Tax and trust during tax season
With the new tax law now a reality, the upcoming tax season is the perfect time to showcase your value as a true trusted advisor to your clients.
This is the first major overhaul to the tax system since 1986 and with it comes a host of uncertainty. With the median age of small business owners being 50, many were in high school or college the last time there was a change of this magnitude. For most of these business owners and entrepreneurs, the previous methods, laws and rules were all they have ever known, which will likely result in confusion, unpredictability and even anxiety as they plan for their businesses going forward.
Even before the changes went through, accountants were being flooded with calls and questions about whether to prepay taxes, how to handle deductions, and what to expect in the New Year. Now is the perfect opportunity to solidify relationships with your existing clients by being knowledgeable and available to help them navigate their new normal.
Accounting services are engaged through personal recommendations that originate from trusted relationships. Your clients need to have the confidence to believe in your abilities, not only as a CPA but also as an overall business advisor. In uncertain circumstances, especially surrounding new tax laws, business owners will turn to their accountant with any questions or concerns they have. They already know that they can trust you with confidential information about their business operations and financial condition, as well as with their own and their family’s financial position. The deep-seated trust you have built, the guidance you have provided and your ability to give timely and accurate advice is why they chose you over other firms.
This is an ideal time to connect with each of your clients to set up a time to meet with them and prepare them for what’s ahead. You probably have already begun to ramp up for tax season; however, now is the time to reach as many of your clients and prospects as you can. If you don’t have time to call or email each person individually, enlist your marketing person and put together a campaign to grab their attention. Email, direct mail and even text messaging can be useful communication tools to utilize.
If contacting every client seems unrealistic, target a good cross section of your client book and focus on reaching your top five to 10 clients, especially if you have not already been speaking with them. Another strategy is to focus on newer or less active clients to build and strengthen your relationship with them.
Have a stack of business cards that you’ve collected throughout the year at various networking events? Be sure to include these contacts in your marketing efforts too. Ask if they have questions or concerns about the new tax laws that haven’t been answered by their existing accountant or advisor. If you get to them before their current firm does, they just might begin to wonder why they aren’t getting the same level of attention from the person they have been paying all this time.
Once you have scheduled time to meet, prepare in advance by thinking about what they will need and which areas of the new tax laws will impact them the most. There is a lot of uncertainty, and clients want and need to be reassured that you will take care of them in the best possible way. Don’t miss this perfect chance to prove you truly are a valuable asset to your clients and they can trust you to have their best interests in mind.
But what if you don’t know how they will be affected yet?
Simple…call them and have this conversation: “I’m not sure how this is going to directly impact you going forward, but rest assured that I am considering all aspects that may affect you and will get back to you as soon as I know more.”
This gives you the ability to keep the lines of communication open while looking for other opportunities to help and advise. This will also convey that you are doing everything you can to better serve them as a valued client.
Being a trusted advisor is more than just delivering timely and accurate work. With all the concern and uncertainty surrounding the new tax laws, clients need to know you are there for them. Having a realistic plan to proactively contact clients and prospects to help during this uncertain time will go a long way in developing long lasting, trusted relationships.