Using Tax Preparation to Expand Your Practice
No matter what other accounting or professional services your practice may be providing, offering tax preparation can be a valuable step towards more holistic client service. Consider your practice’s ability to take on additional seasonal workload, and the added benefit to your existing clients from having a trusted professional prepare their tax returns.
Consider additional credentials you may need to present a competent and trust-worthy image. Beyond the familiar CPA (Certified Public Accountant) and attorney designations, you have the following options:
- Enrolled Agent – Licensed by the IRS. Must pass a Special Enrollment Examination, and a suitability check.
- Annual Filing Season Program Participant – Must obtain a certain number of continuing education hours in preparation for the tax season each year.
- PTIN Holder – Tax return preparers who have an active preparer tax ID number (cannot represent clients before the IRS, except regarding returns they prepared and filed prior to December 31, 2015).
Balance educational requirements, examination demands, and continuing education with the potential benefits of attracting more clients. Consider your staff’s qualifications and credentials, as well.
Reaching out to past clients, and to your business networks, can give you a boost in getting the word out about the new service available through your practice.
Don’t neglect your personal networks! Whether you connect with other people via a hobby, an outdoor lifestyle, or a sport, be present and open to opportunities.
Consider connecting with other professional businesses in your area in a strategic partnership. Attorneys and financial planners are just two of the options.
Perhaps there is another local tax preparation business that does not wish to take on clients that are a natural fit for you, and is willing to refer? Or maybe there is an older tax preparer in the area who is looking to transition out of the business. Explore your options, weigh the risks, and implement diligently.
Specialty niche positioning
Choosing a niche can position you to be an obvious fit for your ideal clients. Perhaps you want to focus on preparing the tax returns for the employees of a local medium-sized manufacturing business, or local doctors and dentists.
Any time a specialty niche consideration is involved, do your research. Are there other accountants elsewhere who specialize in the niche, and do they appear to be successful? Is the niche big enough to support your practice? Can you reach the decision makers in an efficient manner?
Balance the risk of narrowing your “ideal client” pool with the reward of commanding higher fees, and potentially spending less on marketing because of your ability to target the audience.