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Posts Tagged ‘tax season’

I once had a younger team member ask me, “What can I do to make sure I have a successful tax season”? Aside from having the technical knowledge needed to do our jobs, the essence of a successful tax season is effective communication, whether internally to our peers or supervisors, or externally to clients. Some clients prefer we only send emails; others need us to spend time on the phone; most effective is to meet in person. Regardless of our clients’ preferred mode of contact, keep in mind the following tips on being an effective communicator. In addition, effective communication with fellow engagement team members will improve the efficiency of the engagement and enhance “world class client service.”

  • First, you have to remember that good communication starts with being a good listener. Always be prepared to patiently listen to your client or teammate and never interrupt them. A simple way to be sure you understand their point or questions is to rephrase it and ask them to confirm that you didn’t misunderstand him or her.
  • Second, try to focus on being self-confident and positive. By projecting the right attitude, your words also become more positive – affirmation and encouragement will help get the best out of people, and clients will get more from the conversation. A good tip in this regard is to smile even while you are speaking on the phone and can’t be seen. This helps project a positive tone.
  • Third, understand who your audience is. When speaking with clients, it generally is not necessary to be technical in nature. Tax clients don’t really care what the code section is that allows the deduction; they only care that they can take advantage of it. Be sure to speak in your clients’ terms.
  • And lastly, you don’t always have to be right – sometimes it is better to “let it go.” There will be times during tax season when conflict with a client or fellow team member will occur. It’s generally best to hear each other out and allow time to cool off before addressing it. Remember that there is normally a compromise that is possible, and you just need to approach the conflict with a cool and rational state of mind. If you do make a mistake or find your previous position on a subject is no longer accurate, your clients and colleagues are likely to be forgiving when you are honest and up front about it.

Always feel free to seek advice from your peers or supervisor if you are not clear on something. Not only will it help you work more productively, it will minimize any potential pitfalls with our clients, particularly during this stressful time of year.

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The biggest and final push is on!

We enter today with just eight days left of tax season.  As I speak with many of our staff members on the front lines, it has been an intense year with many challenges that we have met and overcome.  This last week is always the most stressful as we wrap up clients who brought in information early and then dribbled in K-1’s to us much later; or deal with those clients who enjoy the adrenaline rush of going right to the deadline; or prepare extensions for those business owners whose returns are the most complicated and have the most risk to us.  Ah, the joys of being a CPA!

As we enter the final days, we remember that everyone is under pressure.  It’s important to continue to treat each other professionally, calmly and kindly, as we have done so far this tax season.  We have a great firm with an even greater culture.  While this week is stressful, it will also be rewarding… and on the other side of it is a day off next Wednesday and likely that vacation that’s been planned.

Have a great week!

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I had a younger staff member ask me, “What can I do to make sure I have a successful tax season”?  Aside from having the technical knowledge needed to do our jobs, the essence of a successful tax season is effective communication, whether internally to our peers or supervisors, or externally to clients.   Some clients prefer we only send emails; others need us to spend time on the phone; most effective is to meet in person.  Regardless of our clients’ preferred mode of contact, keep in mind the following tips on being an effective communicator.  In addition, effective communication with fellow engagement team members will improve the efficiency of the engagement and enhance “world class client service.”

  • First, you have to remember that good communication starts with being a good listener.  Always be prepared to patiently listen to your client or teammate and never interrupt them. A simple way to be sure you understand their point or questions is to rephrase it and ask them to confirm that you didn’t misunderstand him or her.
  • Second, try to focus on being self-confident and positive.  By projecting the right attitude, your words also become more positive – affirmation and encouragement will help get the best out of people, and clients will get more from the conversation.  A good tip in this regard is to smile even when you are speaking on the phone and can’t be seen.  This helps project a positive attitude.
  • Third, understand who your audience is.  When speaking with clients, it generally is not necessary to be technical in nature.  Tax clients don’t really care what the code section is that allows the deduction; they only care that they can take advantage of it.  Be sure to speak in your clients’ terms.
  • And lastly, you don’t always have to be right – sometimes it is better to “let it go.”  There will be times during tax season when conflict with a client or fellow team member will occur.  It’s generally best to hear each other out and allow time to cool off before addressing it.  Remember that there is normally a compromise that is possible, and you just need to approach the conflict with a cool and rational state of mind.  If you do make a mistake or find your previous position on a subject is no longer accurate, your clients and colleagues are likely to be forgiving when you are honest and up front about it.

Always feel free to seek advice from your peers or supervisor if you are not clear on something.  Not only will it help you work more productively, it will minimize any potential pitfalls with our clients, particularly during this stressful time of year.

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When you receive the same email forwarded from three different sources, it must be a good one… and it is, so I am sharing this with you today.

We are all so busy (especially during this holiday season), and I applaud you all for your efforts in balancing your workloads with personal endeavors.  But I also know it’s not easy, causing stress and angst when we are under time pressures from home and work, client and partner expectations and deadlines.  As explained in the video found via the link below, the best way to combat the potentially detrimental physical symptoms from stress is to find comfort in human connection.  We are very fortunate at our firm to have a familial atmosphere with an open door policy, encouraging everyone to speak freely and honestly with their colleagues.  We can lean on each other for help and support; can ask for a shoulder to cry on; or even request a few minutes “to vent” and complain a bit, all in the spirit of regaining our perspective and composure.  It’s all good… that’s what being part of the Withum family is all about!  And if we flip how we think about stress, we can actually turn the negative physical effects into positive ones. When you have a few moments, enjoy the video below.  You’ll be a better person for it.

Click here for “How to Make Stress Your Friend.”

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In our world, we call tax season “the busy season” for a reason – everyone our firm is exceptionally busy churning out the tax returns and financial statements for our valuable individual and business clients. However, in our profession as well as others that sell professional services for a living, we must be mindful that busy season can also present additional marketing opportunities that will lead to new business after busy season.

 

A common error that accountants, attorneys, engineers and architects make is that when we are swamped providing great service to our clients, we become fully immersed in the project at hand. Admittedly, this can be profitable as well as intellectually challenging, working 24/7 solving clients problems.  However we tend to give back the profits when we are not prepared for the inevitable down time that will occur after our “busy” period.

 

Here are a few methodologies we try to employ to minimize the effect of the post busy time downturn.

 

  • Value Add. Turn a one-time client into a repeat client. Get contacts signed up for applicable firm newsletters, tax tips, seminars, etc. Provide contacts you’re working with information that will help them beyond busy season.

 

  • Ask for the referral. Once you have helped save our client money or they have complimented us on what a great job we’ve done, let them know we enjoy doing their work. Clients are our best sales people – they already believe in our firm and our abilities.

 

  • Don’t forget referral sources. Call one of your top referral sources to see if they have any new leads. Set up a lunch.  Hey, everyone needs to eat no matter how busy they are! They will be impressed you took the time to call them during busy season. Remember, we are helping them as much as they are helping us.

 

  • Client Service. Nurture your client relationships and let them know how important they are to you. Don’t just assume they know this – tell them. Our relationships with clients need to always be nurtured and never taken for granted. When appropriate, ask them if there are things we could be doing better. Client service and strong relationships with our clients are crucial to the future of our firm.

 

It is so important (and easy) to stay in front of clients and prospects during busy season. With just a little time each week, it is possible to turn busy season into marketing season!

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