We are pleased to advise you, our friends, clients and associates, that Lazer Grant, as cover featured, is profiled in the May 2010 edition of Professional Marketing, The worldwide journal for marketing professional services. Only two other Canadian firms in PM’s history have been featured, we are the first firm of accountants. We are both proud of and humbled by this honour.
We are profiled because, amongst other things, we have pretty cool premises; we are a marketing-savvy accounting firm with many 10+ year employees, a 5-minute outrageous guarantee, and a bonus plan with a twist; and we build connections with our clients and our team members. It only makes sense that other professional firms are interested in exploring our success culture. Please see article below:
If you are in London, New York, Sydney or even Toronto, you have likely never heard of Lazer Grant LLP. It is quite possible you have never heard of Winnipeg. Read on – things are happening at this firm which are refreshing, revenue generating and as Joel Lazer its managing partner says, “Fun”.
Founded in 1982, the firm is located in the historic Exchange District in inspirational open-concept space. Offering a full range of services including an Aboriginal practice and corporate finance with 35 professionals, the firm competes with the Big Four accounting firms in Canada rather than smaller firms as one might expect.
With a client base of owner-managed companies with revenues up to $100 million Canadian, Lazer Grant has doubled in size since 2002.There is a culture of caring here. Encouraging everyone to pursue their professional goals, this firm is engaged with both clients and its community and has many 10+year employees.
Keeping their eye focused on community responsibility, the firm participates in a ski program for inner city children. Celebrating the firm’s 25th anniversary, Lazer Grant developed a book keeping course for single parents which had 14 graduates. “It’s never about the money,” Lazer says. “For our firm, it is always about relationships.”
“We lost two clients to the recession,” he said with a genuine sense of loss. “Since our philosophy is to be part of our clients’ success, a client in difficulty is felt personally by everyone in the firm. Otherwise, we were relatively unscathed during the recession because we identify issues faced by clients and are proactive creating solutions for them.”
Lazer’s hydraulic desk which allows him to work standing, resting on a stool or sitting, symbolizes his willingness to find new ways to deliver services and challenge the usual approach to management.
He is interested in making things happen and gives professionals early opportunities to join the partnership. The firm guarantees loans to ensure that opportunities for ownership are easily exercised. “It’s all about creating a team who want to be together to do good work. Get rid of entitlement, provide a nurturing environment, do innovative work and the money will come,” he said.
“My job is to ensure our clients know what we are thinking and let them make their own choices,” Lazer added. And to do that in the best way the firm implemented an ‘open book management system’ seven years ago. Everyone is accountable to everyone else and the team shares the same financial and activity information. Lazer Results as the program is called, is also offered to clients. Lazer says, “Every client who has used this program sees improved loyalty, revenue and profitability.”
Winnipeg is a city with a ‘can do’ attitude perhaps originally generated during its pioneering days. At the geographical centre of Canada it is a symbolic location for one of the most forward thinking professional firms in Canada. Many highly skilled and educated professionals call it home. Once there, they never leave because of its vibrant business, social and cultural life. It is barely two hours from Toronto and Vancouver and an easy reach into the northern US.
It may start with Lazer’s hydraulic desk, but that is not all that is different at Lazer Grant.The firm has a bonus pool with a twist. Often these benefits are skewed to benefit the highest revenue generators. Not at Lazer Grant.“Every member of this firm is an equal contributor to our success and so each person should be recognized,” Lazer offers. Therefore everyone shares equally in the bonus pool. “The culture of entitlement has been eradicated here and that is one of the characteristics which make us a great place to work and offer great people to help our clients” he added.
The traditional approach to marketing dictates that a formal marketing plan with responsibilities and measurables are required. Not here.“Everyone has a marketing responsibility regardless of their role. Each person has required ‘marketing touches’ and since we adopted the open book management approach, everyone knows what their colleagues have done or not,” said Lazer. “This transparency encourages the best efforts on everyone’s part.”
And he means it. The results including marketing efforts are posted for all to review. “It makes a performance difference,” he says.
And then there is the client guarantee program. Clients who wait more than five minutes for their appointment are treated to lunch at a local hot spot. It is unsurprising that very few collect on this promise.
Lazer Grant started to test using broadcast internet tools in 1999. “We understand these tools allow us to share with our clients how we think and let them get to know us, and that is important to us.
These channels give us an opportunity to build connections,” said Lazer.
“Clients want a conversation, not a detached opinion. For that reason, we are expanding our use of social media and will unroll an integrated program using a multitude of platforms this year.”
The firm is doing this without expectation.“Work will flow,” Lazer says, “It always does when we are sensitive to client issues and demonstrate thoughtful leadership. It is all about a conversation and this firm gets that. We long ago abandoned the classical model of professional firms” he adds.“Firms who are afraid of conversations with their communities and being transparent will face tough times” Lazer offers.
Lazer knows that identifying client needs and being responsive are key. “Give a client an experience that matters, be transparent to clients and employees, create an environment which encourages each person to achieve their personal goals, banish entitlement and all will be well,” he says philosophically. “The money will come.”
“I am always willing to share with anyone who wants to listen to how we have achieved our success – inclusion, transparency and reward are the secrets,” says Lazer.
See more thoughts and ideas from this firm at www.lazergrant.ca. You might just find the next best new idea to make your firm the place to work and the firm to choose. You just might find ways to create your own success culture.