Immunity from politics — and client departures

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With all of the chaos brewing on the national political scene, it’s tempting for us in the tax industry to sort of keep our heads down and concentrate ONLY on what we “know” how to do. And that may not be a bad strategy, given how much flux we’re seeing in the Congressional scene.
But now is not the time to relent, when it comes to growing your firm.
With all of this chaos, your clients (and, especially, your prospects) are looking for a “port in the storm”. So much in their lives and businesses seems so beyond control, so inevitably bleak, that you’ve got an opportunity to bring stability, comfort and genuine caring to them–with the added benefit of real authority.
But only if you take that opportunity. And, it doesn’t just “happen” during your in-person meetings (if you even have them with most clients)…you must *systemize* how you approach your clients as their “Trusted Advisor”.
So here’s my question: Do you *really* want a firm that’s immune from competition and the wild gyrations of the political and economic scene?
If so (and that’s a real question, by the way–if some of my contacts are honest with themselves, they’d be forced to say “No, I’m not willing to do what it takes.”), then answer for yourself this question:
What creates client loyalty?
Exactly why do some clients rabidly refer their friends and business associates, while others…don’t?
And why do certain tax & accounting firms experience much higher rates of referrals and new business–even before tax season has been started?
Simple. They implement systems for creating loyalty, enthusiasm and incentives for their clients–in “season” and out.
Yes, you may think that elevated rates of referrals and “word of mouth” business come because of excellent work and a winning personality–and that certainly doesn’t hurt–but in fact, if you want these results to occur predictably, year-after-year, you must *plan* for them.
And it starts now.
In this environment of consumers rushing to cut costs–what’s the most surefire way to ensure that *your* cost isn’t cut?
Relationship–a real one.
That’s why certain firms quietly grow, even in the midst of recession…while others see their clients departing for “cheaper” online, and down-the-street options.
When your clients not only know that you’ve delivered for them an excellent service (effective tax or write-up work), but that you demonstrate the effort to reach out to them beyond sending them a bill, you *systematically* ensure that your retention rates hold strong, and that you maintain “top of consciousness” status when taxes & finances inevitably rise to the brain.
When they know YOU care, they care enough to stay and refer.
And it’s more than just sending them “tax tips” or (much more effectively) information more pertinent to their daily concerns. You must create new services and promotions on a regular basis.
Too many tax professionals wipe the sweat from their brow on April 16th, and shut down for the month without having made plans to profit from the offseason — and that starts now.
In marketing circles, it’s known as the “What’s Next” factor.
But even if you don’t have more than than the “typical” CPA or tax professional services, you can package and promote them in regular and consistent ways.
For example, make plans now to offer a “Return Review” service following tax season (or, even, DURING the season, for past years’ returns — it’s an easy upsell, especially if clients are coming from a different preparer (or themself!). I’ll explain more about why this is so effective in subsequent emails…but you can provide clients coming through your doors before April 15th with a reason to send their friends your way for this service. Which brings me to…
Don’t expect that your clients will refer or talk you up, simply because you have a good relationship. That’s the first step–once that’s taken care of, you must not neglect the simple human nature which cries: What’s in it for me?
Some tax professionals are leery of offering incentives to clients for referrals–they believe it’s more gentlemanly, or somehow less “gauche” to trust in the kindness of their clients.
That’s a recipe for the status quo.
You MUST answer the question of What’s in it for me? and do so in a way which matches the desires of your target demographic. A GREAT place to start is to use the “Return Review” idea, and offer your clients something of value for everyone they send your way for this service.
And you can do it now–even before tax season officially begins. Don’t neglect this priceless marketing opportunity!
That’s what I have for you today, heading into the weekend. I’ve given you a bunch to chew on–and there will be more to come. But do let me know if you have any questions, and I’ll be happy to provide feedback.
God bless you, and your firm!

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