The Importance Of Using Systems In Your Practice

When I was in the Navy, I operated nuclear power plant equipment on board the largest, most complex warships ever constructed: Nimitz class aircraft carriers. The equipment that I was entrusted with on a daily basis had price tags in the hundreds of millions of dollars. In addition, our equipment simply couldn’t be down: An entire crew of nearly 5,000 other people relied on those of us down in the engineering spaces to provide them with water, power, propulsion, and steam (required to operate the catapults that launched aircraft off the flight deck).

The most incredible part of all this? All this machinery was primarily left in the hands of people like me that were barely out of high school, and often with little or no supervision from senior personnel.

How on Earth do a bunch of kids become entrusted with such a task, and how do they avoid screwing it up every day?

The answer is very simple, actually.

First of all, all nuclear operators spend a year in school, learning their trade and nuclear theory. It’s considered one of the most rigorous academic programs in the world, and at the time I went through, there was a fail out rate of over 50%. So, by the end of this training, we knew a ton of theory regarding how everything in a large nuclear plant interacted and operated.

Second, with that theoretical background in place, nuclear operators are introduced to the most important concept in all of nuclear power. In fact, this concept exists in just about all industrial facilities, including chemical factories, oil refineries, and manufacturing plant assembly lines, just to name a few. What is this magical concept?

Simply put, it’s this: Verbatim compliance with written procedures.

See, everything…and I do mean *everything*, in a nuclear power plant has a written, step-by-step procedure for getting anything done. No valve is turned, button is pushed, maintenance performed, without referencing the proper checklist.

This concept is so important to the safe operation of a nuclear power plant that after that year of classroom training, Navy nukes are sent to a training ship for 6 months where they learn and become qualified to operate the equipment on board using the procedures. Basically, it’s 6 months of learning how to follow checklists in books. Then, and only then, is that sailor sent to the fleet to operate a seafaring vessel.

What does this have to with … Continue reading

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