The year is about to end, and the next tax season is just around the corner. Businesses and individuals will have to find an accountant or CPA to help them file their taxes.
With tax season quickly approaching, there will be a long line of clients wanting your help and expertise, and you may not be prepared to handle so many clients at once. Even if you use modern accounting software programs that automate much of your calculations and form-filling, you will remain busy during the tax season with client calls, appointments, concerns and paperwork.
Before you get truly occupied, here are 5 important things you need to do before the tax season arrives, so that you are all set to serve your customers better in a stress-free atmosphere.
1) catch up with past clients, market to potential clients
Contact your past clients well in advance, so that they have ample time to send in their tax information, fill out necessary forms, and make an appointment to visit your office if required. Don't forget to also market your services to potential new clients by keeping the information on your website updated, reaching out to referrals from past clients, attending networking events, sending out clients email newsletters, posting on social media, and hopefully even writing tax tips and reminders on your blog before the tax season begins. Remember, selling your accounting and CPA services isn't just about solving their problems. It's all about understanding the people and businesses and providing them a solution.
2) Reorganize Your office and upgrade your tools
A few months before the tax season is the best time to start cleaning up your office. Most CPAs ignore housekeeping and the carpets begin to tell a sorry tale by the end of the year. Start with reorganizing your office’s forgotten nooks and corners. In addition, you might also want to make sure that all your computers and software tools are in top order. Consider getting all your computers and printers serviced and cleaned. In addition, make sure that your accounting and CRM software programs are tested, and updated as well. Finally, organize all your physical and digital files and folders in order of importance. Replace furniture, computer hardware, and software if it is necessary.
3) Fulfill CPE Credit Requirements
Every three years CPA professionals must complete 120 hours of continuing professional education (CPE). CPAs can fulfill this requirement by attending a college or university, specialized programs, and certain online correspondence courses. Every state has separate CPE requirements including the license renewal date, CPE reporting period, general requirements, ethics requirements, regulatory review requirements, and even subject area requirements (i.e. fraud, government auditing, technical, preparation engagement). CPAs shouldn't put off this requirement, or else they'll spend at least a few weeks trying to cram in the courses before the reporting period. Work ahead on your CPE credit requirements and the down time before tax season is a highly recommended time to do that.
4) Get ample rest and physical activity
The tax season is the single-most stressful period for every CPA, for obvious reasons. Most accountants tend to have a quiet year, until the few months preceding April. Telephones do not stop ringing, and the forms to file keep adding up. With each passing day, accountants tend to get more stressed and lose the quality of their sleep. All this can affect physical health and work performance. Make sure that you get enough rest and take breaks in between. Also, try to squeeze in a short vacation just before it starts to get busy so that you return to the tax season all rejuvenated and fresh. Workout regularly or at least squeeze in some walking or running if you can’t make it to the gym.
5) hire an accounting answering service
No matter how prepared you are for the tax season, you can never really handle all the calls well when you're having meetings, doing filings, and staying on top of everyone's returns and deadlines. Your own staff will be busy filing returns, and if you have a front desk receptionist, they simply may not be able to keep up with the constantly ringing phone. An accountant answering service such as Abby Connect solves all your problems during the tax season. They will also answer calls after business hours too so that you never miss a client. By providing excellent customer service during the busy tax season, you will enhance client satisfaction. This directly increases your business reputation and goals such as customer retention.
Be Prepared In Order To Avoid Stress
There are a lot of things to do before the tax season kicks in. Firstly, begin with catching up with your clients and remind them to send their account statements, and market your services to potential clients. Second, make sure that you complete all the Continuing Professional Education (CPE) requirements.
Tax season is the time when the greatest number of clients will visit your office, and that’s why it’s important to clean up and reorganize your office. Use this opportunity to upgrade your furniture, computer peripherals, and software tools. Identify and resolve problems in your business process, so that everything runs smoothly when your clients come in. Most importantly, do not forget to get some exercise and a short vacation if need be, so that you are physically prepared for the strenuous weeks during the tax season.
Lastly, make sure that you hire an accountant answering service so that none of your calls get ignored both during and after business hours.