Art of Accounting: Closing for Tax Season
IMGCAP(1)]Tax season has always been the best time of the year for me to get new business. The reason is that there is much less competition.
I never turn down an opportunity to get new business, whether it is tax work, audits, consultations or special assignments. Tax season notwithstanding, I am always available to meet with someone who needs an accountant.
Tax season is by far the busiest period of the year for accountants. Besides individual and corporate tax returns, we perform year-end audits and reviews; and need to meet with clients’ bankers and boards of directors. We are very busy and, because of this, we sometimes neglect to return calls or respond to emails on a timely basis.
Clients and those that need our services do not care about tax season, especially if they need something right away. They do not understand their call being put on a queue for when we catch our breath. For that reason, when I respond in my normal ASAP manner, there is a pleasant surprise since many times I was the only one who responded. “Showing up” is the best way to get new business and keep an existing client happy.
I know many accountants who have phone messages and automatic email replies saying that it is tax season and they will respond in a few days unless it is for an appointment to get a tax return done. Who wants to have a tax return prepared by someone that is “too busy?” For that matter, who wants to use anyone that is “too busy?”
Sure I am busy, but projecting a calm, in-control appearance, and being available can create more confidence than most anything you can say.
As to the work, it will get done. It needs to be properly scheduled and staffed. The staff needs the right training with proper review procedures established and with the appropriate technology and administrative backup. Your staff needs to be client-centric and perform their services with the same importance clients ascribe to it, meeting deadlines and without needless errors. When things are under control, they get done better, more effectively and more efficiently.
I also find that many firms slow down their marketing, article writing and responding to reporters during tax season. Stupid, stupid, stupid!
Edward Mendlowitz, CPA, is partner emeritus at WithumSmith+Brown, PC, CPAs. He is the author of 24 books, including “How to Review Tax Returns,” co-written with Andrew D. Mendlowitz (published by CPATrendlines) and “Managing Your Tax Season, Third Edition” (published by the AICPA). Ed also writes a twice-a-week blog addressing issues that clients have at www.partners-network.com. Art of Accounting is a continuing series where Ed shares autobiographical experiences with tips that he hopes can be adopted by his colleagues. Ed welcomes practice management questions and can be reached at (732) 964-9329 or firstname.lastname@example.org.