Nurture little clients who have big paws

How do you spot a puppy that's going to grow into a big dog? You look at the size of its paws. Do the same with "little" tax clients and you can watch your business grow as fast as puppies do.

One CPA, for instance, had a client who came in for routine income tax prep services. Preparing the return was simple and by no means a highly profitable job. But as the CPA talked with the client, he discovered that the client was just starting out as a solo consultant after leaving a large firm. As he listened to the client's plan for rapid business growth, the CPA sensed that this was a big paw situation and made a note to keep in touch with this client. That was a smart decision.
 
By the end of the year, the consultant had taken on five employees, had billings of more than $5 million and was turning to the CPA for help with everything from payroll taxes to strategic tax planning for his business and his personal finances.
 
On the other hand, we know a tax pro who didn't keep in touch with his so-called little clients. He ended up losing many of these clients because as their incomes and tax needs grew, they didn't feel he was big enough to look out for their interests.
 
Bottom line: Every tax firm needs a big paws strategy. Here's how to put yours in place now.
 
Actively look for clients with potential to grow.
 
And that's not just business clients. For example: One tax pro had a couple as clients for years. When the husband turned 55, he took a buyout offer from his current job, left with 10 months of salary and a sizable 401(k), and immediately started a new job. Suddenly, this little client had lots of tax and investment questions.
 
Check in with all your clients during the year.
 
Call or send an e-mail to stay in touch with what's changing in your clients' lives so you can stay alert to growth potential in terms of the tax and financial services clients may need.
 
Be proactive in your clients' success.
 
Actively share business-building tips, investment strategies, and updates on changes in tax law, etc. By helping clients and letting them know you're interested in their future, you build a strong relationship that keeps clients growing and loyal to you and your firm.
 
Play matchmaker to your clients.
 
Look for ways to refer new business to your clients. A CPA we know is always bringing different clients together: putting a catering business client in touch with clients who are planning their daughter's wedding, recommending a client who is a great auto mechanic to a client who just bought a new car, suggesting a great attorney or insurance agent and so on.
 
By playing matchmaker, you turn your client base into a community where information and opportunities can be shared. That's the ideal environment for helping everyone grow.
 
Promote the fact that you help clients grow.
 
This messaging can become a valuable part of what you say on your Web site, in ads, and in conversations with prospects and existing customers. Look for stories you can tell about how you've been with many clients since they were small and helped them minimize tax liabilities and headaches as they've become successful in business and personal finance.
 
For example, you could do a series of postcards with a theme something like, We Cut Taxes to Help You Grow and, on each postcard, feature a quick story about a client who has been with you for a long time and how your tax planning help has made a difference year after year.
 
Reprinted with permission from The Tax Strategist, February 2011. For continuing advice on this and numerous other tax strategies, go to www.TaxStrategist.net. Receive 2 FREE Bonus reports and a 40% discount on The Tax Strategist when you use Promo Code WN0013.
 
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