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I’m older than most people who write about practice management. I also have a long experience with great success. If I wanted to show you how successful you are, you’d pass him off as a bragging old man, so I usually say no more than I think I need to say to get my point across.

Anyway, if you’ve read my weekly columns for more than eight years, you’ll know that I’m very committed to certain things, including staff training and retention. One of the things that puzzles me is that I think I have such clear and logical methods, but they are generally not followed. My ideas and experiences have been fully documented by no less than an interview in The Wall Street Journal in 1981, saying that I think the biggest problem in public accounting is the training and retention of staff. Many owners and partners today say this is a major issue holding them back. However, when I speak with them, I see that they treat their staff even worse.

A few weeks ago, while I was cleaning up old papers, I came across a staff manual that I had written in 1982. I had hired an artist to illustrate it to encourage my staff to read and hopefully act on it. I did a lot of other things, and that was just one of my efforts. I would say that contributed to my success as we had very low staff turnover and I am extremely proud of the success that many junior employees who started with me have had and still have.

I have read it again and believe that everything in this illustrated eight-page staff manual is perfectly valid today – with no changes necessary. I will gladly email you a copy if you request one at [email protected].com and write as subject: “Personnel Manual”. You may copy or adapt it as you see fit with my blessing. This was written in 1982 and is not “Old School”, but “Current School” or “Forward-Thinking School” (or maybe just good stuff.)

In 1982, we hired a law student, Scott Gutterson, to do tax research on a book I was writing, as well as help with client research projects. His girlfriend, Debbie, was an aspiring illustrator and she drew the images. I called Scott when I found the manual and he filled me in on his career, which was extremely successful. He is now retired and one of his sons runs his law and tax practice. He married Debbie a year later and they just celebrated their 38th wedding anniversary. Debbie Gutterson is now a successful and popular artist/painter in her own right living in Bonita Springs, Florida.

Another piece of information is that I sent a copy of the manual to The CAP Journal, which had a practice management column. The manual was mentioned, saying we would send a copy to anyone who requested it for $2.00 to cover shipping and handling. We received over 2,000 requests and ended up covering our costs for the manual. How about that?

Do not hesitate to contact me at [email protected] with your questions about practice management or assignments you may not be able to complete.

Edward Mendlowitz, CPA, is a partner at WithumSmith+Brown, PC, CPA. He is on Accounting Today’s list of the 100 most influential people. He is the author of 24 books, including “How to Review Tax Returns”, co-authored with Andrew D. Mendlowitz, and “Managing Your Tax Season, Third Edition”. He also writes a blog twice a week dealing with the issues customers have with www.partners-network.com with the Pay-Less-Tax Man Blog for the bottom line. He is an adjunct professor in Fairleigh Dickinson University’s MBA program and teaches end-user applications of financial statements. Art of Accounting is an ongoing series where he shares autobiographical experiences with advice he hopes his colleagues can adopt. He welcomes practice management questions and can be reached at (732) 743-4582 or [email protected].