We know the idea of trying to do even more during your busiest season seems like a bit of a stretch. It doesn’t seem to leave a lot of time for planning your future.
But we’d like to suggest that your busy season is also the best season for shaping up your firm’s overall strategy. Why? Because it’s at this time that you’re going to have the clearest picture of where your workflow builds blockages.
Here are 4 ways you’ll be able to use the tax return season’s busy pace to set your firm up for a healthy dose of both streamlining and expansion.
Add Extra-Value Teasers.
Here’s a way to make yourself look like a hero to your clients during the busy season – with every return add a little extra service in a note. If Client A is a small business owner, maybe mention that you’ve been giving some thought as to how to save them some money on inventory overhead. Or maybe Client B is self-employed, and you’ve dug up some ways they can save some money on a home-office set-up.
You’re doing two major big things here.
- You’re personalizing the client. They’re no longer going to see themselves as just another file in your firm; they’re someone you spent some extra time on when you didn’t have to.
- You’re presenting extra services they may be interested in with the softest sell possible. Services that they’ll continue to use (and pay for) in the future.
Both points spur growth. The latter earns you more services sold; the former earns you word of mouth, the best kind of advertising a firm can get.
Push Your Clients Toward Cloud Services.
It can be an enormous time sink to try to create order out of the chaos presented to you by a disorganized client. Multiply that time sink by ten clients, or a hundred, and your workload doubles, then triples, and then it’s time to invest heavily in some midnight oil.
By switching to cloud services you’re going to reduce and possibly even eliminate a lot of data entry and coding. You end up with a pre-sorted file that is going to knock days off of your current workload.
There’s also the added bonus that you’re not going to have to wait for the physical delivery of receipts – all the info will be instantaneously available to you at a moment’s notice.
How do you sell online cloud services to your client? After all, it can be a bit more work for them, work they have traditionally been paying you to do.
- It’s easy and takes almost no time at all if services like BankLink or Receipt Bank are utilized.
- It allows the client to instantly see things like cash flow, projections and management reports to get more control over their business and plan accordingly.
The growth potential for you is you will be more efficient so you can take on more clients and your clients will be happier and refer more business to you.
Integrate Practice Management Software Into Your Routine.
Your clients aren’t the only ones who can benefit from a software upgrade. If you’re not familiar with practice management software, it’s a program that’s basically a one-stop shop for your entire accounting service.
All of your team are going to be able to contribute to any single file via the software. You or your manager are going to be able to call up information on any file right from your desk, enabling you to check on the status of multiple files with just a few clicks, instead of multiple meetings or face-to-faces.
With the right software you’ll be able to manage and investigate a client’s retirement contributions, mortgage payments, various other expenses, and their variety of incomes. Plus you can also handle your in-house concerns like billing and file management. A cloud service like Xero offers a Practice Manager module.
Just like with Point 2, you’re going to save yourself a ton of time, setting yourself up for that client expansion.
Identify Workflow Blockages
Like we mentioned in the introduction, the busy season is when your firm’s processes are the most likely to get jammed up. That means it’s the best time to identify what most needs fixing or expansion in your systems.
There are two ways to clear those blockages:
- Hire more in-house talent – Not a bad idea, but it can rack up the overhead. Remember, you’re not just paying new talent’s salaries and benefits, you’re also paying for office furniture, computers, power, HR time spent recruiting, training time, and location rent (and you might have to find a bigger location to accommodate the extra staff, which means there’s also time spent looking for that location, moving costs, and possibly higher rent).
- Outsource your accounting services – All of the benefits of bringing in extra already-trained expert staff, with none of the in-house overhead expenses. We obviously believe that Option 2 is by far your best bet. By cleaning up your workflow blockages without the big costs of additional in-house staff you’ll be smoothing out your systems and freeing up an incredible amount of time.
Make Time for Yourself
Even in your overwhelming busy returns season it can prove immensely rewarding to take a moment to step back and look at your firm’s big picture. You’ll get the clearest sense of what is working well versus what needs improvement.
That time is going to result in a more efficient you, and a much happier client base, both of which are going to help your firm grow.