Leveraging tax season to grow your practice
Tax season certainly is an important reason for clients to visit your office. What happens after that point is pretty much under your control.
The best accountants serve as business partners. Entrepreneurs shouldn’t consider you a contracted, one-time business vendor, but rather as a strategic partner.
In the spirit of strategic partnerships, you should be prepared to answer a wide swath of questions from clients as tax season wraps up — both technical, accounting-specific questions as well as larger business questions. In either instance, questions from clients demonstrate curiosity, engagement and a possible interest in expanding the partnership.
The biggest mistake accountants are making today is taking a reactive approach and waiting to be asked questions by their clients. Instead of taking a reactionary approach, initiate a discussion while clients are in your office. Come up with innovative ways to understand your clients’ needs so you can add value to their businesses and generate additional revenue for your firm.
One effective way to accomplish that is by ensuring your service offerings are visible to clients visiting your firm. Printed collateral can cover topics like the following to showcase the variety of services you provide:
• How to avoid cash flow problems
• How tax laws will affect S-corporations, partnerships and LLCs
• How to plan for retirement
• Small business payroll
This not only educates clients about the services you provide beyond tax prep, but also prompts them to ask the questions that can lead to expanding the client and accountant relationship. While these services may be listed on your website or in e-mail updates, some clients might not understand them fully, or they simply procrastinate in contacting you as they don’t see an immediate need.
With the right preparation and planning, you can expect clients to ask more about your services, opening new opportunities to increase not only their bottom lines but also your own.
In the meantime, as we near the close of tax season, here are the top five questions you can expect to hear (or have already heard) from clients, and guidance on how you can turn these questions into proactive discussions to grow your firm:
1. What will my tax situation be for 2018?
You must have been asked this question already multiple times. If not, then it is crucial for you to schedule an appointment with clients to explain how the new tax law changes will affect them. This opens new opportunities for you to schedule tax-planning appointments with clients.
2. How quickly can I get my tax returns done?
One of the major challenges you face is that clients don’t give you all their tax documents on time. This is a great time to remind them of what they can do to help expedite preparation of their tax returns. Emphasize the need for you to get all the documents in a timely manner. If you don’t have client portals, create them. Let your clients know that by using modern, cloud-based, secure client portals, you as their accountant can intake source documents, keep them apprised of their returns’ status, and provide them with 24-7 access to their returns and financial statements.
3. I hate doing accounting. Is there a way to simplify this?
When clients begin venting about their disdain for accounting work, you should take this opportunity to talk about your client accounting services and outsourced CFO capabilities. Give a quick overview and suggest a time to meet after tax season for a detailed discussion.
4. I want to keep a steady cash flow, but have a hard time doing so. Is there a way you can help me?
Again, this is a great opportunity to introduce them to your client accounting services and outsourced CFO services.
5. When should we meet next time?
If your clients don’t ask this question, make them ask this question. Before handing over their tax return, tell them the ways you have been offering accounting services is going to change — and that these changes will help you better serve them. All of this will be relevant if you genuinely want to do what’s best for you and your clients. Get ready to revamp your practice before clients start asking you these questions.