If you own an accounting business, you’re already gearing up for what is often one of your busiest seasons—the one that stretches from now until the end of the year. Unfortunately, your clients probably want to avoid thinking about year-end tax preparation for as long as possible.
How can you encourage your clients to start preparing their documents early so you can get a head start? Here are a few tips:
- Set the process in motion now. Since accounting and taxes are your business, you think in terms of what new tax laws mean, which documents and receipts entrepreneurs should keep, etc. That’s not true for your clients, who probably won’t think about those things until they hear from you. Make it a point to send a checklist via mail or email reminding your clients what information they need to be gathering. If a new (or expiring) tax law will affect their businesses, make sure you explain what the change means for their companies. Then follow up with a phone call to see if there are any questions about what you will need from them come tax time.
- Offer a free consultation. For new or returning clients, offer a free consultation to answer any questions the client might have. If you make the client feel comfortable and emphasize the importance of proper preparation, you’ll increase your chances of getting the material you need from them early.
- Encourage clients to set appointments. Once your clients start responding try and pin them down to book appointments early. You can set up a DIY appointment tool on your website or have them call you to book a time. Then send out a reminder a few weeks ahead to make sure the client is on track.
- Offer an early-bird discount. To light a fire under your clients, offer a discount for clients who get their information to you before a certain deadline.
To keep yourself sane…
- Plan for the unthinkable. What if the power goes out in your office during a long day of dealing with clients? What if your computer crashes and you lose essential data? All business owners need a backup plan—you are no exception.
- Hire help. A busy season means you’re, well, busy. Consider hiring temporary help or outsourcing some of your work to get you through.
- Stay healthy. The coming busy season will be a bust if you get sick or don’t have enough energy to power through. Stock your office with healthy snacks. Institute an exercise plan. Getting through especially busy times takes extra energy and being on top of your game. Start now to get yourself in fighting shape to tackle the extra hours.