Ahh. Finally- a much-needed break after several months of what seems like ‘round the clockwork. This is the time that most accountants and firms are taking a break, slowing down, taking their foot off the gas. Don’t get me wrong- everyone needs some R&R after busy season, but don’t let the vacation last too long and miss the opportunity to grow & get better as a firm.

One of my most popular client exercises is the Busy Season Debrief, also lovingly known as the “Post Mortem”. I’ll share with you a few of the things we cover during this debrief session that you can replicate. If you want to gain a competitive advantage over the rest, don’t let this time go to waste. Here’s how to make the most of your firm’s less busy seasons:

  1. Utilize the time after the busy season to Debrief.

When I think of busy season, a few things pop into my mind…many of them shouldn’t be shared on the internet. However, there is one thought that I’ll share with you that I associate with this time of year- OPPORTUNITY! Let me explain….

Many businesses, accounting firms included, don’t have the systems and structures in place for substantial, sustainable growth. We get away with it during slower times, because we can put out one fire at a time, catch mistakes before they create a huge breakdown, and handle any incremental growth we experience one client at a time. However, these systems- or lack thereof- fail us when we get busy. Busy season highlights all of the areas in your client service or firm structures that are not working. It shows you all of your big hairy warts (sorry for that visual!) and also highlights areas where your team and systems ARE working.

Use this time after busy season (ideally within the 1-2 weeks) to get your team together for a debrief. Look at the systems and structures you have in place. You want to identify:

  • What is working?
  • What isn’t working?

2. Reinforce what is working

Hearing from your team and your peers about initiatives in your organization that are working is hugely beneficial. Who doesn’t love a little positive feedback? This also gives you information about those programs that you thought were most beneficial, but may not be worth the time and investment to keep.

3. Capture what isn’t working

Capture the list of what’s not working in your processes or in the organization as a whole. From that list, ask yourself and your team “Which of these, if we addressed them, would make the biggest difference?”

Now, you have some priorities. Obviously, we can’t tackle all of the issues at once, but now you have a starting point.

4. Identify what’s next

What steps will you take to implement these changes? Develop a game plan and tackle these areas while things are slower. When your next busy time comes around, you’ll be glad that you did.

What changes will you be making this “less-busy season”? Tell me in a comment below.