Tax professionals know that the most important part of the year is between December and April. That’s when you’re the busiest; that’s also when you make most of your money. In fact, the business you do during tax season will, in some cases, need to carry you through the rest of the year.
This is a challenge, of course. There are only so many hours in a day, and there are only so many clients you can handle and still give each the attention they deserve.
If you’re smart about it, however, you can actually increase your client base while maintaining or reducing your tax season workload. Here are some client relationship management tactics you can use that will help you have more clients and work less at tax time:
Client Relationship Management Tips
How to Have More Clients and Work Less at Tax Time
Educate your clients. One of the best things you can do in order to reduce your stress at tax time (to say nothing of your clients’ stress) is to educate them on how to track and maintain tax-related records. Help them understand the importance of a mileage log, for example. You might even recommend a smartphone app for them that tracks mileage. Talk to them about how receipts should be organized, and how expenses should be entered into their accounting software. Just an hour of education for your client could save you many hours when it’s time to do their taxes.
Work with your clients’ accountants. If your client has an accountant, ask to meet with him or her. Discuss the specific types of things you’ll need at tax time, and what the accountant might be willing and able to do in order to make things go smoother and help your mutual client realize the best possible tax situation. Anything your client’s accountant can do to make your life easier at tax time will probably also benefit the accountant in terms of keeping things systematic and organized. Good client relationship management benefits all parties.
Consider a midyear meeting. Meeting with your client on a semi-annual or even a quarterly basis will save you significant time during tax season. By spending an hour or two each quarter helping the client get organized, you’ll reduce your workload greatly. Not only that, those midyear meetings are a great opportunity to discuss tax strategy with your client so as to help the client get the most out of their tax return. Some clients will be hesitant to pay an additional fee for a midyear meeting, so you might include this midyear meeting in your normal fees as simply a way to shift some of your work throughout the year while building a strong client relationship.
Focus your expertise. One great way to maximize the efficiency of your tax business is to focus in on one particular market segment or area of expertise. For example, if you primarily deal with small businesses, you’ll get to the point where much of what you do is routine, and you’ll find even more efficient ways to do things. You can double up on your efforts; learning new tax laws as they apply to small businesses is a lot different than learning all of the new tax laws. Find out what kind of work you most enjoy doing, make sure that there’s a viable market for that kind of work, and focus in on that target market to whatever degree is possible.
Consider bringing on seasonal help. Another way to free up some of your time during tax season is to bring on part-time help. This might be a personal assistant that you hire to handle calls and appointments for you during the busiest time of the year, for example. It could be a budding young tax professional who’s looking for some experience that can give you a hand with the actual tax consulting. Whatever it is, don’t be afraid to delegate some of your seasonal responsibilities to others. It will almost assuredly pay for itself.
Tax season is going to be busy for the tax professional; there’s no way around that. However, with some planning and thoughtful client relationship management, you’ll find that tax season doesn’t have to be constant motion, and that you can actually work less at tax time while still providing world-class service to additional clients.
Want to learn more strategies for client relationship management? Become a Certified Tax Coach