Lending a hand Featured

7:00pm EDT February 23, 2009

To Gary R. Gerson, the work that his employees do in the community is as important as the work they do in the office.

As founding senior partner of Gerson, Preston, Robinson & Co. PA, Gerson says that the key to running a successful business is not only catering to your clientele but also creating a public image based on phil-anthropic work.

“The consumer will always take that in mind and will like to work with someone that measures up in the community that way,” says the leader of the $20 million accounting firm.

Smart Business spoke with Gerson about how to incorporate philanthropy into your workplace.

Q. What are the keys to creating a successful business?

The key for a successful business or profession is obtaining the very best perception of that business or profession in the community or in the marketplace if it extends outside of the community.

If you give that consumer or buyer of your product or your client good conscientious service on a regular basis, you will then develop a reputation of excelling in your field and will obtain from that customer client loyalty, referrals and the where-withal to make you successful.

In addition, it’s not only important to obtain the good will, loyalty and business from your existing customers, but it’s necessary also to expand the client, customer base in the community or wherever else you are rendering or selling goods or services.

That is by taking an active part in that area in philanthropy, through the charities, by service to those philanthropic institutions in that area, so that you are known by others that are also serving those charitable institutions and by the public.

Q. How do you convey a philanthropic message to employees?

For professionals, this attitude is conveyed from the top down by having staffs see that you are committed to giving the very best service and having staffs see by example that you do good work, you do good service.

Then, through meetings and working with staff and through all of your top level, to convey that message to staff will then spread through the staff, and they will pick up all of those good habits and goals to help embellish the name of the professional organization.

For the manufacturer or retail, the same message goes — that the senior people in the organization must first show by example and must also reflect to their workers to be conscientious, hardworking, and it can’t be done unless it comes from the top.

As they say in economics, not only dollars must trickle down from the top, but the reputation, the efforts of good work, honesty, enthusiasm, good products and good services must also be pervasive through example and through learning throughout the entire organization.

Q. How do you balance running a business and working in the community?

Of course, your efforts in the office and your operation must be primary — that effort to make your enterprise as fine as or better than your competitors.

It’s all a question of prioritizing your time and being organized with your time.

That is essential because at the same time, you want to have a very successful business. At the same time, you’re creating an image in your community and among your business associates and among your customers and clients.

The only way you can go at that pace and do and be successful in everything you do and still maintain the balance is to prioritize your work and your social and your philanthropic commitments and, at the same time, keep a good, strong, healthy environment.

Q. What are the benefits from a client standpoint in doing philanthropic work?

By building that good will, people, if they have their choices, will support you rather than your competitor because that’s an extra service that you’re doing besides giving a client a product or service. Besides giving a conscientious effort, you’re doing something extra by helping the community.

The benefits are, one, you’re going to meet a lot of people that are also conscientious, also philanthropic, generally the type of clientele that you’re going to be able to get business from and the type of clientele you want to do business with.

Besides meeting these people, you will gain respect from them. You will pick up clients from that. Then the word gets around that you’re working for these organizations, and the accountants say, ‘Gee, maybe we should do business with them.’

The better the business you’re doing, the more clients you have, the more work for your employee base.

I don’t see how you can offend a customer by any philanthropic work. They may be working for a different church, they may be working for a different hospital, but they will certainly respect what you do for the institutions and the organizations you’re working for.

HOW TO REACH: Gerson, Preston, Robinson & Co. PA. (305) 868-3600 or www.gprco-cpa.com