From considering drastic action to a cultural (and cash-flow) revolution

Quick read: CPT was founded thirty years ago. In recent years, with two partners leaving, Brian (the sole partner) faced a choice – bring in new partners or work smarter. Brian chose the latter. This is his (and his team’s) story. 


“There were months before the AVN effect started to kick in when I couldn’t pay myself.  

I needed to see something improving, or we would have had to do something drastic, such as selling to someone else or merging – but this was never my ambition – my ambition was to grow this practice with some really good clients”. 


CPT – In a nutshell 

Brian Thompson heads up CPT. With a HQ in Darlington and a satellite-office in Sunderland, his firm serves both personal and business clients spanning a multitude of industries. 

CPT was formed in 1995, and over the course of thirty years you could say that A LOT has changed. Lorna Christy retired two years ago – the last of two partners to leave since Brian joined in 2008. 

Today, CPT is a team of six – formed from Brian’s PA, three accountants, a payroll team member, and a receptionist (an exceptional apprentice, by all accounts).  

CPT is currently expanding and will be seeking a new accountant in a couple of months. So we should probably find out how they turned it all around… 


“I was blown away by the AVN masterclass” 



“We were at breaking point – we were frustrated, and team morale was low. We had a lack of clarity, and there was no growth (despite winning new clients)”. 


Before AVN, the 9-to-5 at CPT was tough. Brian was constantly worried about cash flow, and things were tight (especially in the run up to Christmas, as the firm counted down to the tax-due date of January 31st). Things had to change.  


“Billing procedures weren’t working, jobs weren’t being turned around quickly enough, cash flow was severely affected”.  


In their bid to be proactive, multiple CPT team members attended a variety of AVN workshops, and today CPT is unrecognisable from the fraught firm it once was (something that has been driven forward by CPT’s AVN Steering Committee). 


The problem with training is that you can often think “that’s a great idea, we must do that, we must do that”, but unless you focus it can all fall by the wayside (no matter how good the idea was). 


After the masterclass, Brian and his team realised the importance of making a difference in their clients’ businesses.  


“Compliance isn’t sexy. Now, we ask “what’s your WHY?” We talk through things – it’s really key”. 


CPT had always valued client relationships. But now their direction is different. Brian will ask them about their personal objectives – something that sometimes takes his clients by surprise. By focussing on objectives beyond the business (which is, after all, just a job) they’ve helped their clients in achieving goals and dreams – from freeing up time for family, to repaying student loans.  


“AVN just focuses you”. 


Yet all these changes may not have happened at all, if Brian had listened to his initial concerns about the impending tax bill that loomed around the time of the first AVN workshop. By choosing to invest in AVN, it’s possible that he’s took the right turn at a crossroads where the other options were merging or selling up shop. 


“It’s a great investment”. 


All change at CPT 

72 hours (and counting down) 

Brian was the bottle-neck of the business – something that has been remedied by a simple clipboard that shows him what is needed and by when, helping Brian to focus. This has transformed workflows in the office. 


Fees have been overhauled 

We were charging £50 for an annual return, which was ridiculous, as our software maintained the statutory books. It’s now £150. Two people decided to do it themselves. This change has been worth £9,000 straight away (and other fees have been increased by between 20% and 30%). It’s all about packaging it differently and presenting it correctly. 



The team have become client go-tos 

By handing more responsibility to his team members, Brian’s team have really stepped up to the plate, with clients now calling and often preferring to talk with them. 


“A practice always revolves around one person. And it’s not that now. It’s about a business where our clients don’t need to speak to me – which is quite the shift as compared to years ago”. 


A blank wall of good client news 

CPT have also implemented a blank wall that has been transformed with post-its that detail the good things that they’ve achieved for their clients.  


The morale is better because they can see that the results are there. When the billing wasn’t there, it was demoralising for all of us. If you want people to buy into something, you have to involve them”. 


This has been nothing short of a revolution for CPT. And the most impressive part? That all of this change has taken place in just four short months.  


What’s next for CPT? 

Brian is focused on continuing doing what they’re doing, with their AVN Steering Group guiding their efforts each week, from which usually comes three or four instantly actionable objectives. For them, this is about small, regular improvements. 


“We need to make sure that we don’t become stale in what we’re doing, and that we’re constantly moving. We need to position the firm to where we need to be”. 


Want to make better choices about the role you play, the hours you work, the income you make or the difference you make? Maybe like Brian, you’re stood on the precipice of a drastic decision you really don’t want to make. 


Want to discover where you should be focussing to improve your practice? 


Generate quick wins for the effort and time you put in, and the profit you get out, by using our free online Practice Diagnostic tool. Click here: