There are a million different tips out there for how to make your tax season less painful and more productive. But you might be surprised at some of the suggestions here. Not your average tax season survival guide tries to think outside the box to give you something tangible to work with this busy season to actually survive without total burnout.
- Consolidate your tech – This does not mean shying away from automation. Firms need to be technologically focused to survive in today’s high-tech world, and accountants are no exception. Your office should be paperless and focused on automating as many processes as possible. The problem with too much emphasis on technology is that it can actually turn into a time suck if you’re not utilizing it efficiently. When you have to bounce between nine different browser tabs to get everything you need, there’s too much going on and you’re likely to lose client information, spend too much time toggling, or compromise your security. The right practice management system can help, but for the sake of time, try to focus all your attention this tax season on getting your clients to upload all their documents in one place. Make it easy for them and don’t accept documents via email or text, reinforce where they need to securely send information.
- Streamline your A/R – tools like TaxDome, Mango, and Anchor offer incredible automation when it comes to invoicing and collections. Extra points go to systems like Anchor that auto-bill your clients and require a credit card upon signing an engagement letter. Invoicing and collections can eat up a lot more administrative time than we realize. Putting tools in place to cut this down will help improve your overall productivity. Many firms are still in a more archaic mindset with invoicing, but auto payment requirements and prospective billing can help improve your profit margins and save you hours every month.
- Centralize client communications – Reiterating the above, don’t allow clients to send you documents and communications using too many different varieties of communication. Email is still pretty common but that should be the only exception outside of client portals and document management software. If your team has to search through someone’s inbox every time they prep a return, they’re wasting time. Practice management software that connects to email to help save client communications automatically can help, but start training clients now on where their information needs to go if they want a timely filed return.
- Set-up e-signature – This should be a no-brainer but this is an easier area to be paying for duplicate services and getting information caught in too many places. Most tax software offers e-signature services which is the easiest way to go in terms of tracking all your tax returns being signed. If you don’t have that option, one centralized solution like DocuSign or your practice management software is the way to go. No matter what you decide, keep it all in one place and don’t pay for multiple options.
- Prioritize your team – by team I mean their mental health. Burnout is a killer and the last thing any of us want is for our best team members to call it quits because the stress of the busy season is too much. Take care of your people! Have bagel Friday, bring in someone for chair massages, and go for a lunchtime walk 3-days a week as a group. You need to prioritize team wellness and remind them that while the workload may be stressful, their health and families are important and that you value those things for them.