Our firm has one major business objective during tax season: maximizing efficiency through increasing output and decreasing the time spent to achieve it. If we meet this objective, we are able to provide excellent, cost-effective service to our clients.This is what we live, eat and breathe!
In addition, we have many tax-time metrics that help us reach our objective of improving efficiency. Our master spreadsheet tracks all of these seemingly passive elements of being a tax preparer, converts them to percentages and dollar amounts, compares them to the previous tax season numbers, and tells us whether we’ve been successful in reaching our objectives.
All of this boils down to one thing: time is money. Plain and simple. If you knew what your time was worth by the minute, you’d be shocked at the value lost due to outdated processes and lack of proper tools.
What we measure:
- New clients
- Lost clients
- Possible clients
- Fee changes
- Extensions we might file
- Extensions we will file
- Number of returns we will complete
- Number of returns we might complete
- Number of returns we will likely no longer do
- Hours spent on all returns and average hours per return
- Average hours spent on the tax appointments in the office
- Average hours spent on phone tax appointments
- Average hours spent on video tax appointments
One very important thing to think about is that evaluating your success should not be something you stop to do in the middle of a project or after finishing it. Instead, it should be done continuously. The spreadsheet mentioned above is also the master sheet for managing our tax season workflow. As it is updated with appointments set, documents in, extensions to be completed and extensions already completed, the sheet updates the metrics to give us an ever-evolving progress report. Combined with Acuity Scheduling, our appointment scheduling software’s live reporting page, we know what we’re making in real time and how many hours we’re spending on the actual work. Instant feedback and at-a-glance information help us stay ahead of the game and are the major factors to which we attribute our continued annual growth.
What does all of this mean for our profession? With robotic process automation and artificial intelligence (AI) on the rise, information is fluid and change is constant. If we spend five minutes reviewing data to plan for the future, we’re already five minutes behind. As a result, my best advice is to take a few of your valuable moments to work on your business, not for it. Assign monetary value to everything you do and create or find a real-time tool to help you track your activity every second.
In addition, data is quickly becoming far more important. Collecting it, whether you know how to read it, will allow you to automate many aspects of your business faster that, in turn, will increase efficiency. With enough data and the right tools, reaching your important objectives and growing your business will become a passive activity. It will happen. In doing this, we’ve freed ourselves up to innovate and are learning how to work with AI. What will you do with all those extra valuable minutes?