Connecting With Your Clients

You will often hear me discuss the concept of making sure that you proactively do things to ensure that you keep the clients that you already have. After all, getting a new client is roughly 10 times more expensive than keeping an existing one.

One of the simplest ways to ensure that your existing clients stick is through good ol’ fashioned communication. If your clients here from you regularly, not just at tax time or when you update their Quickbooks, then you forge a stronger relationship over time with them.

Maintaining regular communication with your clients really isn’t that difficult, nor does it need to be expensive, especially these days with “social media” being all the rage (just don’t get caught up in all the hype — you’re not going to get millions of new clients from just using social media).

Here are some ideas to stay engaged with your clients (and prospective clients):

1. Encourage them to follow you on Twitter and “like” your Facebook page.

2. Mail all clients a monthly newsletter.

3. Create an email newsletter to send.

4. Invite clients to monthly or quarterly educational seminars to cover financial topics. Bring in outside experts, such as financial planners, attorneys, or insurance agents as necessary to cover appropriate topics.

What are some things you are already doing to stay in touch with clients? Leave a comment below to share with other readers so that everybody can benefit from shared knowledge.… Continue reading

Conducting Research Before Hiring a Tax Resolution Firm

When it comes to something as important as resolving your tax liabilities, it is important to conduct research on the tax resolution firm(s) you are considering before agreeing to purchase their services.

What sort of things should somebody do as part of conducting their “due diligence”?

First of all, visit the Better Business Bureau at www.bbb.com and look for any complaints or outstanding issues that they have with clients.

Second, you may actually want to turn to an unlikely source for information on certain companies: Your IRS Revenue Officer. Revenue Officers will not provide an unbiased opinion, of course, and many of them will even tell you not to secure representation (which is a violation of IRS policies for them to say, but they still do it). However, your RO has probably worked with most of the large, national tax resolution firms and can give you their personal opinion on the firm if you ask.

Third, before signing a contract for taxpayer representation, be sure to confirm that the firm that will provide your representation will assign your case to a licensed representative. You should be guaranteed that your representative is a licensed attorney, licensed Certified Public Accountant, or a licensed Enrolled Agent, before you sign any contract. The IRS will not allow non-licensed representatives to negotiate for a taxpayer, but you would be surprised at how often large firms have unlicensed assistants doing the actual IRS negotiation.

Fourth, be sure to ask if the individual selling you the tax resolution service if they have ever been involved in actual IRS or state tax negotiations. Many times you will get a delayed answer because that answer is “no.” Be weary of salespersons that will base how they can help you from a sales script. Any case-experienced salesperson should be able to walk you through the case proceedings from start to finish.

Understand that hiring a representative to negotiate on your behalf is not a guarantee that your case will be resolved. You will need to work closely with your representative to ensure that your best
interests are always held in high regard. Although your representative should do nearly all of the interaction with the taxing authorities, your participation with your representative is vital to the resolution process.

You will want to confirm that the fee you are paying for the service you are purchasing is a flat fee. If you cannot get this guarantee in … Continue reading

Filling your tax season appointment calendar

Tax season is right around the corner, which means that right now is the time to be doing two things to ensure you have a great tax season:

1. Get in touch with all your past clients to schedule their appointments for 2012.

2. Advertise to get new clients in.

Simple postcards or letters to your past clients should be going out now to remind them to schedule an appointment to get their 2011 tax return prepared.

For getting new clients, here are some suggestions for where to advertise:

1. Your local MoneyMailer or ValPak, which is a thick envelope of coupons delivered to houses in most cities.

2. Local special interest newspapers with an offer targeting that interest group. Examples from my local area include weekly Spanish language and senior citizen newspapers, a monthly outdoor/sports enthusiast magazine, a weekly business newspaper, and a weekly printed newsletter targeted to farmers and ranchers.

3. Send direct mail offers, either postcards or letters, to the residential postal delivery areas closest to your location.

4. Put up flyers with detachable coupons or phone number at supermarkets, flea markets, parks, malls, and anywhere else with free public flyer boards (I’ve seen entire tax practices built from this simplest of all marketing methods).

5. Put up small signs along roads and major intersections. Check with your local authorities to determine if this is legal and if you need a permit.

6. Deliver flyers or door hangars door-to-door in your target residential neighborhoods. Again, check local laws and permit requirements for this.

Any ones of the above 6 methods can fill up and entire tax season for a solo practitioner or small tax office. Used in combination, the results can be simply astonishing. On top of that, most of these methods are not all that expensive, and some are even free.

If you haven’t already, you should get your hands on time-tested tax firm marketing ads, flyers, and mailers to assist in your marketing efforts.

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