Keeping it positive during tax season

The old adage still holds true, “Always put your best foot forward.” Let’s add to that, “Keep your cool.”

As your schedule heats up during this busy tax season, be mindful of keeping your client interactions positive and professional – even with clients that are difficult to deal with.

And try not to complain about anything to your clients – not about taxes, office expenses, the government, nor your competitors. Your clients have problems of their own and aren’t interested in paying you to listen to your problems.

Keep your office neat and orderly, too. A messy office sends the message that you are overworked or disorganized, which might lead clients to think that you are too busy to complete their work for them. It also sends a message to them not to refer new business to you.

So, during this busy time of year, stay focused on your clients. Assure clients of your professionalism, not just through your accounting expertise, but your personal conduct as well. Maintain your best efforts to be perceived in a positive light.

CPAs: Is your website ready for tax season?

Your website gets a real workout during tax season. Prospective clients looking for an accountant go to your site to evaluate your firm’s services. And your existing clients rely on your site for current tax numbers, deadlines, and other vital information. Is your website ready for this increase in traffic?

You should go to your website throughout the year to make sure it’s up to date. But if you don’t review your site before tax season hits, you’re likely to lose prospective clients (and maybe even some current clients) to outdated information, dead links, and “page not found” errors.

Take the time now to check your site. Ensure that it provides useful information for your clients and that it reflects the current services that your firm offers. Tax information should be up to date to show that your firm stays current with changes in the law. Make sure office hours and driving directions are clearly posted.

A website that is easy to navigate and understand makes it easy for prospects to familiarize themselves with your firm. And keeping your site up to date shows clients you’re a top-notch firm that provides useful information year-round as part of your quality service. So give your site a once-over and make sure it’s ready to work for you this tax season.

CPAs: Manage your firm and fees for more profit

You seldom hear people say, “I wish I hadn’t made so much money last year.” On the other hand, we are often asked by accountants how to increase their net profit.

Unless you want to work longer hours, you will need to make more money per hour to improve your annual take-home pay. Most of us are happiest in our work if we put in about a 40-hour week. So, if you want to double your net profit, you’ll need to increase your fees since you don’t intend to double your hours.

The first element to greater fees is an annual price adjustment – at the very least equal to inflation. Keep in mind, if you don’t increase fees every year, the fee increase, when it does come, will seem just that much larger to your clients.

Maybe you want more than an inflation adjustment. Just how much of an increase will depend on the makeup of your clients and how effective your marketing has been. Your clients are probably the first to realize that you are worth more to them as each year passes. After all, you know more each year than you did the year before. You can complete client engagements more efficiently than in the past. You deserve to be paid accordingly.

Be ready to discuss fee adjustments before your client brings up the topic. If your client wants to know why a certain engagement is “so expensive,” try telling them something like this: “Bob, I understand why you are concerned about the fee; it’s your money and you should be concerned. Let me just say that I need to charge enough to attend tax update seminars, pay for an adequate professional library, and hire qualified staff. In addition, I need to make a reasonable profit, or I won’t be here next year to do anyone’s work.”

The more specific you can be, the better. Most people want to know the benefits they received for the money paid. “Bob, we’ve completed your tax-deferred exchange of the ranch property. The tax savings due to the exchange will amount to a little over $200,000. Our fee of $10,750 represents the time and expertise it takes to complete such an exchange.”

Most people are just looking for a reasonable explanation. Be prepared with your answer before the client asks the question.

CPAs – Eight things to remember about client newsletters

  • Client newsletters keep clients informed and assist them in their tax, business, and financial planning.
  • An effective newsletter is an important tool for providing excellent client service and directing the client to your door.
  • Newsletters are an investment in your firm’s future. They enhance your reputation as a professional.
  • Newsletters differ from brochures because they allow you to stay in regular contact with your clients and prospective clients.
  • To be effective, a newsletter must be easy to read and understand. It should prompt readers to contact you for further information and assistance.
  • Your newsletter content must be timely to be useful.
  • Smart use of a client newsletter increases clients’ loyalty to your firm and helps turn prospects into clients.
  • Newsletters showcase your firm’s knowledge when you provide updated information on taxes and other financial concerns.

