How to Compete with Large Tax-Preparation Services

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You’ve seen the ads. “We will cut you tax-preparation bills in half.” “We will file your federal tax return for free.” Although this might not affect referrals from satisfied clients walking through the door, current clients might mention the ads and say, “How can they do that?” Part of your client base may be at risk to low-cost, mass-market discounters.

Some accountants might choose to ignore the ads. However, like climate change, it’s arrived and will gradually establish itself. Your practice might be safe, but what if it’s a family business and you are planning on passing it to the next generation? You don’t want your business to become commoditized.

Countering the Discounters
Speaking with an established New York accountant, he explained that longtime clients rarely leave their accountant. In other fields, it’s called the “stickiness” factor. However, clients might ask you to explain your value.

Here are a few points you might like to mention to those clients.

1. Accountant vs. tax preparation only. It’s possible your needs are very basic. They are the provider of entry-level services. Consider this analogy: You likely belong to a health plan. When you visit your doctor’s office, they might ask, “Do you want to see a doctor, or is a physician’s assistant OK?” What’s your answer?

2. Every situation is unique. It’s true, plenty of the tax return preparation might be done by plugging numbers into a computer and printing out your tax return. However, my practice is not a cookie-cutter operation. One size doesn’t fit all. Your particular situation and my understanding of it may be the difference that saves you money.

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Bryce Sanders
President
Perceptive Business Solutions Inc.
Columnist
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