Every January, accounting firms and CPAs must deal with a last-minute scramble caused by clients who wait until the very last minute to submit their information. It seems that no matter how much time accounting professionals spend calling, emailing, and even snail-mailing reminders, there are still those clients that insist on handing in their information during peak busy season. If you’re fed up with the extra-heavy January workload, here are some tips that can help you reduce the client chase and spend more time building your practice.

Set Clear, Early Deadlines

Strange as it would seem, many accountants essentially dig their own graves by giving their clients far too much leeway. If you allow your clients to submit their information late, year after year, you’ll establish a cycle that will be hard to break. Instead, inform your clients that if they don’t submit their information by a certain deadline, you will be unable to file their tax returns on time. Setting early, clear cut-off dates will go a long way to ensuring a stress-free January.

Set a Late Penalty, and Follow Through

Although some accounting firms are reluctant to penalize stragglers, those that do issue fines generally achieve greater peace of mind in the long run. Consider letting your clients know that if they do not meet the cut-off deadline you have established, they will face a financial penalty. Many firms also increase their fees as the deadline approaches.

Target Different Clients at Different Times

Another option is to notify different clients at different times of the year. For instance, you might target frequent offenders earlier, and move on to more punctual clients as the deadline approaches. This can help ensure that your firm is not swamped with all the latecomers arriving at once.

Invest in a Secure Client Portal for Accountants

If your firm is still communicating with clients via text or email, you’re not taking full advantage of more modern practice management tools at your disposal. Many companies (like ours!) offer client portal software which can send out automatic reminders for you and your staff. The most immediate benefit to this is time. For instance, if your practice has 1,000 clients, and you spend 5 minutes contacting each one of them, your firm is effectively spending about 83 hours on overhead—all of it non-billable. Practice management software eliminates all that time so you can dedicate your resources to other issues.

Reduce the Client Chase and Protect Your Practice 

A secure client portal has another major bonus: It’s far safer in terms of data protection. If you’re trading your clients’ private data through unprotected emails and text messages, it could easily be stolen by a hacking attempt. And if a court finds that you have breach of your duty of care for your clients’ personal information, you could be held legally accountable and be hit with heavy fines—up to $7,000 per incident. And that’s just the fine itself—between legal fees, loss of client trust, and the general bad PR that follows, it could be difficult or altogether impossible for your firm to recover. A secure client portal ensures that your client data is safe and protected.

Invest in Our Client Portal Software for Accountants Today!

ImagineTime is a practice management software built buy accountants, for accountants. For over 20 years, we have offered world-class solutions to various practice management challenges. ImagineTime’s secure client portal provides bank-level 256-bit encryption, which is virtually impossible to be broken by even the fastest computers. We look forward to helping your firm become safer and more efficient than ever.

To learn more about our secure client portal, ImagineShare, and schedule a free demo, click here.

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