It is important to take an interest in your clients outside of their business accounting needs and there is no better time to do this than during their annual tax filings.
Your client relationships are your most precious asset. Taking good care of your clients helps you keep them, get referrals, and generate additional revenue.
For example, ask them about their kids – are they saving for their college educations? How about retirement? What does their plan look like?
By asking your clients simple, probing questions related to personal accounting, you create opportunities for uncovering potential personal financial planning engagements. As a small business accountant, this can be a great area for practice expansion.
Beyond completing business and personal taxes, however, there is lot more you can do to help your business clients. While clients are in your office and you are interacting with them directly on a more regular basis during tax season, use this time to explore which clients would be the best potential targets for more services, and see if you can offer these services easily and profitably.
For example, ask your clients:
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- How do they feel about doing bookkeeping?
- What challenges are they facing keeping track of their books?
- Why do they want to do accounting work themselves?
- What if they could offload all bill payment and bookkeeping to you?
- Would your client be interested if that doesn’t cost them any more than they are currently paying?
Current professional accounting systems, rather than the DIY systems small business owners typically use, make it much easier to produce customizable financial statements and reduce data entry time not only in tax season, but year-round.
Bookkeeping and Bill Pay
If a client is hesitant to fully hand over their bookkeeping responsibilities, offer them a professional accounting system that lets accountants work collaboratively with clients and has the ability to customize the system for each client. When you as an accountant allow clients limited access to the functions they can perform, it enables you to reduce client errors and save significant time and resources.
In the past, you may have avoided offering bill payment and bookkeeping services because of perceived hassle and low profit margin. Now with cloud-based professional accounting systems, it is extremely easy and efficient for your firm to offer these services. Your staff can now do everything your client staff currently does – only much faster, easier, and accurately, all without leaving your office.
Cash Flow Management
In addition to bookkeeping, if you notice that a client has a cash flow problem, explain to them how you’d monitor their cash flow and advise them on ways of running their business more efficiently. Business owners often don’t realize how much revenue is lost due to improper cash flow management.
Even more business owners are unaware that cash flow management is a task that can be outsourced to their accountant. By outlining clear and tangible ways you can help business owners improve cash flow, you can showcase your value as a financial partner for your clients and upsell on these capabilities.
When you are responsible for managing cash flow for your clients, you have the unique opportunity to ensure clients’ businesses minimize payment issues and capitalize on unexpected opportunities for growth – much like an outsourced CFO.
For accountants working with small business clients as their “virtual CFO,” the key to being able to offer the best possible cash flow management services is a highly visible dashboard. Dynamic, cloud-based professional accounting systems offer the ability to import and synthesize various inputs, such as bank feeds, and translate data into meaningful visuals and trends.
All of these resources let you quickly review essential financial information and provide cash flow guidance to your small business clients.
What About Payroll?
Finally, payroll processing is a natural task for accountants to assume on behalf of clients as it is highly intertwined with a business’ overall expenses and tax liabilities. Unfortunately, many small business owners are completely unaware of the option to delegate payroll to their accountant.
Bundling payroll is not only profitable for you as an accountant but is also beneficial to your clients – and tax season is the best time to bring it up. Cloud-based payroll solutions created for accountants rely on a high level of automation in payroll processing, allowing accountants to offer this highly profitable service without wasting valuable hours during tax season.
The light lift of adding payroll to your existing suite of services has a heavy reward. Not only does upselling existing clients on payroll services set your accounting practice up for success year-round, but it also benefits your clients as well.
Many business owners see tax season as the time to recalibrate their financial plans for the coming year and it is when they are more open to delegating responsibilities, such as payroll, to accountants. As payroll is an ongoing responsibility, accountants managing payroll processing and compliance is a natural extension of the client/accountant relationship.
While the idea of adding more services during tax season may seem daunting, it allows accountants to have greater control over clients’ finances and, in turn, manage workload better throughout the entire year. By encouraging existing clients to expand the services they use, firms can easily create more revenue streams for their practices with minimal lift. Your clients will feel good knowing that you are invested in their success.
About Dr. Chandra Bhansali
Dr. Chandra Bhansali is CEO and co-founder of AccountantsWorld, whose cloud-based solutions for professional accounting and payroll help accountants boost their profits without adding staff.