Wow, we’ve hit the double digits!
You’ll notice that today’s challenges will take a bit more time than most of the previous ones. We’re starting to get down into some nitty-gritty stuff, so it will require more time to complete.
Perform basic local keyword research.
Estimated time: 30 minutes
Head on over to Google and type in “tax preparation [your city]” or “accountant [your city]” or something along those lines. Then, scroll to the very bottom of the page.
What you’ll see is a list of other suggested search terms. Copy and paste all of those search phrases into a spreadsheet.
Click on each of the suggested search phrases just to see the results. Make note of how much competition there is in your area for each search term, and how many overall results there are.
Congratulations, you just completed the most basic type of keyword research that exists.
This data helps you make future decisions regarding what to title blog posts, name your social media channels, etc.
There are more sophisticated means of doing this, including software tools that help give you powerful insights into keywords. But this right is often the entire extent of what I’ll do when putting together a new online marketing campaign or lead generation website.
Acquire phone numbers of old competitors.
Estimated time: 30-90 minutes
This one is going to sound a bit sneaky. Because it is.
Businesses go under all the time. It’s a fact of life in our free market economy. This includes both large and small tax and accounting firms. People also retire, move, or pass away, closing businesses in the process.
Do you have a local competitor that recently closed up shop? Not sure?
Go back to your Google searches from up above and check in on the businesses listed. Are they still around?
Also check Yelp, YellowPages.com, SuperPages.com, and the physical yellow pages for your area. Check all the tax and accounting listings. Are any of them out of business?
If so, call your telephone company and tell them you want to rent a vanity phone number that will forward to your regular number. Then, ask for the phone numbers of your out of business former competitors. All of them.
This will cost you some money to rent those numbers, but it’s not a lot, and worth every dime. Some may have already been snapped up, or not released yet. If they’re not released yet, ask when they will be, and call back then.
You’ll now be getting phone calls from these old numbers. Old advertising, phone book listings, Internet listings, etc. will carry these old numbers for a long time, sometimes years. Plus, old clients that never got the memo will be calling to schedule appointments, especially in the next few months.
Capture these inquiries, explain that the prior business closed up shop, but that you’re there to assist with their tax and accounting needs.
Create a written payment policy for your firm and implement it immediately.
Estimated time: 10 minutes
Since I come from the tax debtor representation side of our profession, I probably have a bit more jaded perspective on the matter of getting paid than many readers might. But even with that, I think it’s important for all tax and accounting offices to have strictly defined payment guidelines for all services.
My suggested payment guidelines for tax resolution take up an entire page of my tax resolution checklist manual, but most firms don’t need guidelines that detailed.
At a minimum, make sure that you have signage and engagement letter language that specific what types of payment you accept, including specific credit card brands. Clearly indicate whether you offer discounts for up front payment, or simply require up front payment for all services. If you do monthly billing for your services, make sure that the billing date and amounts are clearly communicated to clients.
Define how and when you’re willing to break up fees for certain services. Have a no-start policy without a certain percentage of fees for a project paid up front. Define the consequences for failure to meet payment arrangements, including stoppage of work, revocation of your 2848, even entire loss of the privilege of being your client (yes, being your client is a privilege, not a right).
Write this out, and make sure you have a staff training session on it if you have employees.
Enforcing this written payment policy will avoid a lot of aggravation down the road.