5 Reasons to Conduct a Retreat in 2021

By Jean Marie Caragher

Many CPA firms conduct annual retreats to keep them on track. With the pandemic, more firms need to consider holding a retreat to help them prepare for their future. Taking into account what we’ve learned over the past year, here are five reasons to conduct a retreat in 2021.

1. Establish or reaffirm your firm’s vision, mission and core values. Your vision is the description of your future firm, which is communicated internally only. What will your firm look like two or three years from now, e.g., revenue, size, locations, niches, services, remote workforce, and use of technology?

Your mission is a brief statement of your firm’s basic purpose. Why do you do what you do? Hint: It’s not about the money.

Your core values are the essential and enduring beliefs of your firm, which should guide and inspire. What core values do you truly believe in? Clear and well-articulated core values will attract to your firm people whose personal values are compatible with your firm’s core values. In the age of COVID and other societal issues, it’s more important than ever for you to be clear about what your firm stands for.

2. Create or update your firm’s marketing plan. Developing your marketing plan requires you to ask: Where are we now? Where do we want to go? How do we get there? The pandemic showed us how quickly life and business can change, and our need to be nimble. Your marketing plan is the road map for your firm’s growth. It enables you to make revisions as circumstances change. Without a plan, your marketing activities are haphazard and ineffective.

3. Build your firm’s niche specialties. I have been a niche marketing fan for decades, and agree with what I hear and read about the importance of building niche specialties now. Niche marketing is market segmentation, or focusing on a particular industry or service. In which areas do you have a critical mass of staff and clients? Do you have partners who are famous in a particular area? What unique skills and expertise do your team members have? How have your clients in specific industries been affected by COVID and how can you help them?

4. Develop new services. The pandemic has also impacted the type of services your clients need you to provide, e.g., cash projections, debt restructuring, inventory management, data analytics, M&A consulting, valuations, technology consulting, and cyber security to name a few. Are you prepared to offer these services? What talent or company do you need to acquire or establish a joint venture with in order to deliver it? How can services be packaged and brought to market for your client base? What services will your clients need in the future?

5. Build your firm’s brand. As written in a prior CPA Practice Advisor article, your brand name conveys a set of expectations and associations and conjures up the personality of your firm. Simply put, it is who people think you are, from the way a person answers the phone, to the way you do business, to the look of the invoice. It is more important than ever to build your brand and deliver a consistent message to the marketplace.

Let 2021 be the year you help prepare your firm for the future by conducting a retreat. Whether in-person (following CDC guidelines, of course) or virtual, I’m confident it will be time well spent.

Jean Marie Caragher is president of Capstone Marketing, providing marketing consulting services to CPA firms. She is the author of The 90-Day Marketing Plan for CPA Firms: How to Create the Roadmap for Your Firm’s Growth and Gear Up for Growth: The Marketing Trends Manual for Accountants. For more information contact her at 727.210.7306 or jcaragher@capstonemarketing.com.