Barkman has encouraged Beahm’s proactive approach and has integrated her analysis into everything from strategic planning to day-to-day operations. Keeping work-in-progress reports and understanding what’s coming in and going out at a particular time has allowed him to find efficiencies he didn’t know existed.
“Every year I take the team off site to plan and focus on the next year. This last year, we focused on growth and a 10-year plan. [Beahm] was able to take that plan and articulate it into what it means on the financial side and what it means on the staffing side, create an org chart and determine what it means for revenue coming in. She’s able to do that with an eye toward the finances. It’s like working with an adviser or coach. Another thing has been her ability to forecast taxes to cash flow management. These are things that aren’t often done well, but her expertise allows her to do those things very well.”
Why a CPA?
As Barkman’s business grew in size and scope, so did the company’s need for professional accounting and financial management. Golden Rule Builders evolved into having its own CPA and saw its operations become more efficient and profitable as a result. Any business of any size can take advantage of the expertise of a CPA, whether that person is on staff or part of an outside firm. With tax codes constantly changing and ever-growing complexities inherent in running a business, a small business owner simply can’t have all the answers. Here is where a professional perspective comes in. “A CPA requires five years of education and then must pass a rigorous exam,” Metzler explains. “You have to keep up your state licensing, and the profession requires 40 hours of professional development per year. CPAs are experts in the language of business.”
Whether working with an outside firm or with a staff accountant or CPA, it is important to keep a regular dialogue about your company’s finances and be proactive. Metzler advises consulting with a CPA at least once per quarter to review finances. “A CPA should not be treated like they’re a historian after the fact,” he says. “The value is in proactive, forward-looking planning.”
After his earlier experiences, Barkman also suggests regular communication and reporting from the financial side of the business. “To use a [Ronald] Reagan term, ‘trust, but verify.’ Have a systemic approach to finances and have your people report what’s happening and where things are, rather than just assuming,” he says. “That means to have thorough reports and not just someone saying, ‘yeah, things are fine.’ You need reports so you can see it.”
The needs of every company are different, and some may want to employ an in-house CPA, while others will do very well working with an outside firm. Metzler notes that companies often will bring in their own staff CPA when they grow to the point of earning around $5 million per year, or if the remodeler is doing a lot of government work and needs more sophistication in estimating. Either way, finding the right CPA is always important. “You want to work with a CPA that understands you and speaks the language of your business. Chemistry is important,” he says. “CPAs often become very attached and enthused about the businesses they work with.”
As for how to find that right CPA, there are many online resources businesses can use, but Metzler suggests that referrals are always a good way to go. “A really good way to go is to contact your bank, your lawyer or your insurance professional and see whom they’re using. There is nothing like a referral from a trusted source.”
For Barkman and Golden Rule Builders, the answer turned out to be right under their nose. Barkman was able to recognize the talent in his midst and support the kind of education and training that would serve to improve his business. “I’ve learned a lot working here, so it’s not like I came in knowing everything. I’ve gotten just as much back from Golden Rule,” Beahm says. “[Barkman] supported my learning, so I grew into this role, and hopefully I’ll continue growing and will become more valuable.”
Allen Barry writes about remodeling and construction from Chicago.