CPA Mike Ramos sees government policies moving the economy in a new direction. This will affect your clients’ business — and their business needs. Your opportunity is to provide a service to address those changing needs. Four promising areas to consider: 1. Tax planning and compliance: The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) — dubbed the stimulus package — brought major changes to the tax code. So does the Obama administration’s budget. The tax code overhaul offers significant opportunities in tax planning and compliance. 2. Services for state and local governments: Firms skilled in audits of state and local governments and the requirements of OMB Circular A-133 are well positioned to expand their practice. The ARRA’s reporting requirements go far [...]
Without a solid system for networking, what good are good connections? How can you gain the trust of your contacts so they’ll start connecting you to all the people in their network? The greatest networkers have a simple, practical system for making a lasting impression and building a strong foundation for future professional success. Start off strong: Give new contacts a firm handshake and look them in the eye. An upbeat attitude and a sincere eagerness to meet them will be reciprocated. Listen more than talk: You can’t really start to build a relationship until you’re locked into the other person’s hot buttons and listening to what makes him tick. Ask questions to build rapport and understanding: Once you hear [...]
Make checking a client’s pulse part of your everyday habit. by Rick Telberg Busy season may be hectic and the hours may be long, but if you’re not making time to get to know your clients better, then you’re missing an opportunity that may not come again for another year. By then, a competitor may have beaten you to the punch. Many accountants, auditors and tax professionals don’t realize how much busy season is, in fact, “opportunity season.” You have your clients’ undivided attention. They should have yours. Beyond the routine tax preparation and tax planning, beyond the reconciliations and check marking, you need to be using client face-time to explore their greater needs and goals and your firm’s performance [...]
Census data shows 25% increase in home-based entrepreneurs. The number of people who worked at home increased by nearly 2 million, from about 9.5 million in 1999 to about 11.3 million in 2005, according to new data released by the U.S. Census Bureau. Nearly half of these home workers had college degrees and nearly half of them earned $75,000 a year or more.
Start with LinkedIn, advises Larry Bodine. Law firms are cutting back on advertising and client feedback programs, according to a new survey by the LMA. Instead their highest law firm marketing priorities are proposals, business development coaching and training, and client seminars and CLE. But Bodine reports more law firms are ramping up their Web 2.0 presence. “LinkedIn is very popular with law firms — more than 78% reported using LinkedIn, followed by Webinars at 53%, Twitter at 37% and Facebook at 35%,” according to Bodine.
How to avoid destroying your firm’s future by using obsolete techniques. by Bruce W. Marcus The Marcus Letter There is a wonderful old Russian folk tale about the family in a sled being chased by ferocious wolves. To slow down the wolves, thinking to protect the remaining family members, they threw children overboard. That story comes to mind as we watch the law and accounting firms, chased by the wolves of a depressing economy, decimate their firms by furloughing or firing staff, deferring new hires, cutting salaries, and otherwise taking draconian measures to slash costs and, presumably, to save firms. In too many cases, these actions are precipitous and short sighted, with no view of the future. There is a [...]
Make busy season into business development season. “Firms need to look at the busy season as a stepping stone for 2010, while your clients are focused on taxes and accounting more than any other time,” according to John Ezell’s ProHorizons. Here’s why you need a business development strategy in busy season: Accounting draws attention: The tax season is the time where you get the opportunity to meet your clients in person. Accounting is an important issue that, generally, captures an audience. Competitive advantage: Firms that make an effort at marketing during the busy season gain a competitive advantage over other firms who are not in the marketplace. Strengthened relationships: It is an opportunity to further strengthen relationships with existing clients. [...]
Two in three firms plan to boost biz-dev efforts. What’s working in accounting marketing today? Join the survey; get the answers. by Rick Telberg Both because of the business downturn and despite it, accounting firms are largely resisting the impulse to cut marketing spending and business development activities. And a significant number are even boosting sales efforts. Early results from a CPA Trendlines survey for the AICPA show that roughly a third of firms have increased their marketing efforts amidst the recession, a third have reduced their activities and the other third report no change. Going forward, however, most firms will be hitting the gas pedal to accelerate practice development activities. Indeed, early responses to the survey suggest 70 percent [...]
Whatâ€™s working today in CPA firm growth strategies? Join the survey; get the answers. by Rick Telberg The recession may or may not be officially ending, but savvy CPAs and accounting firms aren’t planning for a return to “the good old days.” Instead, smart accountants are retooling their skills and overhauling their offices for the next new economy. At General Electric, for instance, Jeff Immelt, the CEO who was once GE’s CFO and an accounting standards wonk, is calling it “the reset economy.” Some, like Intuit CEO Brad Smith, prefer to call it the “new normal.” Whatever you call it, you can’t just cut costs, lay off people and expect a routine “post-recession” comeback. This new economic picture may be [...]
