How to position your appointments for profit

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It is common sense to take a method and try it. If it fails, admit it frankly and try another. But above all, try something.
– Franklin D Roosevelt

Writing to you today from sunny Toledo, Ohio (alright–more like 40’s and gloomy, but who’s counting?)…wrapping up our time picking up the pieces after the funeral for my wife’s father. Just wanted to take a brief moment to thank the (more than a few) very kind clients, friends, and business partners who sent notes, flowers and even gifts. I’m grateful and humbled by how people seemed to care so much. Thank you.
And you know what? I’ll long remember those who did so–who took the time and expense to make that personal connection. It does NOT go unnoticed.
Nor do your efforts to reach out to your clients and prospects in similar fashion. They don’t go unnoticed–even if you may not always get an immediate response. Even in the business arena (and I would actually say “especially” in the business arena), that personal touch is a welcome respite in a sea of mind-numbing corporate “distance”.
Which is why it’s so critical to include that personal touch when you speak to your clients–and why those other “off the shelf” solutions for print newsletters or email marketing are so ineffective. They’re just more “noise” to your clients, instead of truly building a relationship.
I hate to pound this point so much, but I’ve found (over the years) that most tax professionals I work with–at first–seem to be so used to wading through the material from the IRS, CCH, or other corporate/government entities, that they have to stretch a little bit in order to market themselves in a way that actually works.
And, when you build a relationship with your clients over the offseason, the BIGGEST bump (by far) comes during tax season, as referrals and retention go through the roof.
(By the way, if you’re not using either of these services, it’s not too late to start in order to have at least some of this impact come tax season. A few hundred bucks spent now will pay off HUGE when the season rolls around.)
Many of our tax professional clients are offering tax planning services right around now, and it’s a timely and valuable service for your clients–especially business owners. In this week’s Strategy Note, I’ve got some words of advice which will increase the attractiveness of these services–and virtually eliminate appointment cancellations.
Let me know your thoughts…
Nate Hagerty’s
“Profit For Life”
Tax & Accounting Business Marketing Strategy

Increase Planning Opportunities–
And Take Back Your Time While You’re At It

Back when I was doing more intensive, 1-on-1 coaching with clients, I had a client who had set up two different tax planning consultations one day, and neither of them showed up for their appointed time. It was a few thousand dollars of missed revenue (based on the projected billings which would have come out of the sessions).
You can imagine how they felt when those appointments were no-shows. And they never did end up showing up, either–the relationship fizzled, and MY client never got a clear sense as to why.
Don’t you hate cancellations? They mean no consistency, no predictability and ultimately may mean no business. We made some tweaks to my client’s process, and this issue went away.
(And, incidentally, it’s these sort of issues which prompted me to start this particular company in the first place–to just go ahead and DO for our clients what needs to get done. Building relationships, automatic follow-up and “setting the table” so that your clients see YOU as an authority whose time is NOT to be trifled with!)
Indeed–there are a few ways to increase the perceived value of your time, eliminate these kinds of cancellations–and make your sessions even more attractive in the first place. They all have to do with how you position these meetings from the beginning…
1.  Convert your free initial consultations into a meeting that has a name, a value and a purpose.  For example, one of my primary business partners, Alexis Martin Neely, has her Personal Family Lawyers not have “Free Consultations”, they have $750 “Family Wealth Planning Sessions” or $1,250 “Whole Family Wealth Audits” — each with a specific purpose.
There’s a perfect application for the tax & accounting professional. Instead of a “Free Consultation”, give your upfront meetings a name–like a $750 “Business Wealth Audit” or a $500 “Family Tax Analysis Session”. And, of course, you can waive those fees as an incentive.
Though you’ll also be surprised how many folks like the clarity and specificity of your “front door”…and will fork over money to meet with you.
Which makes it much easier to…
2.  Take a credit card to reserve time with you.  Does that scare you? It does for many, but every single professional I know that has tried it has never gone back.  It’s critical that you do it right though – or you will lose clients.  When done right, you’ll never do it any other way.
When your initial meetings already carry a perceived value, it’s much easier to justify this step.
Oh, and even better: you take control of your time again. And clients are much more prone to do what you advise.
3.  Create a pre-set “follow up” sequence that is run whenever someone makes an appointment.  I recently wrote about a pre-meeting package and that’s a really nice first step.  But a pre-planned series of emails and phone calls to your prospect — all designed to get them prepared for the meeting (and show up!) will even further melt away price resistance, cancellations and even ensure that you get what you need from them FASTER–which speeds up your processes and directly increases your bottom line (cutting down staff labor costs, etc.).

Look, your time is valuable. It’s time your clients and prospects knew that too. And when they do, not only might you add some nice meeting fees to your revenue, but you’ll find that your cancellations disappear.

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