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How to use the off season to prepare for the busy season

Many accountants can’t wait until the holiday season starts rolling around. Their phones stop ringing off the hook, clients’ personal and corporate taxes are filed away, and there’s the great allure of relaxing with a cup of eggnog in front of the fireplace to end the year.

While it’s tempting to squeeze in some much-needed rest after months of accounting craziness, now is the best time to get all your ducks in a row in preparation for next season. So, while you should get some rest and relaxation in, make sure you are not just carving the turkey, but also carving out some time to work on business tasks.

We recently had the privilege of sitting down with Mike Pinkus, co-founder of ConnectCPA, a Canadian-based online accounting firm. ConnectCPA is a Firm of the Future. The firm has a Toronto office, which clients are welcome to visit, but the majority of their communication is conducted through online applications, such as Skype or Google Hangouts. This option saves clients time, avoiding the hassle of commuting to a meeting, says Pinkus. They also embrace value pricing, which lets the firm offer unique services as added value.

While many tax preparers and firms attempt (and often fail!) to spread the workload throughout the year, rather than have everything hit at once, Pinkus and his team at ConnectCPA have managed to consistently accomplish this.

Pinkus was kind enough to offer a few tips and tricks on how other tax preparers can do the same.

Set up effective internal processes

ConnectCPA finds a CRM with task deadlines to be helpful, since it generates deadlines for clients. Their CRM lets them see what’s on tap and the team establishes who handles the initial task, who reviews the work and who is accountable for any issues.

Find someone with tech expertise

There’s a lot of technology out there to make our lives easier, but it’s a matter of finding a solution that matches your expectations. If you or your employees lack technical expertise, reach out to experts to audit your systems. Not every firm should have a focus on technology, but take baby steps to improve since the industry is evolving at a fast pace, says Pinkus.

Touch base with your clients throughout the year

The relationship with your clients should be ongoing. At ConnectCPA, clients are kept up to date on how to manage their bookkeeping in the cloud, which includes QuickBooks® Online as one of the tools in their arsenal. By exclusively using cloud technologies with their clients, ConnectCPA has real-time information and data at their fingertips.

Once clients input their information into QuickBooks, ConnectCPA has real-time information and data at their fingertips. This lets the firm monitor the account’s current status and flag potential issues.

An example includes if a company underwent extensive growth and found themselves stuck with an unexpectedly large corporate tax payment, says Pinkus. In cases like this, accountants can advise clients to make advanced installment payments ahead of time to avoid a whopping lump sum payment.

By consistently heeding these steps throughout the year, you will free yourself up to take care of the various fires that come up for clients during the busiest part of tax season. I can’t guarantee that the busy season won’t be busy, but you will be setting yourself up for a much more successful season. Our fantastic partner, ConnectCPA, is a testament to that!

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