Meet Greg Burbach-A Truly Innovative MP

Marc Rosenberg, CPA / Apr 10, 2017

Burbach GregOur MP Roundtable recently spent a morning with one of the most innovative MP’s I’ve met in recent years – Greg Burbach of $60M Honkamp Krueger, Dubuque, IA. Here are some key takeaways from his talk.

Client relationships. We encourage our staff to talk to clients face-to-face or on the phone, and always try to establish 2-3 people on clients. Doing so creates better cross-selling opportunities and it’s good for retention. We convene internal business development meetings to brainstorm ways we can do more for, primarily, our A & B clients. We initiate meetings with clients and tell them in advance we won’t be billing them. We advise our people to convene fewer lunches with clients and more onsite client visits.

Partner roles.  Our partners average 900 billable hours a year.  We ask just a few things from our partners:  (1) Develop their replacements, (2) Retain clients and expand services to them, (3) business development, especially cross-selling and (4) mentor staff.

CPA Firm Management & Governance is a must-read for partners who want to run their firm like a real business.  The book addresses ►Best Practices for managing and structuring the leadership group, ►how decisions get made, ►voting, ►how the Board functions, ►the role and expectation of a partner, ►the Managing Partner, ►organization structures for various firm sizes, ►job descriptions of key management positions, ►partner accountability and other issues.

Business Development Meetings.  Selling teams consist of partners, managers and staff – two departments per team.  They choose 5 clients and 2 new prospects per month.  The team reviews planning and cross-selling opportunities and they train on a practice development topic.  These meetings add thousands of dollars of additional billing.

Business development.  We have a full time BD person on board.  He is in his mid-30s and earns more than many of our partners.

Profitability.  “A key to making [good] money is generating income not based on time.”

Growth.  “We try not to clog our rainmakers’ arteries with client management and billable hours.  We like our partners to have specialties.  We offer a diverse portfolio of services including recruiting, cost segregation, M&A and financial services.  We feel that if we offer these services, clients will buy it.”

A unique service.  It’s called the IRS Audit Protection Plan.  HK sends a flyer with every tax return and adds the plan’s annual fee on the bill.  It’s up to the client to opt out (they call it negative enrollment). Clients are periodically sent “zero invoices” when IRS services are performed so they see the value provided.  Annual revenues are spectacular.

Mergers.  They have done four mergers with $2-4M firms.  In the first 12 months, change is minimal.  They always move in an HK person.  They seek firms with more business work than 1040s.  They commit to sellers that they will make more money after the merger.

Partner comp system.  Nothing is equal.  Partners are paid well when they fulfill their roles, achieve their goals and transfer clients to managers.  They try not to focus excessively on book of business; their system is “closed.”

A special thing about HK.  Go to YouTube and watch this video.  It’s called “The Accountants.”  The video is a take-off on the recent movie The Accountant and is a humorous promotion of HK that is sure to bring a smile to your face.  They have a half-dozen other videos on YouTube.  This is a fabulous way to promote a CPA firm in an entertaining, soft-sell way.

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