December is always an action-packed month for accountants. Tax projections, year-end staff reviews, holiday parties, inventory, CPE, and family time are just some of the December realities impacting CPAs, each year. While being busy is normal for this time of year, it’s important to reap the rewards that come from investing your time in these activities.
Here are five ways to make this month a “December to Remember:”
1. Optimize Year-End Meetings.
On a selective basis, include the client’s business attorney in your year-end meeting so that the meeting has the potential to go beyond the traditional tax conversation. Anticipate client needs for the New Year and the impact these concerns will have on their tax and financial planning. Expanding the agenda can lead to increased client fees right now, with the potential for additional work in the following year. Including the attorney in the meeting, with your client’s permission, is a positive sign for both your client and his or her attorney (who could also be a source for more business).
2.Broadcast the Expected and Actual IRS Handicaps.
Funding for the IRS continues to be cut and, as a result, business as usual can easily turn into disaster as usual. Create a briefing process to keep your referral sources in the loop about these bureaucratic nightmares, and to suggest some of the solutions you are employing. The briefing should be by invitation only and the invited parties should receive their invitations electronically. Holiday parties provide great opportunities to issue invitations and to tell invitees why they have been selected.
3.Go Beyond Holiday Cards.
Send selected clients a New Year’s letter thanking them for the specific number of years you have been working together. A milestone of five years or more would be a good benchmark for the right audience, with a reminder of the milestone reached, in the last year. Clients want to know that they matter, and that they are not just a revenue item. The more the client feels appreciated, the more likely he/she will be to refer a friend.
4.Turn Staff Reviews into Incentive Achievement Plans.
Intellectual advancement is a must in professional service businesses, but technical growth must generate revenue enhancement, as well. Provide your team members with clearly defined tax season goals that will create more revenue for the firm. Establish a system that rewards them through a specific bonus plan for their achievements. Individual and team bonuses should be considered, as long as the results are based on a win-win.
5.Package Your Tax Compliance Services.
Much like other businesses, accounting firm revenues can vary by season, and by the package of services that clients select and use. Minimum fees for all tax compliance work should be in effect, and updated. Pricing should reflect your preference for workflow, and should clearly define and include the terms of services. Projections can also be a great way to convert clients to a minimum fee plan, and to place all new clients on such a plan, as well.
Make this month a “December to Remember” for you, your firm, your clients, your friends, and your family!