It’s that time of year again. The ugly Christmas jumpers are back, and the office decorations are out of storage. However, with tax return season just beginning, accountants are likely feeling the pressure.
But, what if we told you that you could get anything you want for Christmas — from less stress in the accounting profession to the gift of time — what would you choose? In this article, we’re getting in the festive spirit and putting together a list of what every CPA is hoping to find under the tree on the 25th of December.
So, without further ado…
Dear Father Christmas, this year I would like:
It can be awkward asking clients to recommend your services to a friend or business colleague. But it’s an essential part of many accountants’ sales strategy — and for good reason.
Client referrals are cheaper than many other marketing strategies, plus they’re often very successful. In fact, successful referral strategies lead to clients that are 18% more loyal with a 16% higher lifetime value rate. Although, you are essentially replacing your marketing team with your clients, which can be a risky move if you’re not committed and consistent.
To make your Christmas wish of client referrals come true, consider sending out a festive email campaign to your existing clients and give them the gift of a referral discount as an incentive.
The only thing more stressful than tax return season is unclear, incomplete information from clients. Not only is it time-consuming, but constantly chasing up clients for information can create tension in the relationship.
Automation could be the answer to your tax return woes and can prevent stress in the accounting profession. To streamline the process and chase up clients without wasting too much time, set up automated email reminders to ‘nag’ your clients to send the required information. Using automation to help with this means that:
- You and your team don’t have to remember to do it, which frees up mental energy
- You don’t have to spend time writing emails and chasing clients, which means you can spend more time getting work done
- It helps to improve the quality and consistency of the communication being sent to your clients (instead of different people writing different emails every time)
Automation in the accounting industry is on the rise and can give firms a competitive edge for a future-proof business. Experiment with different tools and find out which one suits you best.
In 2019, the average professional service firm was owed £54k in late payments, and this figure is likely to have increased since the pandemic struck.
The late payment culture prevalent in the post-COVID world isn’t only affecting companies’ cash flow position, it also:
- Damages potentially lucrative client relationships due to awkward conversations
- Limits the growth of your firm
- Takes time away from higher-value tasks, lowering the productivity of your team
The best way to break the late payment cycle is to make payments as easy as possible for your clients.
For instance, creating ‘packages’ or a clear pricing structure means your fees become transparent, your team knows how to quote for the work, and your clients instantly understand the charges on their invoice. This reduces the risk of time-consuming back-and-forths with clients. You could also move to online invoicing that enables clients to pay in just a few clicks of their mouse, meaning faster payment and processing times.
There’s nothing worse than sending a simple question to a client and waiting weeks for a reply. Not only is it frustrating, but it can also lead to bottlenecks, adding unnecessary stress into the mix.
Unfortunately, even Santa Claus can’t change client behaviour. The simplest solution is to lead by example — in other words, provide swift replies to your clients. Creating email templates for commonly asked questions can hugely speed up the communication loop. You can also use an automated email to let clients know that you’re working on their query.
Your clients will appreciate your response and (hopefully) pay it back to you in the form of a speedy reply.
Deadlines are a part of every CPA’s job. There are tax filing deadlines, quarterly and annual financial report deadlines and deadlines imposed by clients who need financial information by a set time. But, just because they’re common doesn’t make them any easier to handle. Tight deadlines can be stressful for the entire accounting firm and result in accountants burning the candle at both ends.
Time management is key to preventing burnout due to tight deadlines. Consider recording your deadlines on a digital calendar, then prioritising your tasks accordingly. It’s also essential to remove any distractions to create an environment conducive to productivity.
Start by turning off any unnecessary notifications on your devices. When we hear a ping on our mobile phones, we’ve become trained to pick it up and see what’s happening immediately. But this can take you out of the zone and, over time, build up stress.
You can also reduce distractions by not allowing unscheduled walk-ins, which can take precious time away from your other duties. Instead, make it easy for your clients to schedule appointments online so you can better manage your calendar.
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