“Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.”
How are you feeling heading into tax season? With Congressional inaction making our work hang by a thread, it’s tempting to not make firm plans for much of anything except staffing and operations. However, I’m hoping you understand how foolish this would be when it comes to your marketing.
Yes, we STILL don’t know if this tax “compromise” is going to get passed, but let’s look at what you DO know, shall we?
You know that your clients are dealing with a lot of uncertainty.
You know that YOU can expertly walk them through this, no matter what Congress decides.
And you know that your clients (and prospects) are likely not paying terribly much attention to Congress … or to you (that is, unless you’re in front of them on a regular basis).
So, what is the BEST way to make sure that these clients and prospects turn to you, as their port in the swirling storm? Well, the best way is to do something to stimulate referrals.
“Hope” is not a referral strategy.
So here’s how you do this…
The Referral Stimulation Formula for Tax & Accounting Professionals
Definition of a Referral: Those clients and clients that do business with you as a result of the satisfaction of previous clients. They can be first, second, third or more generation. (They may come from someone who told someone, who told someone … etc.)
Purpose of Referrals: To increase your business without the cost of marketing or advertising. (Or increase client acquisition at a much lower cost than normal external advertising means.)
With this said, let me point out that there is no better new client that will come into your tax business than one referred by a happy client. The referred client comes into your office with less price resistance, less skepticism and overall is a more receptive client. (By the way, if you do a good job, they tend to refer even more of THEIR friends, co-workers etc.)
Now the “EAR” formula is a simple way for you to use referrals to increase your ongoing tax business.
E.A.R. stands for EARN, ASK and REWARD. (Every tax business should be doing “some” part of the “EAR” formula as a natural extension of their normal business practices.)
If you are good at what you do (and you should be) you will naturally “earn” more business because your clients WILL talk positively about you. By taking care of your clients you will earn the right to move to the next part of the formula.
Yes, if you are good (hopefully you’re GREAT at preparing taxes and making your clients feel taken care of), then you should have no problem asking for referrals!
I don’t know why so many people get hung up on this point. It may be a self-esteem issue or just a low self-confidence problem, but you’re going to have to get over this “bump in the road” real quick. Not being confident in your abilities to do what you do for a living needs to be resolved. That’s something I can’t help you with. (You’re gonna have to knock that one out yourself.)
And finally the “R” stands for recognize or reward. If you have gone this far to earn your client’s approval and you’ve been bold enough to ask for referrals, then you should finish the race by rewarding your clients for doing what you asked them to do in the first place.
(Some tax business owners just don’t like rewarding or recognizing their clients for referring their friends, neighbors etc. I think there must be some pride or greed issues going on deep down, but again–that’s for them to deal with.)
Here’s a quick story that illustrates how your clients will respond to being rewarded for their “good behavior.”
“A guy rows his little boat out to the middle of a lake for a relaxing day of fishing. Up over the side of the boat comes a huge green snake with a half-swallowed frog sticking out of his mouth. Feeling for the frog, the fisherman whacks the snake with the oar; the snake spits out the frog; and the frog’s life is spared — and that makes the guy feel good. But he also knows he has just deprived the snake of his mid-day meal — and that makes him feel bad. Having no food for him, he gives the snake a swig out of his bottle of bourbon, and the snake swims away happy. Two minutes later the snake swims back with two frogs in his mouth.”
You’d be surprised what your clients will do when you offer them a little reward or recognition!