Putting Your Money Where Your Mouth Is

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Success is the sum of small efforts, repeated day in and day out.
-Robert Collier

***First of all, THANK YOU for the many of you who contributed to the family I mentioned in last week’s email. If you missed it, they’ve adopted a baby girl, born without a brain–for the simple purpose that every human life matters. Looks like they’ve had their initial expenses covered! I almost never send these sort of notices to my contacts, but in this unique case, I’m glad I did–you came through!
The hype-merchants online are everywhere, and you must be very careful about who you trust.
Honestly, when I first started in business…I was one of them. It’s an easy way to make a sale–but, frankly, it’s just not sustainable. It’s not relationship-oriented, and you end up with a steadily-deteriorated level of trust with your prospects and clients. Trust me–I’ve seen that happen first-hand, in a business or two I’ve been involved with.
(Now, of course, that said–too many tax & accounting professionals are far too leery of *anything* remotely smacking of salesmanship, so they avoid it to their detriment. See last week’s posting, which went deeper into that particular subject, for more.)
Well, as a bit of a “reformed” hype merchant, that doesn’t mean that you leave aside effective copywriting. Because sometimes, what “looks” like hype, is actually the most integruous way to market.
So, as a further “insider’s look” at some of the behind-the-scenes techniques we employed in the tax firm which, in a few years, grew from $50K to $4.3 million in tax season revenue (alone), we’re going to talk today about guarantees.
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“Nate, I want to thank you for the opportunity to put a ‘fence of protection’ around
my herd. For several years I have thought about sending those professional letters
that only have confusing tax talk. Your newsletter is entertaining yet at the same
time letting my clients know I care about them. They call me and say keep those
newsletters coming while also referring their friends. Before long I’ll have to push
the fences out as the herd grows! Thanks Nate”
– Tom T. Rochester, NY
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Tax/Accounting Firm Strategy Note

Putting Your Money Where Your Mouth Is

I’ve always told clients in private coaching situations: “If you can’t make a strong and bold guarantee backing up your tax services, you need to get out of the tax business all together.”
I really mean that, too. If you can’t look a taxpayer or business owner client in the eye and guarantee you’ll take care of them with a specific promise (you’re deciding ahead of time what that guarantee will be), then why are you even showing up for work?
What makes you different? What makes someone come to you for services? (Sound familiar from when I’ve discussed Unique Selling Propositions (USP)?) And one of the most common ways to offer an excellent USP is through a specific promise or guarantee made by the owner of the company.
A guarantee is best used as a “selling opportunity”–not as a place to lay out policy and procedure. (You set up your office and train your employees to follow a system of policies and procedures to ensure you “back up” what you say you’ll do in your guarantee.)
And as a side note: The more specific accountability you hold to your guarantee, the better your employees will have to perform to meet the client’s expectations. It can be a built-in operational check.
I would say for the most part, most tax or accounting firms don’t have a written guarantee in their advertising. (Usually, of course, owners *do* guarantee the tax returns or write-up work they prepare for accuracy. If for some reason something is wrong with the work, they will fix it for free and/or pay any penalties and interest on that mistake.)
But the problem is not the guarantee itself. The problem is the owner not promoting it properly. They’re thinking more along the lines of actually having to “pay out” instead of what a bold guarantee would “bring in” with respect to new sales.
Promoting a powerful guarantee will increase your overall profit, even if you do have to refund fees at some point.
Tax Firm #1 has a basic guarantee. If the return is wrong, he’ll fix it at no charge. (He doesn’t hold the speed of his service accountable in a bold guarantee.) He prepared 200 tax returns this year. No increase from previous year.
Tax Firm #2 develops a strong USP from a bold guarantee. Tax Returns Prepared In 24 Hours. “We guarantee a one day turn around and the return’s complete accuracy or you don’t pay us a penny!” (He knows this particular target market WANTS a fast turn around on their tax preparation services so he promotes this bold, USP with “meaningful specifics” to his target clients.)
This tax firm ended up paying out for (or preparing for free) 20 tax returns, in standing by their guarantee. But the overall number of tax returns completed in his office this tax season was 450 (up 250 returns from last year’s total of 200.)
Now which seasonal business would you rather have, #1 or #2?
It’s easy to see that it makes more sense to pay out a few refunds (or not charge someone for their tax service) and get a bigger piece of the pie — than to have no refunds (or no free tax returns) and receive a smaller piece of this market!
And, of course, the same thing applies with high-end clients, with business owners, and with the lower-end market. The only thing which may change would be *what* you guarantee, and/or how you say it.
Never stop thinking about your overall “big picture” profits and how a powerful guarantee can vastly improve your current situation.

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