5 Ways To Stay Sharp During the Off Season

Practice Management tax firm manager and employee

You did it! You got through another tax season mostly intact and ready for some down time. The hard work has paid off, but now comes the time to focus on your tax practice. Here are five ways you can stay sharp and better your business when you are not knee deep in 1040s.

  1. Focus on you. Tax season demands a lot. Whether it’s late nights, working on the weekends or keeping up with client demands, there is not a lot of time to focus on you. If you are like me, you probably upped your intake of junk food and decreased the amount of exercise during busy season. Now that April 17 has come and gone, it’s time to focus on yourself. My wonderful business coach, Melinda, reminded me that I can’t be the best for my clients, team or family if I am not taking care of myself. Whether it’s physically, emotionally, mentally or spiritually, I need to make sure that I focus on myself so I can be the best for others.
  2. Rework your processes. As my team and I were working through the tax return preparation process we developed, there were many times during tax season when my processes either did not live up to what I wanted or could be improved. It’s easy to make a note to fix these processes at a later time. Well, it’s now later! This is the perfect time to revisit your processes and find ways to improve them. Whether you need to make a few tweaks or start from scratch, pull your team together while the pains of tax season are still on your mind. Figure out what you want to change now and test it out during extension season to see if your new processes will be ready for primetime next year.
  3. Prune, prune, prune. While you might like most of your clients, there are those we do not like as much. They could have been painful to work with, did not want to follow your processes or may not be paying for the value you are giving them. Instead of living with the dread of working with them again next year, now is the time to prune the clients you do not want to serve again next year. I was just in the California Wine Country, and one of the vineyard owners was telling me about their pruning process where they cut away branches that are not growing so that the fruit has more room to grow. Ultimately, they get a better yield of grapes. Just like pruning grapevines, cutting loose bad clients allows you the space to serve your good clients better and ultimately give you room to add in better ones at better prices.
  4. Plan ahead. This past tax season, not only did we get the joy of doing the tax returns for 2017, we also got the joy of telling our clients about the new tax law and how it will impact them for 2018. Now that we are past tax season, this is a good time to learn more about the new law and plan how this will impact your clients. Of course there is still guidance coming from the IRS on many areas of implementation, but being proactive in this area of uncertainty will let your clients know that you are here to advise them, not just prepare their returns.
  5. Smooth it out. As with a lot of tax firms, you have a lot of work to do January through April, and again in September and October. While these busy periods allow you some freedom the rest of the year, maybe it’s time to look at your practice and find ways to spread your workload out in other months. Whether it’s bookkeeping, advisory services or something else, find new areas to serve your clients and discover new revenue centers for your firm.

Making the investment to work on these five areas might not be how you envisioned your off season, but the work that goes on during this time of year will pay dividends on how your next tax season will fare. Any athlete will tell you that the work done during off season is crucial to their future success. They cannot lead the league in home runs if they are not working on their swing November through February, so take this off season and put in the work; your next tax season will much better.

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