Most CPA firms take steps to ensure that all members of the firm are fully versed in tax law changes and new requirements for preparers. Most firms also take steps to ensure that internal procedures, expectations, and requirements are understood by all. Many firms do this in a meeting of all members of the firm. Some firms do this by having partners meet with subordinates. Other firms distribute information and reports.
I like the idea of a meeting of everyone in the firm (including receptionists and assistants) because it ensures that everyone is on the same page and working to achieve the same goals during the busiest time of the year for the firm. This meeting is the time to on-board everyone with policies, procedures, goals, needs and priorities. For example,
- Who will and who will not see clients during tax season?
- Which clients will be seen by which members of the firm?
- How are schedules to be managed, and by whom?
- What are the priorities of the firm during the season?
- What are the firm’s expectations of each member of the firm?
- Does the firm want to gather any information from all clients or from some clients?
- Have these goals and expectations been included in the tax preparation checklist?
- Have the appropriate information-gathering forms been created and distributed?
- Does each preparer know the criteria by which s/he should schedule a follow-up with the client to act on key changes in the client’s life or business?
- What are the typical indicators that the preparer should sell additional services to the client?
- Which clients have been segmented to be asked about other advisors?
I’m sure you get the point. It is far too easy to overlook important steps or questions during such a busy time for a CPA firm. This is, after all, the reason most firms use checklists so heavily. Getting the whole team together for a pre-game rally will ensure that everyone is looking at the same sheet of music and singing the same song in the same key and at the same tempo.
The business development team gathering at the outset of tax season is the firm’s opportunity to set the agenda for churning out the work, setting priorities, ensuring that everyone is advancing toward the same strategic goals and that the right person in the firm is seeing the most strategically important clients. Only by setting the tone for the firm in such a meeting can the entire firm work together to achieve both tax season and business development goals to move the firm into a secure future.