It’s early January, the air is colder, the days are darker, driving gets a little more hectic, and we all get giddy with the longing for spring and warmer weather. It should be a time of new beginnings, of resolutions and optimism for what lies ahead this year. However, for those in the public accounting profession, we know that early January is just the appetizer to an even more hectic time of year – tax season (also known as busy season).
For as long as anyone can remember, public accountants’ schedules have been more than full between January 1st and April 15th. For those who are tasked with marketing and business development for public accounting and consulting firms, this period should also be a great time to promote the firm, uncover new client needs and cross-sell services to clients which is why it should be called opportunity season instead of busy season.
Having Those Crucial Conversations
It’s for this reason that early January tends to get crazy busy for those tasked with marketing, business development, and client relationships. If you haven’t already, you should be having conversations internally about how to identify and uncover client needs, and have conversations with clients about their current and future situation. Discuss what’s on the horizon:
- Where do your clients want to go with their company?
- Are they looking to retire, sell the business, or pass it on to another generation?
- Are there technology solutions that can make them more efficient and profitable?
- What about financial planning or investment advice?
These are the types of conversations you need to have with your clients if you truly want to serve them. The advantage to doing it during opportunity season is that you are already having conversations with them about tax work or audit scheduling. You already have their attention. This is a great time to really be their trusted advisor that is looking out for their best interest.
Sell The Solution to Their Problem
Now, before you start trying to sell your clients everything but the kitchen sink, it goes without saying that you really shouldn’t be selling at all. If you want to be truly successful you need to be adept at having honest, open, and sometimes difficult conversations with clients and then trying to come up with solutions for their problems. By having these types of conversations while you have the client’s attention you are positioning yourself to provide advice and counsel. Having that type of relationship will reap enormous benefits long after “busy” season ends.
Time to Rethink Busy Season
So, the next time your partners and staff complain about busy season, remind them that it is really an opportunity season to grow the practice and serve their clients. Ultimately, it’s up to them if they want to focus solely on tax compliance or audit scheduling, or if they want to step outside the box a bit and use the time to uncover new opportunities.
The correct choice should be crystal clear by now.