Big Mistakes Tax Pros Make – Answering your own phone

The phone rings in your office. Who answers it? If the answer is you, you really should stop. Why? Well, there are multiple reasons.

1) It takes time to answer the phone

2) The person on the other end is a prospect kicking the tires, thereby wasting your time and asking you a bunch of freebie questions

3) The person on the other end is a client with the “got a minute” question, with the call being completed 45 minutes later (of which you probably don’t bill them for the time)

4) The annoying person on the phone is a sales guy you have been trying to ignore

5) It is a robocall or some telemarketer

These are all time wasters. Your time is very valuable. If you don’t guard your time, who else it going to guard it for you. Remember, time is the one thing that when it is spent, you don’t get it back!

How much would you say an hour of your time is worth? For most of you, it could range from $50/hr to $300+/hr.

So, let’s do the math. My office phone rang 4 times today and 6 times yesterday. Three were existing clients (one had a scheduled appointment), two were prospects, two were robocalls, one was a salesperson I have been ignoring, one was a telemarketer, and one was a networking associate call for a scheduled appointment. The two calls that I took were an hour in total. If I were to have answered all 10 calls, that probably would have been about 2-3 hours worth of my time. One hour was the scheduled appointments. The other 8 calls would have wasted at least 1+ hour of my time, maybe more. I routinely earn about $250/hr (or more), although, please note I do not bill by the hour.

That means that I would not get to bill that $250 for the wasted hour. Now this will go into another mistake, but couldn’t I have paid someone $10-20/hour to answer the phone, screen these calls and limit my time on the phone?

The answer is YES!

I do have staff that answer the phone. I only ever answer the phone if I am actually expecting a call. I generally don’t even answer the phone if I were the only person in the office. It goes to voicemail. If they don’t leave a message, then it wasn’t important.

But what about the person who wants to hear a live person. Yes, it is better to have someone else answer the phone, if you can, but NOT YOU!

I hope you get my point and take this to heart. Once I started doing this, among many other things, I became more productive in my tax practice. I hope you will do so as well.

Make it a great day!

Dan Henn, CPA, CTR™, CTC
Managing Member
Tax Pro Academy, LLC