Well if you define your vision and the results are different for the vision you're trying to go after then accountability is the quickest way to get to that new vision. And there's a great book out there, change the culture change the game and it's about how everyone has experiences in their life. And most of those experiences drive your belief system. And once your belief system is there then that determines your actions and your actions determine results. So you can't just start at the top of the food chain and say you're going to change your. Actions and have that stick for a long time.
Alan: Gary I'm running short against the break here but when we get back I like to jump into the lean six sigma model which you're often using with companies today. I've been visiting here today with Gary Boomer, he's the founder of Boomer Consulting, we'll be right back after these messages.
Alan: Welcome back, I've been visiting here today with Gary Boomer, he's the founder of Boomer Consulting and Gary before the break we were talking about the 3 P's, the planning, the process and the people and now the game changer is getting companies into more of a lean six sigma model and for the audience here, what is lean six sigma. Well lean six sigma is really two things, lean is how you drive efficiency out of your processes and six sigma is how you attain quality and reduce and the errors in your processes and you try to drive those errors out at the lowest cost. Not in accounting one of the things that we have are reviews at the high level and surely a partner review, well if we can drive those errors out in the process so that by the time the work gets to the partner it reduces their time and we're much more efficient. And we shorten the cycle time and by cycle time we're talking about how long it takes to complete an operation. So if you're doing a tax return for a client if you can get that in and out the door in a short period of time the client's gonna be happier and you're going to be more efficient and more profitable so that's really the principle behind it. I first learned about it when I went to India looking that outsourcing, I knew about it manufacturing from my a background in accounting. But I had never seen it really applied in the accounting industry so over the past 10-15 years it's become very popular.
Alan: Change management's never easy within the organization. What's the quickest way. To get people to change?
Gary: Well I don't know that there's any quick way, But normally you have to inspire them with the vision and I think one of the best ways to do that is think 10 times. So it's about your thinking as much as anything so if I think I'm a company of $10 million what would I do if I were a company of $100 million. And the answers come much easier when you think about 10 times than they do about 10 percent. And you can even say well I know we're not gonna be 10 times but the answers are still the same even if you're only growing 10 percent so it's that thought process. and it's tricking the mind into thinking bigger that really helps small businesses get to what their objectives are.
Alan: So there's the mindset- the natural instinct. Some people say, ‘I'm okay changing, I'm a futurist. And others are like, ‘no way.’ How do you reconcile those two people that resist the change and the people that want to go?
Gary: Well people are motivated differently as you know and so I say if you're gonna remain successful or become successful in future ready then you have to probably look at your mindset your skill set and your tool sets. And oftentimes people want to focus on the tools, the technology out there but they don't want to change the processes. Or even more common is- 'I know we need to change but Alan you're the one that's gonna have to change I'm gonna stay the same' and that just doesn't work we have to be open to change and the companies that do the best with this seem to be based on the leader who says it's okay to change. And we'll make some mistakes but we have confidence in our people our plan and our processes, that if we make a mistake, we're gonna fix it and we're gonna get to the next level.
Alan: Is there a is there a crossover point with the size of organization which that the processes will then replace the entrepreneur and drive a company to a larger level?
Gary: Well I think the entrepreneur is still the one responsible for setting the vision and communicating that vision, but the reason the processes are so important is you can't scale the business. Without the process. An individual. If they're not willing to collaborate and be a member of a team. It's gonna be difficult for them to scale their business. The rugged individualist will only get you to a certain level. So size wise, is it $10 million, 15-25 because the vision can be cast.
Alan: I once had a guest on here, a partner of Bain and Company, he says I like to work with companies from $5-$15 billion on strategy because if I get bigger than $15 billion it's kinda hard to get the organization to change. I'm not talking at that level, but at some point of time there has to be where the processes are so imperative in order for you to continue to scale that if they're not in place, the company is not going to go anywhere.
Gary: Well I think that's absolutely true you have to define your target clients-where your solutions had the greatest impact so that you'll both be successful and we've done that make an industry you know there's 45,000 CPA firms the US our target markets the top 500 firms. When you look at it knows perspective that's a pretty small market. But, we use the rule of 5 which are firms over $5 million, firms that are in the top 500, those are all good prospect of clients. Because they have enough organization and resources and they're willing to hire someone from the outside and come in and help them with that analysis. The other thing that we learned is that peer communities are very important today and we like that because as consultant you can be on the road all time so how do we get the peers to share their information and you really have to do that on a national-not a local basis. So we have peer communities that are focused on anything from technology to. Managing partners of the firm, HR directors. CIO's and they meet together in groups of. 20-25 people. And we can bring an access to expertise that they wouldn't have as individuals. So I think that's a very important part of what we do not only the consulting but the communities. And then the learning- I believe in lifelong learning I always like to say that who you'll be in 5 years is determined by the books you read the people you meet. I didn't think that at a younger age but now I know that's true.
Alan: So Gary, if individuals would like to contact you, what's the best way?
Gary: Well one the best ways to learn more about us is to go to boomer.com I was fortunate to have a pretty good last name it's easy to remember. And the other thing is my [email] is LGboomer@boomer.com so don't hesitate to go to our website or send me an email and I'll certainly respond to you.
Alan: I've been visiting here today with Gary Boomer, he's the founder of Boomer Consulting, Gary thanks for being on today's show.
Gary: My pleasure
Alan: Well be right back after these messages.