Many practitioners see tax season as a black hole – a time to merely get through alive. They certainly wouldn’t view tax season as prime time for practice growth.
But I’m here to tell you that committing to growth-oriented investments during tax season is a mighty smart thing to do, because when other practitioners are clawing their way out of that black hole, rubbing their eyes and just starting to look around at their marketing efforts, you’ll already be ten paces ahead.
This year, be bold. Take out your calendar, look at the weeks leading up to and at the height of tax season, and block off EIGHT HOURS EACH WEEK for acceleration efforts.
Does that feel impossible?
Do it anyway.
Some of what you’ll spend time on will improve your efficiency so that next year, tax season in your practice will become less of a panic and more of a well-oiled machine.
You might choose to block off two hours a day Monday through Thursday, or four hours a day Mondays and Wednesdays -- whatever works for you. However, regardless of when you work, make sure that you shut yourself off from all distractions. Close your door and tell your staff not to bother you unless the building is on fire.
Now, what are you going to do with those eight hours a week?
I suggest that you choose a mix of activities that contribute to winning new clients and improve the way your practice runs.
Here are ten solid ideas:
Design & Promote
1. Show up
Show up for business networking meetings in your area with organizations like LeTip, BNI, and your local chamber of commerce.
Get to know other business owners in your area and give relationships a place to begin.
Define or refine the profile of your ideal client.
Not sure who you want to do business with?
Look at what your favorite clients have in common.
Who do you most enjoy serving?
If you’ve decided to serve a particular niche, brainstorm and research ways to reach those prospects in your marketing.
Do they read specific publications?
Where do they spend their time, both in the physical world and online?
Revamp your website. Update staff bios and photos. Refresh your copy to make sure it speaks to your target client.
Make sure your contact information appears on every page.
Consider creating a lead generator that you can offer on your home page in exchange for contact information – like a free report or eBook, for example.
Start writing weekly or monthly emails to send to clients to keep them engaged throughout the year.
Write as many as you can now and draw up a schedule for when you will send them.
Some emails may address timely issues like deadlines; others may offer timeless advice or even words of encouragement.
What would your clients and prospects appreciate hearing from you?
Create a touch plan for your clients.
Weekly or monthly emails can be part of that. How else will you stay top-of-mind throughout the year?
Come up with a schedule that allows you to somehow remind clients why they’re lucky to be in business with you on a regular basis.
One month you might send an email; the next month, perhaps you’ll host a free seminar with wine and cheese at your office, or publish a blog post.
Challenge yourself to develop a monthly “touch” for the next twelve months.
If you’re not already doing so, initiate weekly one-on-one meetings with each of your team members.
They don’t have to be long meetings – just quick check-ins. Ask employees for ideas on how the practice might grow and better serve its clients.
Encourage them to bring you their questions and concerns. Set the tone for an open culture that makes employees feel good about giving you their best every day.
Hold a special team meeting centered around the improvement of practice processes.
Ask employees if any part of their job feels clumsy or more complicated than necessary.
Ask for suggestions on how tasks can be streamlined.
Ask about any complaints they’ve heard from clients and brainstorm solutions.
Encourage them to keep notes during tax season on anything that didn’t go as smoothly as possible.
Then, have a post-tax season meeting to design changes.
After collecting and digesting feedback from team members, consider how you can orchestrate your client’s experience with your practice.
Draw up a map or chart tracking every step of their journey with you.
How can each step of that experience be better?
Then, draw up a plan incorporating new policies and procedures and make sure every team member is familiar with it.
Every client should have the same experience – and it should be an excellent one.
10. Design & Promote
Design and promote a referral program.
Consider giving the client an incentive for referring someone to your practice.
List out all the ways you will let clients know about the program.
Orchestrate the promotion of the program – for example, perhaps the person who initially communicates with clients on year-end tax issues will also introduce the referral program.
You might also send a follow-up reminder about the program a week later, and again when they pay for their services.