Like all accounting firms, you celebrate the end of tax season. With the stressful days behind you, you may be ready to sit back and enjoy the lull.
But now isn’t the time to relax. Now that you have a slight break, it’s a key opportunity to evaluate your performance and prepare for next year.
During tax season, you undoubtedly accumulate a mountain of data scattered across various tools. The volume and velocity of this data is unmatched during the rest of the year. Post-tax season is a chance to develop insights from all of that information. (Hopefully your practice management system has a reporting and analytics feature.) If you neglect to comb through your data and learn from it, your next tax season will be identical to this past one.
In this article, we’re going to offer some advice to prepare yourself for the next tax season. These tips will boost your efficiency and strengthen your firm.If you neglect to comb through your data and learn from it, your next tax season will be identical to this past one. Click To Tweet
Implement Document Management
According to Intuit, 65% of tax work time is spent chasing information from clients. This is a major bottleneck that all accountancy firms suffer with. It represents a lot of time that could be better spent on more meaningful work. So if you haven’t already, now is a key time to implement a document management system.
Use the slow part of the year to find a document system that works for you. This should be a central repository that categorizes and stores documents securely. It should be easy to find documents and identify who has accessed them. Put someone in charge of monitoring and maintaining this system.
ImagineTime’s Document Management system makes file management fast and simple. It’s full of convenient features to help you move, copy, access, and search for files. The scanning module allows you to scan a document to multiple locations with a single scan.
Review Your Staff Management
How did your staff perform during the season? Were they able to support the load? Did anything fall through the cracks? Did the right people have suitable projects? Did they allocate their time appropriately?
Your labor resource is often one of your biggest issues during the peak season. If they aren’t utilized efficiently, you’ll develop problems with stress, burnout, and poor performance. The last thing you want is a client with unnecessarily tax liability because an overworked accountant made mistakes.
Comb through your analytics to understand exactly how your team is spending their time. Your goal is to understand if they are meeting your clients’ needs and completing projects in reasonable time frames.
ImagineTime’s time entry feature lets your team keep track of every minute they spend working so nothing gets lost. The easy-to-read performance reporting shows a breakdown of your team’s hours so you know how long tasks take. This lets administrators spot any potential bottlenecks and issues.
Address the Morale and Culture
Tax season is exhausting on everyone in the firm, from top to bottom. You undoubtedly have some people on your team looking for a break. There might be tension among employees due to performance. Some may be struggling with more difficult questions, like “Is this really what I want to do with my life?”
An unmotivated team is unlikely to perform well. They might under-serve clients or make expensive mistakes. So after tax season is the best time to address these morale issues and help your team de-stress.
First, get input on your team about their biggest struggles. Were they overworked? Did they work on projects that didn’t suit their skills? Were clients unnecessarily difficult? Did the process or workflow fail somewhere?
Next, work with them to create a plan to address their issues. If there was a flaw in your process, find ways to correct it. If they didn’t enjoy their projects, find ways to shift responsibilities.
You don’t have to fix every issue. Just focus on the ones that create the greatest impact. Do the same after the next tax season. Eventually you’ll address all of your issues.
Ask Your Clients for Feedback
Surveying your clients for feedback is a simple and impactful way to learn how you can improve your service (and thus your client retention). It also makes your clients feel valued by your organization, which ultimately boosts their loyalty (and hopefully their willingness to refer you to their friends).
There are two ways to go about this: You could send an anonymous survey to your entire client list or schedule some phone interviews with clients who will provide the best feedback. In either case, you may have to offer a small incentive to get their participation.
The questions you ask should be simple and actionable. Don’t burden your clients with complexity or questions that don’t help you make smart decisions. Here are a few questions to ask:
- What did you like and dislike about our service?
- Do you feel like we solved all of your issues this season?
- Did you have enough time to provide us with documents?
- Was our device helpful and useful?
- What could we have done better for you?
Make sure you collect feedback from your clients immediately after tax season ends so that their impression of your service is fresh in their minds.
Pitch Other Services
You just helped your clients get through a difficult portion of the year. You are their problem solver. Now is the perfect opportunity to pitch them on advisory and other financial services like bookkeeping and payroll.
Start by reaching out to the clients who seemed disorganized during tax season. Focus on the ones who lacked the proper paperwork or couldn’t produce the right numbers. Explain how you can abolish those issues by helping with their day-to-day business operations throughout the rest of the year. Show them how you can make their lives easier, help them stay compliant, and even save money.
Review Your Technology Stack
The end of tax season is a good time to evaluate your technology stack. Does it meet your needs? Does it have any shortcomings? Does it require tedious workarounds?
If you’re like a lot of accounting firms, your tech stack is a cobbled-together mess of tools that were never designed to work together. You may even use awkward third-party apps just to integrate two tools together. It can get quite messy!
Now is the time to start investigating alternatives. You won’t find the perfect tool that solves all of your problems, but look for solutions that require fewer tools. The ones you use should link together seamlessly without workarounds. The goal is to implement your new tools long before the next tax season so you know how to use them effectively.
We designed ImagineTime to be the only practice management solution an account firm needs. It includes features that manage your entire business, like due date tracking, time and billing, CRM, reporting and analytics, secure file sharing, electronic signature, and a client portal.
Prepare a Schedule for Next Season
Preparation is an important way to avoid burnout, so there’s no harm in starting to think about the next tax season. Now is a good time to prepare a schedule for next year. Here are some dates you’ll need to plan for:
- When you want to receive all documents.
- The date you’ll start preparing tax filings.
- The date when you’ll start adding surcharges for late submissions.
- The date you’ll automatically file an extension for your clients.
Once you know those dates, you can set up some automatic reminders for your clients. Your practice management solution may have a system for this already. If not, there are countless email marketing tools that will help.
For each important date, schedule a series of reminder emails. Each series should let the client know what you need and by when. Subsequent emails in the series should follow up if they haven’t met your requests.
It’s important to schedule these emails as early as possible. When the busy season comes, you won’t have time for this type of proactive work. Instead, you’ll end up running around, frantically chasing clients for documents they could have sent months ago.
Tax season may be over, but that doesn’t mean your work is done. If you follow the advice we outlined above (and genuinely make the changes), you’ll create a smarter and more efficient accounting firm that’s ready for the next tax season.
Want a quick efficiency boost? Use ImagineTime, an all-in-one practice management system that helps you survive – and thrive – during tax season. Book a demo now.