Let's start with the purpose of a retreat. Each firm's retreat may serve different purposes. Firm size, operating structure and history can impact the reasons for having a retreat. Here are some of the common purposes for having a retreat:
- Review and Accountability - A retreat is a great format to review the results of the last year. How did the firm perform compared to expectations? Why were there differences? Have departments and service areas performed as expected? Why or why not?
- Clarify vision and strategic focus - It's important to revisit where the firm is going and how it's going to get there. All shareholders needs to be working towards the same future. The group needs to look at what has changed within the industry and markets that may impact the firm. Is the strategic focus we developed a year ago still relevant? Should we continue to focus our time and resources in the same niche areas? What are the key issues facing our firm? How will we handle them?
- Strategic Niche Planning - Once the group refines the strategic focus, it's important to drill down to create clear, measurable plans for each niche or service area. What are the strategic goals of the dental niche and what actions will move the niche towards those goals? What milestones and performance indicators should we watch to make sure the niche is on the right track?
- Key Firm Issues - Every firm has key issues that need to be address. Some are common to many CPA firms, such as succession planning, staffing and team development. Others may be more specific such as future mergers, hiring, technology, evaluating key team members, etc. Having a discussion and developing a plan to address the key issues is important.
- Shareholder Relationships - Shareholders are the leaders of the firm. They must have a common vision and share consistent messages across the firm. To do that there must be teamwork, effective communication and mutual respect. Many shareholders don't work directly with other shareholders on a daily basis, so it's important to have team building activities and social time to keep the bonds strong. The retreat offers an opportunity to reconnect and strengthen relationships.
So, what happens at the Shareholder retreat? Lots of brainstorming, strategizing, questioning, problem solving, spirited discussions and hopefully some fun. The Shareholder group comes back to the office with a clear direction, strong relationships and excitement about the future.
Here are a few photos from the J&R Retreat last week.