Platt’s Perspective: Dear Tax Preparer

Platt’s Perspective: Dear Tax Preparer

Dear Tax Preparer:

Let me be honest with you. I don’t look forward to receiving your tax organizer at this time of year. But I will also come clean with you – it’s probably the one communication that I get from you each year that I am sure to review. Given that you have my captive attention, let me give you some advice so I can feel like you truly have my best interests at heart.

So as you are communicating with me this season, consider these ideas that I just might find appealing:

  1. Tell me what I can purge. Include a page that describes your recommended document retention policy. How much of my mountain of paperwork can I shred?
  2. Tell me what I should do in the next 60 days to improve my financial position. I can probably find a beginning-of-the-year tax and financial checklist on the internet, but it would be much easier and more helpful if you were to tell me what I should do in the next few months to get my financial house in order.
  3. Let me choose my fee. That’s right, you heard me. I know two things about tax season: I have one deadline – April 15 –  and I know that you’re a professional and that you’ll get everything done by that date, regardless of my tardiness. So, if your average fee is $100/hour, why not give me different deadlines with different fees? For example, if I get my organizer back to you by February 15, I pay $80/hour. If I get it back by March 15, I pay $100/hour. If I drag my feet and get it to you after March 15, charge me $150/hour.
  4. Tell me when I should meet with you. My dentist sends me a postcard every six months to remind me that it’s time to meet with him. I respect you enough as a professional to allow you to dictate my schedule – just a bit – and tell me when I should schedule a call for a “tax checkup.”
  5. Tease me with your talents. Your firm does my taxes, but you probably do a lot of other things that can help me as a business person. Show me what you have – and tell me how it can help me. And go ahead, be creative to catch my attention. Attach a dollar bill to your promotional information and tell me “there’s plenty more where that came from,” or something similar.
  6. Make it easy for me to buy more from you. I know that you work in a very formal profession that requires engagement letters, consultations and scope-of-service agreements. But if you’ve got a simple service – like a $200 mid-year tax review so I can talk with you for an hour to make sure I’m on track – add a checkbox on the organizer so I can easily say “yes” to your offerings. Follow up with me to set the appointment and consider offering me a slight discount if I commit to the meeting when I return the organizer.
  7. Show me that you are human. I like doing business with people I know. Send me a link to an article that shows your staff involved in some community activity. Send me a photo of the tax service team along with a bio on each person so I can see the human side of your firm. Don’t worry – I’ve got enough “love-thy-neighbor” goodwill left over from the holidays to warmly embrace your “softer” side.

Please take these ideas in the spirit in which they are given – I want you to be successful because I like to work with successful people. I know that sending out the organizer is seen as a logistical and administrative task in your firm, but don’t overlook the marketing and client relationship-building opportunity it presents.

Good luck, and thanks for listening!

Sincerely,

Your average tax client.

Mike Platt

Mike Platt, Principal, INSIDE Public Accounting

 

 

If you have feedback for me, Mike Platt, contact me at editor@plattgroupllc.com.