tax and accounting clients
tax and accounting clients

The top 5 things you need to know to grow your practice

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When many tax and accounting firm owners first started their practice, they put in place measures that allow them to serve their clients and have the practice they want. However, after a period of time, they hit a ceiling where they are stretched thin and their practice plateaus. Some firm owners are content to keep the status quo, but for those looking to grow, here are the top five things you need to know to grow your practice.

Make the Choice

The first thing to know is growth is a choice. If you want to grow your practice, you need to make the choice to do so and have plan for growth. Many practices don’t have a plan for the future and simply serve the clients that come to them. Making the choice to grow means setting up a plan for what you want your practice to look like in the future. That plan can be how much revenue you want three years from now, or many clients or employees you want. This growth plan will help you align the decisions you make for your practice so that you can grow and reach those targets.

Invest For Your Future

While it would be nice to make the choice to grow and then it magically happen, that is not the reality. The reality is that you are going to need to make an investment in your practice, which can happen a few different ways. One investment could be to upgrade the software you use to run your business. If the software you are using now is unable to handle the growth you are expecting, you should make an investment in software that can scale with your growth.

Another investment you could make is to hire employees. Your practice can’t grow if you are the only person doing the work or you are spending most of your time working in the business instead of on the business. Investing in hiring employees before you have the revenue to support them will allow you to focus on growing your practice. Growth requires investment into your practice now so you have the right tools to achieve the growth you are looking for.

Structure to Support the Growth

Growing tomatoes in a garden can be hard to do. If you are trying to grow big, red beefsteak tomatoes, you can’t simply plant seeds in the ground and water them to get tomatoes. Those big tomatoes require structures like tomato stakes and trellises in order to grow, or the weight of the tomatoes will break their vines. Much like tomatoes, your practice needs the right structure in order to achieve the growth you need. Many small practices either have very minimal structure or lack structure all together. There are a couple of structural elements you can add to your practice. The first is an accountability chart that outlines what each person in your practice is responsible for. In the book “Traction” by Gino Wickman, the author describes the accountability chart as identifying the major functions in your business and assigning people to each of the major functions, and then defining roles within the major functions. This chart will provide structure around the different roles within your practice and provide accountability to the people assigned to those roles.

The second element is defining and documenting the core processes that make up what your practice does, and making sure everyone is following those processes. For example, a core process may be the tax preparation process. In that process, you can define each step of the tax preparation process from start to finish. By creating the accountability chart and documenting the core processes, you can then elevate yourself from doing the day-to-day work and spend your time growing your practice.

Adaptation Through Communication

For smaller practices or solo practitioners, clients typically are accustomed to the practice owner doing their work. When you are growing your practice, the work you were doing should shift to your employees. However, clients may take issue with this transition. Jason Blumer from Thriveal recommends that the clients who were with your practice before the “legacy line” was drawn in the sand need to adapt to the new structure in place or move on from your practice. You can help your clients get over the legacy line by proactively communicating with them about the changes. Let them know how you are changing, what this means for them, and how they will receive better service as a result. By doing this, those legacy clients likely won’t feel the need to move to another firm as you grow.

Growing What Is Already There

Growing your practice does not necessarily mean getting more clients. You can grow your practice by offering more services to your clients. If your practice is mainly focused on tax preparation, you could offer bookkeeping or advisory services to your clients. For example, for individual tax clients, you may be able to offer tax planning services. Utilizing the Tax Planner in ProConnect professional tax products, you can help your clients manage their taxes throughout the year, providing them advice on how to plan in order to save on their tax bill or invest in their future. For business tax clients, you can be a one-stop shop, providing all of their accounting needs from bookkeeping and payroll to forecasting. By providing these new services, you can grow your firm without getting new clients.

Growing your practice requires you to make a choice and invest in your practice. By putting in place the right structure, guiding your clients through the changes and potentially providing additional services to them, you can grow the firm to fit where you would like it to be in the future.

Editor’s note: Learn about the Tax Planner for Intuit® ProConnect™ Tax Online, Lacerte® and ProSeries® professional tax products.

2 responses to “The top 5 things you need to know to grow your practice”

  1. In the paragraph about “Growing what is already there”. Do you find it easier to charge per service or just a monthly fee that covers bookkeeping, payroll and tax preparation?

    • David, that is a great question. It depends on the services you offer and the clients you are serving. There are some clients I serve where we bundle all services together in one price, and some others who we price each service separately. When we price, we usually will provide three different options for the pricing of bookkeeping services and then fixed rate price for the tax return. Sometimes clients will ask that the annual tax return price get split up and added to the monthly bookkeeping price. If you are looking to implement this, it never hurts to ask your clients what they prefer. It also depends on what you want to do as you manage the pricing for your firm with your clients.