Going through my 21st year in the tax industry was quite an exciting time. In addition to my typical output, I implemented new technologies that put a heavy emphasis on growing my tax practice, while continuing to work remotely with clients.
My focus the last five years has been to meet with fewer clients in person, which allows me to be more efficient and profitable. Although I like my clients, especially those who have been with me for all 21 years, the reality is that time is money in our business, and spending time chatting with my clients in person doesn’t generate money.
Therefore, it has been my long-term goal to put technologies into effect that enable efficiency, while still making my clients feel comfortable that they are not only getting the best service possible, but also working with a reputable and knowledgeable professional. I always let my clients know that I take every measure necessary to safeguard their data, particularly since we work remotely and there is no in-person interaction.
I’ve been very fortunate to have a technology partner that has recommended and implemented new technologies that have allowed me to reach my goals in being efficient and mobile, while safeguarding client data. Resolution 21 has done a great job in creating a new website with a secure online portal, allowing my clients to safely upload all their tax documents remotely and providing good marketing with the new website. With the new technology and online marketing, I was able to meet less than 1 percent of my clients in person.
Although tax season ended on a high note, it did not start off with a bang. I experienced some challenges between new computer systems with Windows 10 and software I use for my firm. Kinks between Windows 10 and QuickBooks 2016 had to be resolved, which took about six days. As you can imagine, six days during tax season feels like an eternity when you are trying to get dozens of returns prepared each day.
The one improvement that will be on the agenda for next tax season is to have all computer systems and software fully tested, with any issues fixed prior to the start of next year’s tax season. This has kind of been a transition year, but all in all, it turned out to be a good year. I picked up new clients from online marketing, increased the number of tax returns filed by 32 percent and received many great reviews from new clients who are “happy” clients. One client, in particular, said she was very hesitant to work with a tax professional remotely, especially with all the identity theft and fraud happening in Atlanta, but she was very pleased and found her tax guy for life!
I truly believe that the tax industry is quickly changing with all the technologies that are constantly coming into the marketplace. Now is a great opportunity for those who are tech friendly and savvy to capitalize and grow their business at higher profit margins. Implementing the following is on my list for the off season, which I hope will lead to an even better year in 2017:
- Better technologies, including secure portals.
- Remote access for client files.
- Secure and remote login to my network.
- A secure back-end system, allowing corporate clients to enter and upload their payroll remotely.
- A back-end bookkeeping system that will be offered to our clients.
- New enhancements to the website.
The goal is to be a great one-stop shop not just for individual tax clients, but more importantly – and more profitably – for business clients, where I work on their year-round accounting, payroll and consulting services.
Using the latest and greatest technologies to be more productive is one of my biggest goals moving into next tax season. We shall see what next year will bring. I can say that this has been an eventful and productive year, and although a bit of a bumpy road at times, I was able to finish in the home stretch with a big bang.