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4 Strategies to Calm Your Clients This Tax Seasonby
Although there is one extra day in this year’s season, that likely won’t stop those tense tax-time clients worrying about everything from meeting filing deadlines to anxiously anticipating the arrival of their refunds.
While you can’t necessarily control how your clients feel, there are a few tactics you can take to keep your clients level-headed during this deadline-driven period. Use these four strategies to keep your clients, and yourself, calm this tax season:
1. Use Cloud Technology to Keep Organized
Moods can be surprisingly contagious. If you’re cool, calm, and collected, then chances are your disposition will be mirrored by your clients. Using collaborative cloud technology to stay organized can help alleviate your clients’ anxiety about where their financials stand.
You can leverage cloud document storage and collection tools to keep yourself organized and speed up your workflow. Doing so can be far more secure than traditional methods of filing.
Dropbox and Google Drive are great for storing and quickly sharing files with your clients and staff. We’ve all had clients show up with various vessels full of receipts and other financial documents.
From the widely used shoebox to the unfortunately true story of a client arriving at their accountant’s office with a kitty litter box containing receipts – you can minimize these types of instances by turning them on to mobile tools like Hubdoc. The user snaps a photo of any necessary documents and the data is collected automatically, imported into their cloud accounting platform, and coded. You’ve got the tools to make tax time easier; it’s just a matter of selecting which are best for you and your clients.
2. Have the Fee Discussion Upfront
Before undertaking the work, talk to your clients about how they can pay for your services, roughly how much they can expect to pay, and by what date. By helping them know what to expect, they won’t be surprised by the bill at the end of the engagement.
After tax season ends, it’s important to pull back from work and think about rewarding yourself with a much-needed vacation. The last thing you want to have on your mind is outstanding invoices from clients.
Consider taking a credit card upfront for their file and allow them to use it for payment – they may even like to pay over time. It’s far easier to have the payment conversation at the beginning than at the end.
Use the end of tax season as an opportunity to begin an ongoing relationship with your client for the coming year. Discuss with your client a monthly fee plan that can include their annual taxes, plus monthly bookkeeping or a review of their financials, so they stay on track for the year and your next tax season can be easier.
3. Clear Communication Throughout
During tax season, your clients just want to be in the know. It’s harder to keep on top of your inbox at this time of year, but try to keep those lines of communication as open as you can where possible.
If you have the bandwidth, consider offering monthly or weekly check-ins in addition to your tax preparation services so they can stay informed on how their return is traveling. In-person appointments aren’t entirely necessary here – try virtual conferencing via Google Hangouts or even make yourself more available on instant messaging services like Slack.
Your website and social media profiles can be a great resource for your clients during tax season if you take the time to put out the content. Keep clients informed around important tax deadlines for filing and extensions and any new requirements or laws.
Consider automatic mailers as an option, too. As a bonus, pushing out this type of content will help build your firm’s authority and reputation, maybe even attracting you some new clients.
4. Ensure They Know You Care
At the end of the day, everyone is human – and reinforcing your commitment to your clients at tax time will see them coming back not only next tax season, but throughout the year. Communicating clearly with them and assuaging any of their fears is helpful here. Reinforce your commitment to them as a client, and stay in contact with them during and after the tax season. Here lies an opportunity to add value and solidify your status as their trusted advisor, going beyond just tax filing.
Once the work is complete, take the time to educate your clients on how they can better take advantage of tax benefits next year. Be proactive – help them put together a budget to survive and thrive during the upcoming year, along with providing them other valuable financial advice. While you’ve got them, get a commitment to quarterly appointments on their calendars so you can continue to talk them through what they need to do to be successful not just at tax time, but throughout the year.
Every tax season has the potential to be better each year. By being organized and keeping your clients calm, this one just might be the best one yet.
Amy Vetter is a CPA.CITP, CGMA and is an accomplished c-suite executive and board member with deep experience in cloud technology and transformation, creating go-to- market (GTM) strategies to scale businesses nationally and internationally. Amy has held multiple roles in Fortune 500, startup, small company rapid growth, and is a serial...