With tax season upon us, spending a little time now in planning mode can have a big impact on your success over the next few months. Through every strategy, each idea and all the team meetings we invest in to refine our workflow and systems and to get our people on board, I feel it all pays off handsomely in the heat of tax season when clients call or drop by, deadlines loom or we face long hours.
So, let’s take a look at five strategies you can implement now that will save you time and energy during this tax season:
- Evaluate each of your systems for improvement – Whether it’s generating client organizers, handling how appointments are scheduled, the process for scanning source documents or the delivery of a tax return, evaluate, with your team, the most efficient and effective ways of performing each process, and then implement any needed changes.
- Don’t create paper; paperless workflow is now mainstream – It’s no longer “on the cutting edge,” so to speak. Consider every phase of your processes with the goal of not creating and passing around paper. Don’t send out paper organizers, but rather, put them in portals for your clients. Don’t advocate clients dropping off paper documents; instead, get them to scan documents and submit them to you electronically. Don’t deliver paper copies of tax returns; put them back into your client’s portal. The time you save with paperless processes will increase the efficiency of your firm immensely.
- Consider your appointment strategy – Do you schedule your own appointments? If so, stop…this can easily be delegated. Has your strategy been based on the belief that every tax client wants to see you? If so, stop. Many clients don’t necessarily need to see you, especially if they’ve been long-time clients. Do you see each client when his or her tax return is completed? If so, stop. Other people in your office can be trained to finalize the tax return processes of getting signatures and giving instructions. Do you see clients every day of the week? If so, stop. Block off certain times on your calendar for appointments, such Tuesday and Thursday mornings. This will free you up on your non-appointment days to get work done.
- Collaborate in real time with your business clients – In today’s world, information should be available in real time. If you are still working with your business clients in the outdated model of “software backups,” then it’s time to change your strategy. There is no better time than now to develop a collaborative online accounting environment. This will allow you to work on your schedule, anytime, anywhere, on any device— all while realizing significant time-savings. For example, with the new QuickBooks® Online Accountant, you can take back control over your clients’ accounting. The new QBOA interface allows you to better manage your client base, saving you time and money.
- Set the right client expectations – If you and your firm still have not embraced the technological world we live in today, now’s the time. Our clients are evolving as fast, if not faster, than we are each and every day. It’s time to re-evaluate your outdated business model before it becomes truly detrimental to your success.
Tax season is a great time to set new expectations with your clients about how they can work with you using your updated business model. This is the time of year when you are looking at each and every client and communicating with all of them. Take this opportunity to set the right expectations.
While there’s no one magic bullet that can ensure your success this tax season, looking at how you can increase the efficiency of your firm and create significant time-savings is critical. My advice: Before you get too busy, take a half day and consider your strategy for this tax season with each of the five key areas above.