The Easiest Way to Grow Your Tax Preparation Business Is Also Free!
It's never too early to start growing your business for next tax season.
In fact, now is the perfect time to ask your clients for referrals, while your excellent service — and their tax savings or large refund — is still fresh in their minds.
Asking for referrals should be your go-to business development tactic.
It's the least expensive and most effective way to market your business. Because you already have relationships with your clients, you don't need to spend much time or money to get their attention.
Why referrals are the best way to grow your business
The reason referrals are such an extremely effective way to expand your business has to do with trust. A recommendation from a trusted friend, family member or colleague goes a long way.
When you can call a potential new client and tell them someone they know and trust recommended you, it's a much easier sell than starting from scratch with a lead you got from an advertisement or web search.
Some professionals aren't comfortable asking clients for referrals. They feel it's an awkward favor to ask of clients who pay for services. As a matter of fact, these conversations can go a long way towards strengthening the relationships with your clients.
The simple act of explaining to your clients that you believe they have connections to help build your business, as well as the credibility and trust it requires to make such a recommendation, shows your respect for them and makes them feel good.
How to ask your clients for referrals
Your success in getting referrals largely depends on delivering the right message in the right way at the right time.
Recently, we shared ideas for implementing a client satisfaction survey. If you've done something like that, you've created the perfect opportunity to ask for a referral!
Identify your most satisfied and loyal clients first. Think about who saved money this year, who received a great refund and who gave you high marks on their satisfaction survey — these are the clients who will be most open to giving you a referral.
Set up time to speak with your client — remember, an in-person or telephone conversation is the best way to ask since you are, in fact, asking for a favor.
Start by explaining why you're asking, mention that you believe their recommendation would be very helpful and finish by asking directly for a referral.
"I am so pleased we were able to help you save money on your taxes this year. We appreciate your business. As I am sure you can appreciate, we build our business with recommendations from our loyal clients. I believe a referral from you would go a long way towards helping us secure a new client for next tax season. Do you know someone who might also benefit from our tax services?"
If you are fortunate enough to get a name right away, thank your client, acquire all relevant contact information and confirm your client is comfortable with you using his or her name when you call the referral.
Make contact with the referred prospective clients right away, and mention your client referred you.
Explain why you're calling and ask for a face-to-face meeting so you can begin the process of establishing a relationship and winning their business.
Frequently, your clients will tell you they are willing to give you a referral, but need to think about names. Follow that up by asking them if it's alright for you to check in with them in a month or two via email.
Sometimes this is the client's polite way to skirt the issue, but you never know - it's worth following up once or twice to see if you get a name or two.
Don't let a lack of marketing budget, resources or experience keep you from growing your business.
Asking your satisfied clients for referrals is an easy, impactful business development activity. All it takes is a little time and some good conversations.
About Lisa Rhatigan
Lisa is Vice President of Business-to-Business Marketing at TaxAct. Prior to joining TaxAct, Lisa was a principal in a business development consulting firm that helped CPA firms and other professional service firms grow their businesses.