The Single Best Thing You Can Do This Week To End Tax Season Stress

With the filing deadline just two weeks away, most tax professionals are gasping for air right now, barely able to keep their heads above the mountain of 1040 work that they’re drowning in.

Some practitioners, however, have made a choice not to live that way for the next couple weeks. You can make that choice, too, and all it takes are a couple very simple procedural changes in your business.

At our tax resolution boot camp last September, Chrisa Anderson, CPA shared a brilliant strategy for attenuating the April madness: Just stop taking on new returns. Anybody that doesn’t have their documents in by this week simply goes on extension. Problem solved.

Another Premium member, Dan Henn, CPA, has taken it a step further. Not only does he have a document cutoff, he also imposes a Rush Service fee for any returns that an individual absolutely insists on being completed between now and the filing deadline. And it’s not a small priority service fee, either. In fact, he charges the client an extra 50% of their regular tax prep fee.

So if you are normally scrambling like a crazy person to complete returns for the next two weeks, it’s time to make some policy changes. And this doesn’t need to be a “we’ll do that next year” sort of thing. No. Do it now. Today.

Anybody that calls in today or later… Anybody that sends you an email… They simply get told that they’re going on extension or need to pay a priority service surcharge. It’s as simple as that.

Have a nice, relaxing rest of your filing season!… Continue reading

Marketing: Cheap vs Done For You

One of the more interesting preliminary results coming from the summer survey is that a lot of practitioners indicate that they want marketing solutions to grow their tax firms that don’t cost much money, but also want direct mail and digital marketing done for them.

There’s a serious disconnect there, and I thought it was worth addressing really quick.

You know the old joke…

Fast, good, or cheap. Pick two.

That’s what we’re really talking about here. “Fast” and “cheap” in particular don’t live well together when it comes to marketing, so you must set realistic expectations. If you want it all done for you, it’s not going to be cheap.

For example, if you want to hire me to create a 100% custom, self-contained, turnkey, multi-media, multi-channel tax resolution sales and marketing funnel for your firm, you’re going to pay me between $75,000 and $100,000 to build it all, and it’s going to take 3 to 6 months. On top of that, I won’t even entertain the idea of doing it unless you’re willing to commit no less than $5,000 per month for two solid years in order to implement the system. (Just for the record, I no longer offer this service).

Contrast that with the “poor marketing” model, where you have more time on your hands than money to invest into growing your tax firm.

Under that model, you can, just as an example, invest just $67 into my detailed, step-by-step ebook for Creating Online Tax Client Lead Funnels and start with at least the digital marketing component yourself. It’s going to take you a lot longer. You’re going to spend a lot more time testing different headlines and offers to find what works for your firm and your target clients. You’re going to have periods of frustration. You’re going to end up with lots of questions along the way, and have to spend time seeking answers.


You can get it done within the confines of a tight budget.

I know this might sound a bit discouraging. But I think it’s important for all tax firm partners and owners to run their practices from a solid foundation of reality in order to properly managed limited resources.

Managing limited resources appears to be a topic of interest, so expect to see more of that on the blog going forward.… Continue reading

How To Stop Working For Free

Are you working for free?

Do you ever work for free?

No? Are you sure about that?

Most tax professionals I know do, at various points in time, work for free. Most of the time, they call this free work “good customer service”. But what they don’t understand is that working for free erodes the value that your client perceives from working with you, and can spawn some very unhealthy client behavior.

Let’s take a look at a typical 1040 client. Let’s call her Janet.

Janet calls you out of the blue about 4 times per year to ask that “…one quick question, it should only take two minutes.” Unfortunately, Janet’s single quick questions always turn into 30 minute conversations. Also, the human brain requires time to re-engage to a productive task. So, if you were intently focused on putting together your new marketing campaign, but you chose to accept Janet’s call, then you actually just lost about an hour of productive time.

So that’s four hours per year right there, for one client.

Let’s not forget that Janet is buying a house, and needs you to fax copies of her last two 1040’s to a mortgage broker. And let’s not forget that CP-2000 that showed up in the mail because she forgot to give you that K-1 with $20 of income on it. So we’re now at about six hours of extra time on Janet’s behalf.

Six hours that you provided at no charge because you thought it was “good customer service”.

How many Janet’s do you have in your business?

And here’s the thing about people in general: It’s human nature to take a kilometer when given a centimeter.

(Yes, cliches work in metric, also.)

We all do it. I do it. You do it. Children do it. Poor people do it. Wealthy people do it. Americans, Russians, Chileans, Martians… We all do it, even though it’s mostly subconscious.

Here’s the problem: When you give clients too much rope, it’s YOU they’re hanging with it.

Yes, you need to provide good customer service. But good customer service does NOT equal free work. If you think it does, go try it with your doctor and see how far you get (“Hi, could I speak to Dr. Smith for two minutes, I just have one quick question…”).

I don’t know what your hourly rate is. I use $175 per hour as a nationwide, average billable rate … Continue reading