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Growing a business

It’s not too late to get tax clients

Right now, work is coming in the door at a pretty steady pace. You could bury your head in tax returns and come up for air after this year’s deadline – after all, that’s what most tax preparers do – and then spend the rest of the year worrying about where new business will come from.

A better approach would be to search for new clients right now – and truly set yourself apart from your competitors. I know that time is a precious commodity during busy season, so here are a few ideas to help generate leads, without requiring you to give up much more sleep.

Ask for referrals. Since you’ll be seeing, or talking with, a majority of your tax clients, ask for referrals while the exceptional service you provide is fresh in their minds. People like helping others, so they’ll help you, too. Don’t assume they automatically will tell everyone they know about you because they probably won’t. You should work “the asking” into your process with something as simple as:

“I appreciate the confidence you have put in me the past X years. I’m looking to grow my business and want to see if you know someone who could use my services.”

And, you could be more specific by, for example, asking for a precise type of buyer, such as a physician or engineer. This will make it easier for people to think of names to share. It also helps you be more strategic about the business you’re growing.

What’s the worst that can happen, other than your client saying “no”? It’s not the end of the world, and it’s not the end of your relationship. It’s probably because of their own fears and nothing you did. Never take it personally.

Launch a referral contest. If you’re uncomfortable asking for referrals, consider running a contest. Be creative because the options are endless.

How it works: You’ll enter your clients into a drawing for each referral they give you, and then pull one or more names on a specific date and hand out the prizes. The prizes need to be enticing, but realize it’s not the biggest draw for participation. Most will take part because you asked. Run the contest with signs in your lobby, an email to your clients, a social media share, a line in your email signature or a combination of any of those ways.

Don’t stop marketing. Think about the marketing tactics you use throughout the year: an email newsletter, blog posts and even social media sharing. It’s easy to pull back on these things when there are more pressing issues on your plate, but that’s a big mistake. Out of sight is out of mind! It takes time to fill the sales funnel. Any delay in marketing initiatives means a delay in leads, too.

Outsourcing is an option to help you keep things moving along. If doing it yourself becomes impossible, you can find people who can help you with writing, posting, media relations and most any marketing strategy you’re implementing.

Get out of the office and network. Yes, I know you’re busy, but you still have to find the time to network; you can’t just shut it off for four months. There are activities that happen year-round. If your key targets are getting together, you need to be there. Let’s say you have an oil and gas niche and there is a big conference on March 1. Don’t pass on this tremendous opportunity to go network with your current clients and meet prospects as well. Chances are you knew about this event a year in advance. Plan your work around it.

Be sure to schedule meetings with your referral sources during busy season, too. They are encountering people you want to work with on a regular basis, and you need to remind them of that.

Consider social media advertising. On social media channels, such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, you can gain leads by targeting a precise buyer group with a specific service, and an offer so good that they want to reach out to you – such as accessing the great content you developed. You have the ability to test different messages to see what works best, and adjust mid-stream to improve your results. And, unlike other forms of advertising, you will have metrics that show your return on investment. It’s also affordable – you can set a budget you can afford and not spend a dollar more.

If you have capacity to compete more tax work, then this is a tremendous opportunity. Many people search for tax help this time of year because they dread doing what they’ve always done. You may be exactly who they are looking for.

Growth takes year-round effort

Yes, thing are crazy. You are overwhelmed, but you know that you have to be doing something. If you focus on getting new clients when you have less work, you are missing out on the number of buyers searching for what you offer right now. You don’t have to launch massive campaigns and undertake significant projects the first few months of the year, but a little effort will go a long way. Good luck!

Editor’s note: This article was originally published on the Intuit® ProConnect™ Tax Pro Center.

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