small business owner thinking about his accounting firm

It’s Time, But Changing CPAs Feels Hard to Do

By Dugan Lopatka

Over the years, your accountant has been a steadfast supporter of your business and sometimes it feels like they are one of the only people you can talk to about internal challenges.  You have mixed feelings about changing, but your gut tells you that it's time to change.  In fact, the average business only changes CPA firms once every twelve years.  It’s not an easy decision and one that usually comes after a longer than necessary period of dissatisfaction.  That’s probably why you are here on our website after all – to see what your alternatives are.

If your gut is telling you that it might be time to change accounting firms, it probably is time.  The following is a collection of some of the most common “gut feelings” new clients tell us were on their minds prior to joining up with Dugan & Lopatka. Maybe you are experiencing similar feelings.

My Accountant Is Slow In Getting Back to Me

One common complaint against the accounting profession is the failure to be responsive to client calls and e-mails. When you have a question, you want answers, now, not next week. We understand. Recognizing the reality that we can’t always be available when you contact us, Dugan & Lopatka’s approach is to assign and introduce you to a Service Team of professionals (including at least two Principles) that can help you.  When you call us, if the original employee isn't available, we will direct you to a member of your Service Team that is available.  Our goal is to get someone from our firm addressing your question on your first call.

I Don’t Feel Important

This should never happen. The client that spends $1 and the client with $100,000 in fees should both feel that they are important to their CPA firm.  Because Dugan & Lopatka specializes almost exclusively on small and mid-sized privately-held businesses, our clients are generally similar in their needs and the services we offer.  No one client or client segment dominates.  Every client is treated with respect and with equal importance. You won’t feel like a “small fish” here.

My Accountant Is A Generalist. I Need More Expertise

Critical Mass – a term that describes the point in which a CPA firm turns from being a collection of generalist accountants to a firm who has the resources to dedicate employees to become specialists and experts in their field. For accounting firms serving small and mid-sized businesses, this usually occurs when the accounting firm has more than 40 employees.  Smaller accounting firms just don’t have the resources to be able to dedicate employees so specifically.

Likewise, too many resources can be bad.  After all, you won’t be working with all of the accounting firm’s employees – just a handful. The costs associated with large overheads and the personnel costs must be applied to your fees. You end up paying for too many resources – resources you don’t need or will ever use.

The ideal situation is to find the Critical Mass that matches your business and your needs.  Dugan & Lopatka is the 26th largest CPA firm in the Chicago area with over 50 employees dedicated specifically to small and mid-sized privately-held businesses and their owners.  We believe we have the expertise and critical mass that exactly matches the needs.  The result -- we deliver the highest quality of services at reasonable fees.

My Accountant Bills Me for Everything

Fixed Fees. Most accounting firms bill their clients based on an old formula of the amount of time put into the work by a rate set for the individuals doing the work.  Productivity and efficiency are less important since the client will be charged for the time regardless.  As a result, you pay more than you need to for services rendered. We listened to our clients long ago and stopped this practice.  We offer fixed price agreements to cover most of our services. We also don't charge our clients for routine phone calls.  We want you to call us.  

I Want Unlimited Access

Communication is one of the keys to building client trust.  Our primary job is to ensure communications between you and us and to maintain quality service.  To that end, we offer unlimited phone support.  We encourage you to call us frequently without worrying about fees and the time clock.  We strive to maintain an open, highly responsive relationship with our clients, not just during periods of compliance work, but throughout the year. 

We Need An Audit and My Accountant Can’t Provide One

Your bank, bonding company or outside investors may require an audit of your financial statements, but you like your current tax advisor.  Don’t worry, you can keep your current tax advisor and still get the audit you need.  Dugan & Lopatka works closely with smaller CPA firms that can’t offer audit services.  They retain the tax work and we provide the audit.  We invite you to bring your current accountant with you when we meet.



If you want a better, stronger relationship with your CPA or if you are tired of poor communications offered by your accountants, please contact us or give us a call at (630) 665-4440.


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