I’ve already made it fairly clear that I think it is a mistake for a CPA firm to make the decision to reduce the number of clients they see face to face during tax season. At the same time, I am realistic enough to know that meeting with all clients face-to-face will severely limit the number of returns you can prepare and the amount of time available for actually doing the work. Therefore, the firm must figure out how to decide which clients you will meet with (face-to-face) during this tax season.
Each firm must consider its strategic goals and needs. The client segment(s) selected for meetings during tax season should advance the firm’s growth or move it toward achievement of goals. At the same time the firm will also need to consider the needs of individuals within the firm as they strive to enlarge their books of business.
If a partner or a principal in your firm has launched or will launch a micro-niche practice, it might make sense for the firm to segment all clients who could or should become micro-niche clients. Meeting with those clients supports the growth of the micro-niche and can be an opportunity for the person building the micro-niche to gather important information about the relevant industry, client needs, pain points, and other advisors of the target clients. These face-to-face meetings during tax season also provide an opportunity to introduce the specialized services and the value proposition to appropriate clients and to advance the marketing agenda.
Another firm might provide niche services to one or two industries, but want to extend the reach of the niche into another industry or two. The strategic goals of the firm could be advanced by segmenting clients in that/those industry/industries and target them for face-to-face conversations during tax season. Again, this is an opportunity to learn, build relationships, make introductions and advance the marketing agenda.
Another firm might be trying to expand into another geographical region. For example, in an area when there is current rapid expansion and growth of suburban areas, it would make strategic sense for the firm to try to increase its visibility in those areas and learn more about the people moving to those areas. Segmenting existing clients in now living in those areas and targeting them for conversations might be a way to learn and to introduce a referral program that will make existing clients evangelists to their neighbors.
Another well-established firm with a long history might be experiencing a loss of important business clients as their baby-boomer clients retire. Many will pass their businesses to heirs, while other will sell their businesses. The result is often a loss of business for the firm. The senior/managing partners in the firm might decide they need to act strategically to replace those business clients. The plan might include building new centers of influence that will provide a stream of new referral clients.
It is not feasible for any firm to meet with all clients during tax season. Instead, the firm can see no clients, or the firm can decide to allow their clients to self-select who gets face time, or it can strategically select certain client segments for face-to-face meetings. Strategic considerations must be part of your rationale for how to decide which clients you will meet with (face-to-face) during this tax season. Strategic selection will enable the firm to reap benefits throughout the remainder of the year and for years to come.