Stressful. Exhausting. And, dare we say it? Even torturous. Yes, accountants dread tax season. We know that pushing through tax returns or year-end audits is a grueling ordeal. Accountants, like you, know all too well the struggle that tax season brings. But, as they say, knowing is half the battle. It is as repetitive as anything gets. So nothing would surprise an accountant like you unless the powers that be comes up with more new legislation.
Ready: Your Planning Phase
What we’re saying is that you can prepare in advance for the inevitable. It’s not even a question of if your accounting firm can get through it because you can. The thing is that it doesn’t have to be as dreadful as you would expect it to be. Hey, your accounting firm can even take on more new clients during tax season. Yes, you read that right. You can actually focus on other aspects of your business like marketing or sales. You don’t have to go into a shell each time. Your business can actually grow while you’re in the trenches and make it a profitable tax season.
Crucial to this is careful planning and preparation. You’ve got to sit down with your team and say, “what did we do last time that worked?” List all the answers. You can then go, “where did we get stuck?” Have it all written on a whiteboard or whatever it is for all to see. Here’s where you brainstorm. Take all the major priorities to the top of the lists. More likely, they will all be priorities but pick and choose which would make the biggest difference. You now have clarity on the areas of your accounting business that you can improve.
Set: Your Creation Phase
Now you and your team can start sorting out your day-to-day reality. Figure out how you can streamline workflow to increase efficiency. Do you have the right people for the right roles? If not, then maybe it’s time to hire one or two or a team even. Hiring a client service coordinator or an admin assistant can do wonders in freeing up your clock. Next thing you can do is sort out your client mix. Be rid of the “headache” clients – those who don’t pay on time or not at all. You can also do away with those who are not aligned with your service culture and standards.
Speaking of clients, you can also start sorting out your pricing. If you haven’t tried pricing upfront and value pricing, it’s about time you do. Through value pricing, you get a substantial value return on your intellectual capital. By pricing upfront, you will be incentivised to drive time down so you become more efficient. Then, you start working on receivables and work in progress. Integrate the right technologies into your processes and you can work faster and more efficiently. The end result of this phase is to build capacity. You can now focus on client retention and acquisition. Basically, because you have the capacity, you can do marketing and sales to grow your firm and make it a more profitable tax season.
Go: Your Implementation Phase
When you have all the documented systems and processes in place and you’ve trained and drilled your team, it’s go time. This will be your implementation phase. Give yourself some lead time before tax season starts to test things out. Remember that you and your team have to be synchronised like gears in a well-oiled machine for this to work. But you have to do it. You have to dive in boots and all. All that time you took in planning and creation will be for not if you do have the right mindset. The power of an idea is in its implementation!
If you have done things right in the first two phases, now you can actually grow the top-line revenue. You can now grow your number of clients and grow the average fee per client. You can grow the number of services that your clients buy. Ultimately, if you’ve considered the overhead from the start, you will make it a profitable tax season. So careful planning and execution is the critical here. Or else…you’ll end up with 10 pounds of crap in a five-pound bag when tax season comes along.