By Guest Blogger Ira Rosenbloom, Optimum Strategies LLC
Each and every tax season takes on its own personality and brings its own challenges. Learning from the pros and cons of each will only benefit your practice. The best assessment takes place with information fresh in mind. Here are a few matters that should be considered as you evaluate the success of your busy season and start planning for the next one:
- Some clients need to be dismissed.
All practices have clients who are no longer a right fit. Waiting until the end of the year, while potentially more appealing, is not the right way to purge and improve. The more lead time you and the client have the better. So get a list started, form your criteria, and begin thinning your practice so you can make room for better business.
- Consider a graduated fee schedule.
Having clients wait until the last minute needs to be discouraged and “penalized.” An escalation of your fees as tax season progresses can both positively alter client behavior and more aptly reward you for the increased tension caused by those who don’t alter behavior. Firms that plan to use graduated fees will be well advised to create an enhanced scheduling process that will interface with the fee program.
- Priority scheduling makes an impact.
An “A” client always expects “A” service, no matter the time of year. Firms that prioritize around the best clients have more “A” clients, happier clients, and happier staff. Define your “A” clients and detail how they will enjoy the priority status and stay worthy of the “A” class treatment.
- Incentives for efficiency pay off.
Creating different fee platforms for clients who avail themselves of portals and paperless transmission will generate efficiencies that should more than offset any fee accommodation. More and more clients want no boundaries on when and how they access their information, so accommodating them creates comfort. The more appreciative and cooperative clients you have, the less your stress and the better your gratification.
- Flexibility leads to improved production and results.
Focusing on deadlines, turnaround, satisfaction, and clients rather than on hours worked and the time of day makes for a happier work force and a better communication process internally and externally. Flexible work schedules and a virtual forum are going to grow in popularity and become much more necessary to maintain optimal productivity.
- Technology needs to spur better communication.
Clients like to know you are thinking about more than the task at hand and that the task has spurred other possibilities. Succinct recommendations for action steps, texts that the product is ready, and online assessments are all tools that make communication more engaging.
The lessons of this busy season are not only relevant for next year, but they are transferable year round. You should be busy making your business better all year round. The best way to do that is to spring ahead with the lessons of tax season clearly in mind and a timeline for priority achievements.
Ira Rosenbloom is the chief operating executive of Optimum Strategies LLC, a consulting firm focused on helping small and medium-sized CPA firms enhance business performance, increase profitability, and foster practice continuity.