Staffing up for Tax Season

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Hopefully, we are all getting close to having our staffing needs lined up for tax season! Many practice owners will tell us, especially right after tax season, “If I could only clone myself!” This is mainly due to the biggest bottleneck in tax season – typically centering around review.

In many practices, there are three or four preparers, each shuttling multiple returns daily to the owner, as the sole or main reviewer in the practice. Depending of course on how experienced and accurate those preparers are, that could mean a ton of work for the owner! The owner is also often taking care of many of the more complex returns as well as fielding client questions, conducting client interviews, managing the practice, etc.

There are of course several possibilities when handling this issue, and it’s not a one-size-fits-all for every practice. But for those of you who are hiring a senior level person to take over much of the review function, let’s look at some options. 

Some practice owners may not be willing to invest in this hire because of the concern that it would eat into tax season profits. Other owners, who, if they don’t hire, know they will need to turn work away in tax season, and/or seek other opportunities for additional services for existing clients, are more than willing to make this hire. They value their time, want better life balance but also want to hire in order to allow for practice growth.

So, then the question becomes, how do we find this clone (or at least as close as possible to one)? The unemployment rate in the US, as we know, is at an all-time low at the moment, but the unemployment rate in the accounting industry is even lower.

The key to this is not just to target that tiny fraction of the profession who are actively looking at ads, but to reach out to those who are already in positions and not actively looking. These may be very interested in the right opportunity – if presented with one. For example, in our experience, this type of candidate is often in a larger practice, where the road to becoming a partner is a very political one and as a result, upward mobility is limited. They may also be in practices where their work experience is limited due to lower level returns, and they want to branch out in other areas of tax and other types of work to broaden their skills.

In either case, these potential candidates are not being accessed by most practice owners at a time when they really need to widen their nets, in order to attract the right hire.

If you are tired of placing ads and getting the same lackluster results; including unimpressive resumes, limited experience, poor attitudes, etc. it may be time to take a more proactive approach to hiring. 

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Ciara MacMahon
Having worked with accounting practices since 1998, and prior to that working as an attorney in a set-up, very similar to a CPA practice, Ciara MacMahon, CEO of Phase Two Management Consulting, has successfully boosted revenues of accounting practices by 3 – 4X, while allowing the owner to take more time out of the practice. Accounting practice owners are faced with endless deadlines and the challenges of managing workflow, finding the right staff, staff training as well as securing the acquisition of quality new clients! They are also often tasked with the not too pleasant responsibility of imparting bad news regarding taxes due, that the unprepared client is unhappy enough about, to oftentimes ‘shoot the messenger’! As no two practices are the same and each owner has his own vision for what he/she wants, the first step is a Planning Session to work out the owner’s goals and a strategy to obtain them, in the fastest time period, and for the highest return. To schedule your one on one complimentary practice analysis and consultation, email Ciara MacMahon at consultantciara@gmail.com today.