A lot goes into making an accounting firm successful: hiring the right people, selling your services effectively, and communicating well with clients and prospects. But at the end of the day, the core of an accounting business is numbers. You have to handle your clients’ numbers properly to deliver the services they expect, but that’s only part of the puzzle.
The other most crucial set of numbers is your internal metrics. Everything from monthly revenue to marketing figures to employee productivity can be linked to one or more numbers that tell a story about how things are going in your company.
But with so many different numbers flying around, it can be a challenge to track your firm’s essential metrics on a day-to-day basis – let alone analyze and understand them as an indicator of the health of the business.
Dashboards are a perfect tool for firm owners and managers in this kind of situation. With a dashboard – a set of numbers or metrics presented together for easy access – it’s much easier to track numbers relating to a specific goal or area of the business.
Below are the four best ways to apply dashboards in your business.
1. Marketing metrics to watch for accounting firms
Marketing is a critical element of the business for accounting firms looking to grow. Metrics take the guesswork out of your marketing efforts: if a campaign doesn’t move the needle with concrete performance metrics, it needs to be scrapped or improved.
Some of the most common marketing metrics include:
- Page views
- Email list signups
- Sales inquiries
- Blog subscriptions
- Email clickthrough rate (CTR)
The specifics will vary depending on what you do with your marketing and where you find success. Some accountants may find social media is their bread-and-butter, while others might prefer email marketing.
2. Firm employee billing and profitability
Hiring the right people for your accounting firm can differentiate between success and failure. A dashboard can help you track your team's progress and profitability by measuring the number of hours they work on specific projects. This gives you a clear picture of your team's performance and where improvements can be made.
Once you’ve gotten an at-a-glance overview of how your employees are doing, you can drill down into more specific reports to view metrics by employee types or client projects. With a dashboard, you can easily track numbers like total hours billed, utilization rates, or how many billable hours are spent on client projects. This data allows you to see exactly how much profit the company makes from each employee on each project.
For example, if all of your employees tend to suffer from a drop in productivity when assigned to a specific account, it could be a sign that you need to revisit workflows with that particular client.
3. Keeping the pulse on engagement metrics
These numbers quantify the most important characteristics of your work with clients. Project metrics can help you answer important questions about the project, such as;
- How long does each phase of a project take?
- How many times did you communicate with clients?
- How much time passed between communications?
- What is your team's capacity for new projects?
Close analysis of your project metrics can provide a big clue about the kind of work your team does efficiently.
For example, consider a dashboard that compares project metrics for your annual tax clients to your corporate accounting clients. You may find that tax work is completed much more quickly, while accounting projects require more hours billed and a corresponding reduction in profits.
Once you're aware of the problem, you can address it in several ways:
- Raise your accounting rates
- Coach your team on how to work more efficiently
- Focus your sales and marketing efforts on bringing in new tax clients
Speaking of bringing on new clients…
4. How KPIs can help boost your sales
Sales is another hand-in-glove fit for a metrics dashboard. How often have you heard the old saying, “Sales is a numbers game?” In some ways, it’s true. You need to know how many clients you need to meet your firm’s monthly, quarterly and annual revenue goals. In turn, you should know how many appointments you’ll need to set to bring in that business.
Common sales metrics you can track with a dashboard include:
- Calls or emails logged to a prospect
- Close rate (the number of clients signed divided by the number of meetings)
- Velocity (how fast deals move through your pipeline)
Sales metrics directly impact your business's health and show whether it's growing, stagnating, or shrinking each month and quarter. As the owner or operator of an accounting firm, you must know your numbers if you want to set the company's mid-and long-term direction.
Last word on analytics dashboards for accounting firms
Efficient organization and management of numbers are core tenets of success for any accounting practice. But that doesn’t mean you have to use unwieldy, outdated techniques that add arduous manual tasks to your everyday workflow.
In fact, with the right accounting practice management software, you can track these and other metrics in a single location. You'll eliminate wasted time trying to wrangle up all the different numbers that tell a story of the firm's performance. Plus, efficient management of numbers will put you on the path to long-term success, steady growth, and high customer satisfaction across the business.