My daughter's prayer--and your firm

"The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen, nor touched ... but are felt in the heart."
--Helen Keller

Can we all agree that we didn't start our business so that we could be a slave to it?

But look--that's what often ends up happening for tax & accounting professionals during tax season. So afterwards, you're trying to "unhook the chains", and have a semblance of "normal" after four months of intensity. You're tired, your staff is tired.

So, today--I want to suggest two things:

1) Gratitude.

(and to borrow from Dave Ramsey...)

2) Gazelle-like Intensity.

First, gratitude. I learn a lot from my daughter, Eden Meskerem.

Here was her prayer two nights ago:

God, thank you for Mommy and Daddy. Thank you for the sun and the moon.
[my son, Caleb, interjects: "and the stars."] Thank you for blinds.
And fingers. And pajamas. And the red blanket and the yellow blanket.
And my head. And Baby and Teddy.
Amen.

[PS--If you're at all interested, my wife blogs about our (now-completed) adoption journey, as well as her meditations on life and faith at: http://EveryBitterThingisSweet.wordpress.com]

Wouldn't it change things for you (and your staff) to take some time and consider the GOOD things that came from tax season? Or for you--the simple, excellent things about running your business.

(A staff meeting to evaluate your season should always include some sort of emotional component--your staff is CRAVING that connection, and Gratitude is a great place to start.)

Look, I'm NOT one of those "woo woo" guys who believes that all we need to do is focus on some "secret", and our "destiny will manifest" or some baloney.

No--implementation is the secret. Which leads to my second point...which I'll cover in this week's Strategy Note:

Gazelle-like Intensity. If you want to end the slavery to your biz, you've actually gotta get real focused on the RIGHT things...and it starts with understanding where you are NOW.

Your Intense Focus on Growth (Part 1)

When the dust settles from tax season (right about now), it can be freaking tough to focus on growing your revenue. As I mentioned...you're tired. Family clients aren't streaming through the doors like they used to, and especially if tax return prep is the focus of your firm--further growth seems a distant reality.

Without the urgency of deadlines, marketing and growth strategies are tough to consider now.

But that's EXACTLY what you need to do.

First priority, if you haven't yet done so, is to review your season with your staff. Get THEIR feedback, even if they were just a seasonal hire.

In fact, since focusing on growth really is all about starting from where you are NOW, I'd like to give you the evaluation metric we used every year after tax season when I directed the marketing of a multi-million dollar firm.

The goal here is to give you a broad framework--you can fill in deeper details yourself. Here it is (with some guidance from me):


FOR THE OWNER

Marketing ROI

1) What measurement did you have in place?
a. If you did NOT, BEWARE of making knee-jerk decisions
b. If you DID, measure on ROI, not percentage

2) How you measure your marketing depends on your mindset
a. What were the reasons why some ads worked, and some didn't (Market, Message, or Media?)
b. Is "breaking even" acceptable based upon future revenue?

Sales Conversions

1) Can you track how many phone calls came in?
2) How many converted into appointments?
3) How many appointments converted into clients?

Staff Hires

Do you have a written evaluation procedure for your employees?

1.  Not just on accuracy, but also salesmanship, dependability
a. New services or up-sells attempted?
b. Now is the time to begin research of other services

2.  Exit surveys for seasonal hires--set them up now!

FOR THE TEAM & OWNER

Operations flow

  1. Where were the specific hang-ups?
  2. Accuracy controls--were they effective?
  3. Where can we combine functionality to increase efficiency?
  4. What can the owner delegate for next tax season, and the offseason
  5. Facilities -- Problems? Upgrades needed? What worked? Check now

Training Procedures

1.  Were you measuring the effectiveness of your training?
a.  Employee evaluations of YOU the owner (www.surveymonkey.com is an effective tool if you've got lots of employees)

Communication Procedures

  1. Were they clear?
  2. Where were the bottlenecks?
  3. Was there TOO MUCH communication? Too little?

This is a start...and I'll touch more next week about your intensity as it relates to making NEW marketing plans.

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