Tips for Staying in Touch with Your Clients During the Off-Season to Boost Retention
How do you know if your clients will come back next year and the year after that?
It's easier to retain existing clients than to acquire new ones, but that doesn't mean client retention just happens automatically. Since tax filing for most clients only happens once a year, it's important that you proactively stay in touch with your clients year-round so you're top of mind come tax season.
Two topics many of your clients need to hear about from you are the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and how it might affect them personally, and the availability of funds for start-up businesses.
Availability of funds for start-up businesses
Do you have any clients who lost their job this past year, are struggling to find the right position, and/or are under-employed? Some of them might have ideas for a business but don't believe they can obtain the necessary start-up funding.
If you can think of a few clients who fit this description, consider sending them an email inviting them to chat with you about how you can help them launch their business idea. They will appreciate that you're thinking of them outside of tax season and that you're willing to take the time to share this kind of valuable information.
Even if they aren't interested in meeting with you, you can follow up with a copy of this article on how you can help or just send them the four key points in how you can guide them down the right path to obtaining funding for their business idea.
While it's ideal to meet face-to-face with your clients as often as possible, a simple email will help keep you top of mind and encourage them to think of you as their trusted advisor.
Help your clients make informed health insurance decisions
Some of these same clients who lost their jobs or are unemployed may also have gaps in health insurance coverage which could impact their 2015 tax liability. You may have had clients this past tax season who were unpleasantly surprised by their ACA penalty or requirement to pay back some of their subsidy.
Again, use this topic as an opportunity to keep in touch with your tax clients, provide them with valuable information, position yourself as a trusted advisor, and ultimately bolster your client retention.
Take a look at the information in this article, Help Your Clients Understand the ACA and Make Informed Health Insurance Decisions, and then review your client files to identify anyone you think could benefit from a conversation about the topic. Consider inviting them in to have a chat and/or send them highlights from the article.
Other tax-specific topics to stay in touch with your clients
There are other, more tax-specific topics you might want to discuss now with your clients so they have enough time to make changes to reduce their tax liability for tax year 2015.
Review and update W-4 elections.
Even something as simple as meeting with clients to evaluate and discuss their W-4 elections can go a long way in building your client relationships and retention.
Review business owner's entity selection.
Maybe you have clients who already own businesses and would benefit from reviewing their entity selection, or self-employed clients who have been filing Schedule C who might benefit from incorporating. You may not realize how little your clients know about these topics — and how much they would appreciate your expert advice!
Resolve feedback from client surveys
Lastly, if you decided to send an end of tax season client email survey, you may have uncovered some service issues with a few clients. Don't wait! Now is the time to contact those clients to discuss the issue and do what you can to resolve it. This will ensure your clients know you're listening and care about keeping them satisfied.
Trying just one of these off-season engagement ideas will likely work in your favor this upcoming tax season. Investing the time now will pay off with increased client retention, and ultimately more revenue for your practice. Good luck!
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.