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Consider These 3 Tax-Time Tips and Tricks to Grow Your Accounting Practice

Mar 26th 2015
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Tax season is upon us and it’s a safe bet that many of you are busy crunching numbers and wading through pay stubs and W-2s. But in the middle of the frenzy, remember that it’s not just about getting the job done. It’s also the best time to think strategically about how to grow your accounting practice as a whole and build revenue for the coming year. At the end of the day, an accounting practice is a business – your business.

Armed with the right knowledge, you can save yourself valuable time and resources, laying the groundwork for an even better tax season the following year. So take a break from your piles of work and consider these three tax-time tips and tricks to grow your practice.

1. Push for online accounting. Shoebox clients – those who keep their receipts and invoices in a box until tax time – can be some of the most challenging clients to work with. However, if you show them that online accounting does away with much of the paperwork and demonstrate the ease of pulling reports from the cloud for filing, then you can both be relieved of last-minute rushes. On your end, the use of online accounting will free up significant time spent processing just one client’s books and enable you to move on to the next.

2. Use practice management software. Practice management software acts as a client portal, helping you to manage information and documents, like mortgage statements and contributions to individual retirement accounts (IRAs), which your clients need to share during the filing process. With so many clients at the door this time of year, this really helps keep track of multiple conversations. Additionally, clients often send documents one at a time, making it difficult to even begin the process of filing.

Xero has Practice Manager which has a feature that allows clients to upload files; that way you can easily see what else is needed and any next steps required in the tax-filing process. You can only burn the midnight oil so many times, so save your time and energy by minimizing the paper chase.

3. Sell yourself. Tax time is the best time to sell your services, but contrary to popular belief, it’s not the only time to do so! In fact, a recent national tax-time survey among accountants revealed that more than a third of respondents believe that communicating only during tax time is a big mistake. It’s critical that you don’t get so caught up in day-to-day work that you forget to remind clients of the value of your services.

When you give back a client tax return, provide them with a value-added tidbit that demonstrates your expertise and validates your investment in their continued business. A few words of counsel as simple as, “I noticed that your cash was lower than last year and it was because you purchased more inventory that didn't sell. Why don’t we set up an appointment for next month to see how we can avoid that loss occurring again this year?” will go a long way. A golden nugget of advice, whatever it may be, immediately elevates your role from accountant to strategic business advisor. By strategically thinking about the health of their financial future, you’re giving your clients reasons to return to you more often.

Of course, in serving your clients, don’t forget to serve yourself! This is a busy time for sure, so remember to work smarter, not harder. In time, your practice will thrive due to the many word-of-mouth referrals from satisfied clients.

About the author:
Amy Vetter, CPA, CITP, CGMA, is the global vice president of education and enablement and head of accounting, USA for Xero. In this role, she is responsible for developing and executing Xero's worldwide education strategy with a focus on Xero University (XeroU).Follow her on Twitter @AmyVetterCPA.