CPAs rally around a few tried-and-true business-getting strategies. By Rick Telberg/At Large There are three kinds of marketing: lousy, tried and true, and new. Just because there’s a lot of overlap doesn’t mean I’m wrong. Some marketing doesn’t work or doesn’t work well. Then there’s the marketing techniques that have always been around, some of which work well and some of which yield an unsatisfying bang-to-buck ratio. And there’s the new stuff, the new strategies that don’t yet qualify as tried and true. Among these strategies we’re bound to find ideas both good and bad. But as we grapple with a faltering economy, the pool of clients is going to shrink a bit, and those businesses that survive are going [...]
Practical steps to move you beyond the crisis. PracticeÂ consultant Tracy Crevar Warren says in the latest CPA Insider the key components for your firm’s stimulus plan should include: Strengthened client service More contact Do a better job of being a “trusted advisor” Provide additional counsel/services to meet needs resulting from economic downturn Reduce commodity threat More educational offerings – seminars, Webcasts, podcasts “Crisis center” resources and Web sites Expanded/reallocated service offerings Outsourcing Turnaround Bankruptcy Debt restructuring Forensic accounting Cash management & budgeting Staffing Retaining new talent, while others are eliminating it and/or not filling empty positions Continued/enhanced niche development Better analysis and litmus tests for spending This includes marketing Creative, less-expensive alternatives for traditional marketingÂ tool Electronic versus paper Webinars [...]
Financial crash means tax season opportunities for savvy CPAs. How’s YOUR busy season so far? Join the survey, compare results with your peers. By Rick Telberg Lay-offs. Cost-cutting. The stock market crash. Global credit freeze. Ruined retirements…. And then there’s tax season. There’s no better time to be working with clients to sort out their worries and plan new strategies. If you’re just working to get through the busy period, or just hunkering down for the recession, you’ll be behind the curve when conditions change for the better. Savvy CPAs are looking beyond tax season to create a new future for themselves in the new post-meltdown economy. “Right now, more than ever, clients need to know that you are there [...]
Learn what CPAs are doing online: Join the survey; get the answers. By Rick Telberg While many CPAs are still getting used to the idea of blogs and instant messaging, many others are rushing to deploy the very newest, bleeding-edge technologies for operational productivity and client service. CPAs and CPA firms are increasingly turning up in such venues as LinkedIn, Facebook, MySpace, and Plaxo. More and more firms are blogging, podcasting and even YouTube-ing for fresh recruits and for new clients. Individual professionals are expanding their career-management and client-referral networks at leaps and bounds. And now we’re seeing a rush to Twitter, the “micro-blogging” platform. But what is social media? How do you use it? And why should CPAs care? [...]
What do CPAs do online? Click here to join the survey; get the answers. CPAs surf, shop, and email. They’re on Facebook, LinkedIn, MySpace, Plaxo, and Second Life. And, yes, they Twitter. In this survey, CPAs will see how colleagues and competitors use online social networking tools to build business, manage careers and ease operations. What’s your favorite place to “hang out” online? Tell us here in comments. And then… Click here to join the survey; get the answers.
Asking clients for feedback during these uncertain economic times can help to maintain strong, trust-based relationships with clients. “Using a well-structured feedback tool to understand what clients need in a relationship with their advisors helps the advisor to do two things,” says industry expert Julie Littlechild, president of Advisor Impact Inc. “It can help identify opportunities to add value to the client relationship, as well as build stronger referral relationships with centers of influence, such as accountants and lawyers.” Littlechild identifies tactics that can be used to leverage client feedback in two ways – reinforcing existing relationships and attracting new strategic partners. Three Tips to Reinforce Existing Relationships:Â Â Â Â
Amid the stock market crash and a deepening recession, clients need the faith and comfort that only a CPA skilled in personal financial planing can bring. In this brief interview, Mark W. McGorry, JD, CFP (plus CPC, CLU, and AEP), managing director at Wealth Partners LLC, an investment services provider for CPA firms, talks about what clients need today and the outlook for PFP services in CPA firms. Short-term, what should CPAs be doing in this economic environment to best help their PFP clients? There is no question that the CPA is still the most trusted advisor, short of any local religious leader that a client may have.
How to elect a president — or get a client. by Bruce W. Marcus If, as a marketer, you’ve ever been involved in a political campaign, then you know that a political campaign is simply another form of marketing. An analysis of the first Clinton campaign for the presidency, with James Carville’s core message of “It’s the economy, stupid,” made that point very clearly. It was a classic case of positioning. But even that battle was merely a prelude to the campaign that elected Barack Obama, which was, as well, an inspiring use of positioning. The campaign’s message, based on a carefully devised position, was supported by a number of highly focused elements. Itâ€™s in four areas that the successful [...]