It’s time

I had a fantastic Christmas with extended family in the Seattle area, and I hope that you’ve had a wonderful holiday season with your family as well.

With the official start of the 2013 tax return filing season now set by the IRS, we have a target to work towards. This means we have just over a month to get ready.

Since I don’t usually participate in tax season, I don’t have a full checklist for preparing for tax season, but I should — and so should you. You want to make sure that your seasonal staff is up to speed on the latest tax laws, that your tax software is up to date, and that your office is set up to handle client flow efficiently and as stress free as possible.

On the marketing front, there are a variety of things that you should have already started doing, and if you haven’t, then it’s time to do them.

It’s time to send letters to EVERY past client you’ve ever prepared a return for, and you want them back as a customer, even if it’s been a number of years since they came in.

It’s time to meet with your local ValPak, MoneyMailer, or similar service sales rep to get your order into the February, March, and April mailings.

It’s time to commit to your geographical Every Door Direct Mail (EDDM) mailing sequences to the neighborhoods you want to target market to.

It’s time to set up your seasonal email autoresponders.

It’s time to make sure your online marketplace listings are up to date on all the relevant web sites, such as Yelp, Angie’s List, Merchant Circle, Hot Frog, Google Places, etc.

It’s time to make sure your social media posting strategy is in place and automated for the entire tax season, including posting to Twitter and Facebook.

It’s time to make sure you’re top posting your Craigslist ad every three days in the financial services, legal services, and small biz ads section of your local Craigslist (use different ads, repost one per day so one is always at the top).

It’s time to remind your networking groups, Chamber of Commerce colleagues, and professional financial colleagues that it’s tax season and that you appreciate their professional referrals.

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It’s time for all of these things, and more. If tax season is a significant piece of your annual revenue, then you cannot slack on any of these activities — they are all important to the success of your tax season. None of the items I listed above are complicated or significantly time consuming on their own, but the list looks daunting when you look at it as a whole.

As with all things, take it one step at a time. Go through all your software, marketing, staffing, work flow, and office requirements to make sure you’re ready for January 31st. Be sure to invite feedback from returning seasonal staffers to improve upon procedures from last year.

It’s definitely time to get on the ball with regards to tax season. You’ve done this before, but this year I challenge you to do it better and bigger. Improve the quality of your customer service, while also increasing your average hourly rate and increasing volume. Don’t lose sight of the importance of marketing throughout tax season if your objective is to be growing.

It’s time to rock and roll!