With the busy season right around the corner, now is the time to take some steps to ramp up your business by building new relationships, strengthening old ones, and fine-tuning your operations to be in tip-top shape for the busy months ahead.
Get your power partners in place
Referral partnerships, or “power partners,” are professionals who commit to referring good new clients to each other. Your core group can include financial experts who don’t do the same kind of work you do, insurance brokers, business coaches, marketing companies, IT services, and many more. Choose services your ideal client base might need, research the most respected in those fields in your area, and approach them with the idea of creating a partnership.
Take care of your current clients
Power partnerships are a great source of new clients, but your current clients are 12 times more likely to work with you this year than new clients are, so give them plenty of attention and TLC. Take the time to go through your client list in order to identify your existing clients who provide you with the most business, in the fields of work you want to build and grow, and are pleasant to work with. At the same time, identify clients you don’t really want: those whose work is not what you would like to continue to do as well as those who don’t pay on time, are not pleasant to work with, or are cheap. Allow your staff to offer their suggestions about “the best and the worst” of your clients. It will make them feel great to be able to give the “thumbs down” to a client who is a source of anxiety or frustration.
For those clients with whom you would like to discontinue working, now is the time to send a professional and respectful Disengagement Letter so they have time to find another accountant. It is perfectly reasonable to refine your client base to include only those clients who are a good fit for your firm.
For the top clients you’ve identified, give them additional attention. Perhaps offer an exclusive opportunity – this doesn’t necessarily mean a discount. It might be first dibs at a new service you’re offering, a complimentary Q&A session, or something customized to each one. Find a way to make each feel special.
For all your clients, send email reminders of upcoming deadlines, changes in tax guidelines or regulations that may be pertinent to them, and tips and advice that they might need. These could be bulk emails, but be sure to personalize them with their names and segment them, if necessary. For instance, your email may have the same intro and conclusion for all your clients, but the advice for your small business clients would be different from advice for your personal finance clients. Many email marketing or customer relationship management tools have this ability.
And believe it or not, direct mail still works. A personalized postcard reminder of the upcoming tax season can cause your clients and new prospects to pick up the phone.
Prep your practice and your team
Now is the time to optimize your website for local searches, create a Google listing, and ask your best clients to write online reviews for you. These steps will significantly improve your online branding and web results.
Check your tech. Do you need to update any software or hardware? Do you have sufficient cybersecurity firewalls and protections? Are your safety protocols being followed by your staff?
Review office procedures to find bottlenecks or inefficiencies before things get crazy again. If the bottleneck is a person, you may have to invest in some one-on-one training or consider a replacement. Just as with your clients, it’s important that your staff be a good fit for each other and for your firm as well. Invest in excellent training and ways to maintain high morale in the office but be willing to make the tough decisions when necessary.
Review any changes in tax law or industry regulations that might impact any of your clients. Make sure your staff is fully trained in these changes so your clients will get the most accurate information and the very best service.
Take these steps every year, beginning before the busy season is upon us, and you will see your business grow smoothly into the future.