Gather ye rosebuds while ye may …
The old poem talks about the urgency of youth … but I’m here to say that there is a different kind of urgency for your tax or accounting firm:
The urgency of timing.
Especially if you focus on compliance work (i.e. tax prep) — but even if you have a different engine for the growth of your practice — now is the time for relationship building.
By that I mean, a personal communication that is more than a simple “post-season” wrap-up blast.
As you probably know, the “classic” advisory mailing or communication piece for when tax season is over is either
1) A bill (unless you already got paid upfront).
If you continue to follow that model in this environment, you’re toast.
With all of the MASSIVE changes probably coming down the pike with the Biden proposals, clients will be evaluating their existing providers — whether for tax prep/planning or business accounting — along the lines of the value they provide.
But in our industry, clients are in a bit of a pinch: Most have no idea how to “comparison shop” a tax or accounting professional who can serve them well.
So they make their decision based on perceived value, or on relationship (through a referral, or because you have somehow built a relationship with them through your marketing).
And once they’ve made the decision for trying a new pro, you don’t get another crack at them for many months (or years).
So … what’s their perception of your work after the return is filed or the reports are sent?
If all you do is send them a bill (or nothing at all), they’re left feeling a little … cold. In the case of tax prep, EVEN if they got a tax refund, that number is reduced because of your fees … which leaves them considering you as a cost.
And that’s a dangerous place to live.
The answer is to do something proactive about their state of mind and address it right out of the gate.
If you’ve already sent bills out (or handed it to the client with their completed paperwork), you MUST do something to change that feeling … and it should be soon. (Our Agency clients of ours have a tool right in their email marketing dashboard to do all of this automatically … and if you aren’t a client and want to take a look at how we can help you with this, read on.)
A very good option is to work on building your relationship around something besides the tax work that you did for them — deliver value, be authentic, demonstrate warmth and personality.
Whatever the medium, it’s time to be more than a commodity to your clients by communicating understanding of how they FEEL in this environment.
So here’s your very simple action step: Start with sending them a warm “THANK YOU” for their business.
As you do, don’t fall into cliches:
“We appreciate your business and strive to over-deliver on your expectations for a tax preparation firm.”
Blah blah blah.
BE A REAL PERSON! Write them a conversational, warm thank you letter, and invite their feedback in an open, simple process.
Neglect this at your peril.
Why is this so important?
Well, aside from shifting this “feelings” paradigm, you’re ensuring that you’re well-positioned to have them trust you MORE during the offseason … and set you up for fantastic revenue opportunities that you’ve likely never tried.
One last thing: this works best when you mean it.
I.E. if you don’t have the heart of a servant with your clients, they’ll smoke that out pretty soon … and your business will suffer.
But if you DO, chances are still very good that your clients don’t even know this.
So — communicate with them. Even if you’re tired. Don’t run away from this simple step.
And your bottom line WILL thank you.
Serve the world unselfishly and prosper,