Choice is at the forefront of any problems or issues we might have with managing our clients. When I started my firm in 2013, I had no idea how long lasting some of those choices could be – or how much I could regret some of them.
My practice has doubled in size every year since I opened my own. As most of us do, I started with a cell phone, laptop and a handful of clients, but not an office. To provide the best service to my clients, I made some decisions in the beginning that turned out … well, I think you know where I’m going with this: some decisions are deceptive, and what looks like a convenience can later turn into something completely different.
I still have almost all of those original clients, and today, with the growth my firm has experienced, I learned some valuable lessons on how I manage my clients, especially how I manage and value my time.
The most valuable asset in my firm is me. Fortunately, I am not alone anymore – I currently have three part-time employees. Since I am now paying staff, I have to make sure I am getting paid first. Figuring my employees into client fees, I realized I was forgetting one thing – me! I am a cost and had to start valuing my time.
Realizing what time I can and can’t control is key. I can’t control how long it takes the IRS to process a tax return. I can control the time it takes me to communicate with the client, receive the information and process the return. I can control how the data is processed in my hands and how the documents are delivered back to the client.
I reached a point where I started putting price tags on my time, and I have a lot more clients now! What I looked for were ways to save time, especially with technology. For example, we use eSignature. For the bargain price of $5 each, 8879s are compiled and sent securely to the client with automatic reminders ticked on, all with a mere click of a button. I’m saving paper, ink, the time to scan and file, the time to buy supplies, postage and sign-here stickers, face time, and even some drive time. I used to think, “Wow, I will need to raise my price to offer eSignature because my costs would go up.” NO! Wrong attitude. I choose to pay and delegate that work to technology. The price on one signature document, regardless who processes it on my staff, is so much higher. I am actually reducing my costs with this choice.
The next price tag I put on my time is nearly impossible to value: experience and expertise. This is the time it takes to manage my workflow and data with the client communications, and somehow shape and mold all of that into a tax return. All of us spend countless hours, burning both ends of the candle during tax season, doing exactly this.
Now, I try to be much wiser in my choices. I look for the integrations and features that will maximize my time and do the work for me.
I feel I should pay more for the tools I am using now since I value my time highly, but I am lucky because with some of them, I don’t have to. Intuit® Link is included with Intuit ProConnect™ Tax Online. Countless hours are saved with Link. Using its integrations, I can conduct the whole orchestra that is my client, with minimal effort. For example, I can send a tax organizer based on last year’s return to the client through Link, review the documents and comments, import the income documents directly into the tax return, and get the 8879s signed using eSignature. Then, I send them their copy from ProConnect Tax Online to Link, and finally, invoice them from QuickBooks® Online Accountant, receiving their payment directly into the bank account. At the end, I download the zip file of all the content from Link to my cloud files.
What I do with my time is, above all, a choice I make. Wise choices are long lasting. Wise choices give me back my free time, and luckily, manage my clients, too!