As someone who's worked as an engineer for half a dozen of tech companies, one of the things that was shocking to me while spending the time working as an accountant was how efficiently small to medium-sized tax firms operated. There was client communication, where staff had to go back and forth with the client, chasing after documents, there was setting up a meeting where we had to ask for a meeting, there was handling a crazy number of notifications (mostly things that didn't really matter), there was a conflict of roles, where we had to use email so often, there was the data-entry where I had to constantly download files, view the files, go back to the client. There was a following-up that I had to constantly do and create/update an entry in the tax software. With these things in mind, our team put together a list of immediate low-hanging fruits that
Everything starts with getting the head right. Understand that time and money you spend to making your firm efficient is an investment, NOT an expense. You can generally expect ROI with an investment, so you need to think of it that way. If you just think of it as an expense, you will never be able to spend the money or will strongly feel like you just didn't get enough work done for the day.
Second, review your client base. Are you still retaining clients that are always a headache every year? Are you still keeping clients who always gives you documents in a format you don't like and despite several warnings, still doing that? Are there clients that constantly require your attention, and act as if they are the most important client on your list (unless they are)? What about clients that always don't seem to get enough value from you and make you feel bad? Or how about clients that always seem to give you items at the very last minute? You need to really think by first stepping back and think how much better you can serve the clients you like and working with - without the clients that are slowing you down. Sure, these clients that cause a lot of stress also bring you revenue but you might be doing that by sacrificing the quality of your service to other great clients by constantly having to address the biggest complainer. You will end up yelling less to your children, your spouse, and have more energy to attract more clients and have a happier team.
Charging more by focusing on the value you provide, and sometimes it helps you retain them better. One thing that's strange about human psychology is that there's a tendency to perceive a service as more premium if you charge more. Obviously don't just go and double your rate — that's one of the fastest ways to lose clients. Start by understanding your clients better and their actual life situations. offer to talk to them for free for 15minutes after tax season and see if there are any opportunities where you could help. They are starting their business and thinking of doing it? What are potential benefits you can communicate if they do? What if they want to think about hiring? How can you provide help? The more you do this, the more they will perceive you as an expert. Sure, some clients might leave you if you raise rates, but you also don't want to be competing against TurboTax where the client themselves could effectively
Training your employees is so important. You would be surprised that fast food always trained extensively while many companies and tax firms don't. Starts with setting the expectations right, provide them with resources to avoid burn out. More and more firms are now distributed and Zoom alone is not enough - you should also spend time documenting your business, and your values. It's vital to understand your staffss motivation and their goals in their life. Try to get to know each of them and treat them with more care (especially if you are opearting remotely). You will be much happier, not having to worry whether your staff is going to leave you this year. Efficiency comes from retained, happy employees.
Use tools like Trainual, Notion, Evernote, and other tools to share onboarding steps, and documentation for your new hire or your existing employees to occasionally look back to. This is one of the strongest reasons to use technology as it helps you create workflow and processes that can scale, and help you rely less on your key employees. In this age with so many new technologies and software, it's important to know what fits well with each other. Dropbox/Box/ShareFile/SmartValut + Tax Software + Zapier/Tray/Automate + FormStack/MightForms/Google Forms.
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