To every tax, accounting, and bookkeeping professional reading this, if no one has told you lately, I want to say “thank you.”
The work you do, by my understanding, is considered essential. For every piece of new legislation, filing extensions, loans, and forgiveness that sprung up over the last 12 months, you were there – interpreting, partnering, advising. You are the unspoken “frontline” holding our nation’s finances together. So, thank you.
Looking ahead to 2024, we are already set up for another version of Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride. It would be easy and frankly understandable to fall into a heads-down routine while learning new and ever-changing tax law, and executing on your mountain of work. But, as small businesses continue to seek your advice, work side-by-side with you, and lean crucially on your expertise, it is essential to be intentional and take opportunities to encourage, and even thank, them for making you their trusted advisor.
How do you do that?
#1: Look inward before we look outward
A good friend used to tell me, “We can’t give away something we don’t have ….” I interpret that to mean that I am not very effective at encouraging others if my inner dialogue is messy. Hence, it’s vital to make it a habitual thing to step away from work for a mental reset. I have even gone so far as to create a recurring 15 minutes on my calendar every workday to get up, take some deep breaths, and do something relaxing, such as taking a quick walk or sitting on the porch.
There are also some pretty great apps, including Headspace, making meditation easy to start and fun to do. And, if you’re in a pinch – maybe in the car or stuck in traffic – try picking up the phone and asking a friend or a colleague how they are doing. The trick is to let them share uninterrupted. It works.
#2: Turn that goodness outward and elevate your clients
From speaking with my industry professionals’ network, the best way I have heard to thank your clients is to help them succeed, albeit success can take on different meanings right now. Frankly, in some cases, success means to “just get by” until the economy opens back up. In other cases, it may mean how to best pick up the pieces. But, in every case, lending your financial expertise is in significant demand, and your clients’ small businesses can benefit from it. You are their business partner and advisor. I encourage you to take the opportunity while they are engaged to help them diversify their income, increase their savings, and forecast the next 12-18 months to try to mitigate the unknown.
#3: Write personal, handwritten thank-you notes
These still go a long way to help you elevate your clients – and will make my Nana proud. Yet, the digital age has driven us all to email, text, and chat. And, if I’m honest, I can type 100x faster than I can write. By the way, is cursive still a thing?
If you’re like me, I would much rather type, which is part of what makes a handwritten note so special. When I see one come in the mail, I know you slowed down and took the time to write out your thoughts and feelings.
Don’t believe me? Try handwriting a note to your child or spouse, and check out their response. It works for your clients, too. And, yes, looking at a big, blank piece of paper or card stock can be daunting, so try an opening like this: “We worked together to … (be awarded a PPP loan, secure forgiveness, start a new services line) and I wanted to take a moment to say thank you for trusting us to be your advisor during these uncertain times.” The key is to be specific to that client and please, by all means, be authentic and sincere.
Still not sure where to start? Well, this is the exact moment when I usually turn to technology. Some genuinely great companies make client and employee appreciation a breeze. Consider looking into partnering with a global leader in the space, such as BI Worldwide, whose “mission is to turn inspiration into real results for our clients.” Inspiration. We could all use a little of that right now. What better way to start than with a thank you?
I would love to hear how you are encouraging your clients this year. Please leave a comment below and drop me a line on social!
Editor’s note: This article was originally published on the Intuit® Tax Pro Center.