How’s YOUR tax season going?

We’ve just under five weeks remaining in the normal tax return filing season. I think that right now is a great time for a mid-season “gut check”.

I know that I am a bit behind where I wanted to be in terms of revenue. OK, more than just a bit: Almost 30% behind, actually. Fortunately, I know why I’m behind. Basically, I got lazy and have not been putting the time and money into lead generation that I know I should be.

After lots of talking about it, I ended up not pulling the trigger on the February and March ValPak mailings. Once I had numbers demonstrating that my local direct mail campaigns to affluent households weren’t bringing in the returns I really wanted to work, I accepted the fact that I’d be doing more routine tax returns at lower price points.

Thus, the ValPak ads, across two specific zones (20,000 households total). My problem was that I couldn’t make up my mind as to whether I wanted to start building client relationships with that particular target market. In retrospect, I should have just plopped down the nearly $3,000 for it and just done it. Lesson: Indecision impairs success.

You would really think I’d know this already, since my inability to make decisions has hampered my progress for years. I already know that making a wrong decision is usually better than not making one at all, because at the least making the decision gives you momentum. You can course correct at any time.

So what am I doing to make up for lost ground? I’ll be marketing to real estate investors with tax liens in the West and Pacific Northwest after the close of tax season to pick up unfiled return work and ongoing assistance with their tax matters. In other words, my inability to make a decision is going to cost me some of the free time I would otherwise be enjoying over the summer. And everybody knows how much I love to travel…

So, there’s my painful admission: Even I have a hard time practicing what I preach.

But I’ve also got a plan to course-correct, and pick up steam.

What about you? What do your metrics look like for the tax season so far? Some stats that are worth taking the time to compile this week:

  • What percentage of last year’s clients have come back or have a future appointment?
  • What is your average revenue per return right now?
  • What is your total revenue so far, and are you on track to hit goal for the season?

I’m curious where everybody stands. If you’re willing to share your numbers, send me an email or leave a comment on the blog: What percentage of your seasonal target revenue have you already earned? I’ll even throw in an ethical bribe: One free month of Premium membership for everybody that is willing to share, either publicly or privately.

If you still have clients from last year (or even prior years) that have not come in, nor scheduled an appointment, it’s time to pick up the phone and call them.

Are your per-return average revenues down? Then it’s time to raise your fees. Yes, it’s perfectly acceptable to raise your fees mid-way through tax season.

What are your plans for capturing a slice of the last minute filer crowd? Even more important, what about the non-filer crowd? Answering this question gives you an automatic extension of tax season, albeit not as hectic. You’re in full swing, why shut down the office come April 16th?

Taking the time to analyze these things NOW, rather than in a month, will put you on a much better footing for the rest of the year. Your business shouldn’t just grind to a halt once mid-April rolls around (unless you want it to, of course). Be proactive now to avoid a slump later.

Comments on How’s YOUR tax season going?

  1. Brian Murphy says:

    Hi Jassen – I’m already a premium member (but I’ll take a free month! 🙂

    I actually am completely buried and falling behind. I moved to a new town, like you did last year. I purchased a mailing list from infoUSA of above $50K income and owned their own house, and mailed about 500 letters, but had a horrible return. I also advertised in the local phone book (waste of money) and the newspaper (waste of money). The biggest thing I did that brought in the majority of new clients was had a real estate type yard sign made up that said “professional tax return preparation” with my phone number, and put it in the corner of my front yard, which happens to be at the busiest intersection of our town and at a stop light. I have doubled my tax work from last year….and am having trouble keeping up. I had one competitor located on the same street down about 4 blocks….but she retired and reffered every one to me! We have tax factory located on the outskirts of town about 2 miles away, but they are expense. I also raised my prices, and am still $50 UNDER the tax factory, so my new clients think I’m a bargin!!

    I have thought about running a special ad the first two weeks of April reminding locals that time is running out. I bought your entire tax resolution program and plan on targeting that crowd, after I rest a few weeks in May. I have had a couple, but contrary to your recommendations, did not get paid up front, and of course have spend a year chasing the deadbeats….. I guess I am just going to have to stop being the nice guy, and get a $500 retainer up front to begin work, or send them to my competitors!

  2. Jassen says:

    Thanks for sharing! I’m glad to hear it’s going well. Definitely doesn’t hurt to be a big fish in a small pond. In fact, that’s exactly where you want to be, so good on ya’!

    As for your last point — I’d suggest a $1000 minimum retainer. Never forget that collections representation has a lot of up front work: Transcript research, financial analysis, levy releases, stay of enforcement, etc. $500 just doesn’t cover all your up front work.

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