We provide printed and online client newsletters for CPAs and accounting professionals. Visit our website to see the many options available to stay in touch with your clients and prospects.

“I don’t need marketing.” Are you sure?

We have been told by CPAs that they don’t need to market. “Why should I spend time and money on marketing when I have all the work I can handle?” Or “My clients already know what services I provide.”

You might have all the work you can handle, but do you have all the net profit you would like? Most practitioners lose a small percentage of customers every year for any number of reasons. Some clients move away, some die, some just change accountants.

You need a steady flow of good prospects to replace the lost clients. Wouldn’t it be great to replace the lost client with one that pays you more. That is what proper marketing can do for you. And as always, the greater the number of people who know who you are and what you do, the greater the likelihood that your new client will pay well for more of your services.

As to your clients already knowing what you have to offer, you should tell that to the advertising department at McDonald’s; they could save a fortune in wasted advertising dollars.

CPAs: Get ready for October 15 filing deadlines and beyond

As many of us know, the October 15 filing deadlines have evolved into a second “busy” season. Followed by that is November, when many of us catch up on our continuing education, and then the holidays arrive. There hardly seems time enough to get ready for next year’s primary busy season!

Now is the time to get your marketing ducks in a row so that you can go into the 2017 busy season fully prepared. Here’s a short to-do list to get you started.

  • Solidify your marketing plan. Mark your calendar with important action dates and ensure that someone in your office is assigned specific duties to carry out the plan.
  • Renew your online and printed newsletter subscription(s).
  • Replenish your stock of client information brochures.
  • Upgrade your stationery, business cards, client folio covers, etc.
  • Streamline your website. Make it easy to update and manage year-round.
  • Stock up on tax return covers and tax appointment reminder cards.

For thirty eight years, we’ve created the accounting marketing products you need with the practice-building results you want. Call us! We’ll help your business succeed!

Order risk-free — all M&C products are 100% guaranteed — no exceptions, no time limits, no conditions of any kind.

CPAs: Don’t hide your brochures – use them!

Client brochures are still a proven and effective way to communicate with clients, and market your firm. Every accounting firm should have a brief and attractive office or “firm” brochure.

Information and firm brochures are a great way to:

  • Introduce your firm and make a great first impression.
  • Illustrate how your services can benefit clients.
  • Educate clients on the value of an accountant.
  • Suggest planning tips for major life changes.

There are many ways to get the most out of your client brochures – just don’t forget about them in a drawer. Here are some ideas.

  • Display them conspicuously in your office. Use an attractive brochure rack.
  • Hand them out at speaking engagements.
  • Include them in tax returns for specific clients with upcoming life changes.
  • Display them at your local chamber of commerce or visitor center.
  • Include them in a direct mail piece to new local homeowners, along with a letter of introduction.

Mostad & Christensen provides brochures on the major topics your clients care about most, including business, estate, taxes, retirement, and financial planning.

Contact us and discover how an eye-catching, professionally written brochure can enhance your firm image and increase your profits!

Toll-free 1-800-654-1654

 

Accountants: Direct mail is proven in acquiring new clients

One of the most effective ways to acquire new clients is by direct mail – yes, still.

Mailing to local businesses can provide a very profitable return on your time and money. Unlike acquiring more 1040 work, a business account can be anywhere from a few hundred dollars tax return to several thousand dollars of work throughout the year. That is why a very small percentage of new contacts from your mailer can still be very profitable.

Let’s assume that you have sent out 500 letters to local businesses and you have only acquired one new client. The percentage return is very low. But, let’s look at the numbers. Depending on what you included in your mailing, your cost could be two dollars per contact. So, you have spent $1,000 to complete your mailing to 500 local businesses.

Suppose the one new client resulted in $3,000 in annual fees. And let’s assume further that you retain your business clients for an average of say five years. That is $15,000 in new fees for a mailing that cost you $1,000. Not a bad return. Because you are dealing with what can turn out to be a large ticket item, the percentage of new clients from your mailing is not what matters. What you need to compare is the dollars out versus the dollars back over the long haul.

If you would like to mail to local businesses without all the preparation work, we offer the needed letters and instructions at https://www.mostad.com/direct-mail-kit