Cool evenings. Colorful leaves. Pumpkin-flavored everything. These are just a few of the reasons I love fall and I bet you do, too.
This time of year I often hear that CPA’s like yourself are starting to ask themselves some tough questions. As we enter into the final stretch of 2017:
- You may be looking at your profitability and wondering what you can do to kick it up a notch before December 31st. And what you can do after we celebrate the new year to continue adding to your income in 2018 and beyond.
- You may be asking yourself how you improve your quality of life as a CPA—because we all know, even though we CPA’s tend to hibernate in our offices during tax season—the world outside keeps on turning. The kids still have baseball games you need to attend. Spouses still want you home at night so you can have dinner as a family. Aging parents still need extra care. You get the idea.
- You might also be considering how you can better present yourself in the marketplace, knowing most of your clients could throw a rock and hit 5 other CPA’s that would be happy to take their business.
So, let’s discuss.
To increase profitability before the end of the year you could create a new service offering—something along the lines of “the tax concierge.” There are more than 28 million small businesses in the United States. And the smaller “small businesses” are, the less likely they are to have a clue what to do with their tax stuff. As a tax concierge you could create a simple system that would literally save their sanity. Instead of asking them to sort through all of their receipts, offer to pick up their shoebox for them and take care of it on your end for a nominal fee. Instead of expecting them to sort through that big pile of paperwork you’re probably accustomed to sending them every year, hire someone to complete it and then submit it on their behalf for a moderate fee. Look for ways to provide red carpet service and you’re likely to find lots of ways to add to your income. And to continue growing your paycheck in 2018, this is a good time to consider which designations you can add to your resume. There are more than three dozen different certifications accounting professionals can earn and almost all of them result in a paycheck that’s 5-15% more than market average.
To improve your quality of life you may want to use this time to build your team. One of the biggest traps new business owning CPA’s fall into especially is the thought that they should do everything themselves because they a) can b) don’t have the money to hire someone else to do it. The problem with that kind of thinking? Before you know it, you’ll be working 24/7 and you’ll still have a to do list that’s a mile long. The truth is, you cannot run a successful practice solo. You’ll always be drowning. This is a good time to do something about it. Make a plan now that will allow you to hire someone else to answer phones, manage books, develop new business, etc. so you can focus on doing what you do best, taxes. Doing so will allow you to leave the office at a reasonable time every day and truly shut off when you walk out the door rather than find yourself tied to your electronic devices all day, everyday.
To gain a competitive edge you can spend time right now addressing a fundamental marketing question: “who is my ideal client?” We’re not talking generalities here. You need to know the basic demographic stuff everyone talks about (age, gender, income, etc.). But you also must absolutely know much more than that. This is a good time to find the answers to the following questions:
- What keeps my clients up at night when it comes to their taxes and how can I help them get a restful night of sleep instead?
- What’s one thing I do really well that my clients respond favorably to? How can I do more of it?
- Do I have enough reviews? We live in an age of social proof. If you don’t have reviews online, there’s no time like the present to start accruing them. It’s really a must-do in today’s market if you want to stay relevant.
- What tactics, tools and time-saving tips can I share that would make my clients say, “he’s the man!”? How do I want to share them (social media, blogging, emails, or … ?)
- What problems in the marketplace are my ideal clients complaining about? Do they say visiting their old CPA was a lot like showing up to a doctor’s appointment only to find the doctor was running an hour behind schedule and that they were just expected to wait? Do they express frustration because other CPA’s just fill in the software blanks instead of really servicing them by identifying tax loopholes they could take advantage of? If you’re not sure, you can certainly ask. You can also look on Yelp at your competitor’s reviews. You’ll find a goldmine of information there that will help you gain a competitive edge in a flash.
So now you know what to do. Grab a pumpkin-spice latte and sit by a window overlooking the colorful trees while you work on this stuff today. And then, when the cool evening starts to roll around, take a step to immediately improve your quality of life. Close your computer. Turn off your phone. Go outdoors. Spend time with loved ones. And make the choice to live the life you really want to live