NST Professional loses associate, needs HR plan to prevent disasters and grow long-term
71 Marycroft Ave., Woodbridge, ON
Ph: 289-371-3080, Fax: 289-371-3081, http://www.nstprofessionalcorp.com/
3 full-time, plus temporary and part-time workers
Accounting, taxation and consulting services
Owner-operated TSX-listed companies in mining, oil and gas exploration and software; small businesses and professional service providers
Things were humming along quite nicely for Nick Tsimidis’ accounting firm, NST Professional Corp.
The small, Woodbridge, Ont.-based practice, which he ran with help from one other accountant, was generating a tidy $300,000 in annual revenue.
But this past August, after almost a decade, Tsimidis’ associate and close friend suddenly announced he was leaving.
“He had a great opportunity elsewhere, so I was behind it,” Tsimidis explains. “It wasn’t good for me, but you can’t stop someone from achieving success.”
Suddenly Tsimidis, who has no other accountant on his skeleton crew of three to pick up the slack — the others work in administrative positions — was in a serious bind, and unsure of how to cope.
Without a proper disaster plan in place, Tsmidis has been forced to run himself ragged over the past few months, taking over the departed associate’s portion of the business to keep NST afloat.
“We had no capacity,” Tsimidis says. “So I’ve had to suck it up and work Saturdays and Sundays until I can find someone to replace him.”
Struggling to maintain the status quo has prevented Tsmidis from growing his business and pursuing new clients. And the staffing shortage has also exacted a toll on NST’s existing clientele — owner-operated TSX-listed companies in mining, oil and gas exploration and software, as well as small businesses and professional service providers — who have been told to adjust their expectations until things at NST get back to normal.
“Clients expect that when they call you, things get done, which happened before,” says Tsimidis. Now, he adds, “I’ve had to say, ‘I’m short-handed, it might take longer.’ Most of the clients have been OK though; they understood.”
Glenn Nishimura, a human resources expert who runs Nishimura Consulting, says Tsimidis’ plight is all too common.
“I’m not surprised at all that Nick finds himself in this situation,” he says. “Small businesses don’t give HR much thought.”
Tsimidis brought in a part-time accounting staffer for a few months to ease his burden, but he’s yet to find a permanent replacement for his lost associate.
It’s not for lack of effort. He’s been searching for candidates by tapping his professional network for referrals and posting online ads on the free classifieds site Kijiji.
“I posted something and got resumes back within an hour,” he says.
So far he’s sorted through about 50 applications, but few of the respondents are qualified.
“I need people with knowledge of how to use the accounting program QuickBooks, and the tax program, Taxprep,” says Tsimidis. “Someone who has worked in an accounting practice and has handled small companies, and who can multi-task.”
After a month-long search, Tsimidis has found five suitable candidates, and wants to make a decision before the holiday season arrives.
“We’re going into the second round of interviews now,” he says, noting his full work-load has delayed the process. “Hopefully there’s going to be a solution in the next few weeks.”
And, having learned a lesson from the disastrous staffing situation he’s been enduring lately, Tsimidis plans to prevent further such incidents by hiring a third accountant.
“I want to grow the company and get more clients, so I have to build in a redundancy,” he says.
Nishimura thinks Tsimidis should consider hiring a recruitment firm that focuses on accounting, rather than trying to handle staffing on his own.
“He’s got a business to run,” says Nishimura. “Yes, (a search firm) will charge you 20 per cent or more of a candidate’s base salary, but it would be a drop in the bucket compared to the business Nick could stand to lose in the future, he’s so pulled down in the weeds and stressed out with trying to find another associate.”
Plus Tsimidis isn’t just a chartered accountant; he’s a seasoned entrepreneur who has started several other affiliated businesses from scratch.
He’s president of Mortgage Cents Inc, a mortgage broker with customers across Canada. He is also chief financial officer of First Canada Capital Markets Ltd., a boutique investment bank that secures financing for private and public companies.
But Tsimidis’ accounting practice is his “bread and butter,” he says, accounting for 60 per cent of his service empire’s overall business.
Considering he has more than 25 years’ of business experience, Tsimidis admits he should have had a better HR policy in place to avoid the current mess he’s bogged down in.
“Unfortunately,” he says, “I never asked the question, ‘That person working beside me, what if he wasn’t with me, what would I do?”