7 ways to take advantage of a summer slowdown at your firm

Summer is a blissful time of year: Longer days filled with sunshine, road trips to the beach, and more time with family. But it can also be a tough season to be an accountant, particularly an independent one. Summertime usually means things get a little slower — clients take vacations and put things on hold until they return to work or their kids return to school. It’s not easy to get anyone to return your calls.

It can be stressful when work slows to a grinding halt. However, this downtime isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Savvy business owners know they can use the time to plan for the year ahead, update their skills, and recharge their own batteries. Here are some suggestions for ways you can make the most of any dip in activity this summer:

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1. Offer a summer deal
If you’re less concerned about laying the groundwork for the future and more concerned about bringing revenue in now, create a flash sale or hot summer deal to entice clients to seek out your services now rather than waiting until fall. You’ll probably find a few clients looking to take advantage of their own downtime to talk over long-term financial goals and tax strategies, or just get their books in order. Maybe they’ve been putting tax planning or bookkeeping off. You can encourage them to cross it off the list before fall. You can offer a discounted price for July or August, or add a bonus to your usual package.
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2. Update all your profiles
Use this time to take stock of all your social media and online profiles — LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, your website and any professional listings. You want to make sure every profile is up to date with your latest skills, experience, contact information and endorsements. First, make a list of your current digital footprint — what sites are you on? Next, think about which sites are missing from the list. Then create a profile that’s current, compelling and loaded with your important keywords. Use that “golden standard" to update every profile on the list. You can either dedicate one day to the task or spread it out over the course of a week.
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3. Touch base with your best contacts
When things get busy, it’s easy to fall out of touch with key clients, colleagues and mentors. During this time, we tend to react to whatever pressing client need comes in. Summer is a great time to reconnect. A simple lunch meeting or phone conversation helps nurture important relationships and might even lead to new business opportunities. Think about treating your top client(s) to a summer activity like golf, a baseball game, summer wine tasting, lunchtime barbecue, etc.
4. Expand your current portfolio
A great way to expand your business and grow revenue is to offer more services to your existing client base. Your clients need more assistance than just accounting and taxes — even if they just turn to you for accounting and taxes. Think about your current clients: Have they ever asked for your help with X, Y or Z? What about your ideal target client: What kinds of services does he or she need? There are numerous ways you can expand your portfolio. Offer business formation services (e.g., incorporate or form an LLC) or succession planning for small businesses. You can help with bank loan preparation or trademark applications. Think about what services would best complement your existing portfolio, expertise and client base. Then, develop an action plan for how to offer and promote your new offerings!
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5. Upgrade your software
Have you been avoiding upgrading your software? Do you typically wait until there’s no choice? No one likes to deal with upgrades and the potential hiccups. But whether you need a minor upgrade to your existing system or desperately need to get out of the stone age and invest in new accounting software, summer is the perfect time. Your schedule will be freer to tackle the task. And more importantly, if there are any snafus, they’ll have much less impact on your productivity and clients than during a busy period.
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6. Prioritize professional growth
With less work to do for others, you’ve got more time to focus on yourself. Think of summer as a great time to invest in your own professional development. There’s no shortage of online self-study courses, as well as in-person boot camps and conferences. Want to learn about business valuation or how to move your own business to the cloud? The AICPA is an excellent resource for self-directed courses, training, conferences and other live events.
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7. Take a break
If all your clients are taking a vacation, maybe you should too. In today’s age of email, text and social media, it’s impossible to step away from work and its stresses unless you actively work to step away. If you’re always on, you’re asking for burnout. Whether you take a two-week dream vacation this summer or just set aside an hour each day to unplug and do something you really enjoy, remember that it’s important to take care of yourself and recharge your batteries so you can stay focused for the rest of the year!