Most everyone wants to work less and make more (yes, I know a few workaholics may not agree). But many of us get so caught up in the rat race that we don’t step back and look at our own ways to free up some time. I developed some of my favorite technologies and best practices that may cut down on the time you waste.
- Use marketing automation – First and foremost, you make money working with clients, not writing blog articles, setting up email newsletters, posting to social media or studying the latest SEO trends. You don’t suggest clients do their own taxes or clean their own teeth, so why spend non-billable time trying to figure out what works in marketing when there are proven accountant marketing experts who can help you?
- Go mobile – When I say go mobile, I mean really go mobile. Make sure you can get all of your email on your mobile devices. Use IMAP email to sync all of your accounts. Mobile devices make it much easier to handle client inquiries out of the office.
- Use VOIP and soft phone technology – Voice over IP (VOIP) technology lets you take your office phone line with you. Voice messages can be received via email, and client calls can be directed to whatever device you are using. A soft phone is just software that you load on your mobile device or desktop that lets you use the speakers and headset to take calls. The soft phone can reside on all of your devices. So your business phone can ring where you are (and yes, you can turn it off). There is no more physical phone to hold you down. I suggest Onsip for VOIP and Bria softphones.
- Use automated appointment reminders – This one seems like the biggest no-brainer. Technology allows you to automate everything from due date reminders to appointment reminders. If you have your calendar online, clients can even book appointments with you by themselves. Clients can receive email, text or even voice reminders. This cuts down on no-shows and saves staff time. And clients appreciate the reminder to keep them on schedule.
- Use E-Sign technology – The traditional paper engagement letters, 7216 disclosure and even e-file authorization should be a thing of the past. Who wants to print, mail, sign and scan anymore? What used to take days can now be handled online in minutes.
- Use a client portal – If you are still printing returns and using client folders or even CDs, you are wasting not only paper, postage and assembly time, but also the costs associated with this old-world process. Secure client portals provide convenience and speed for both you and the client. If you are missing information and need it now, your client portal has you covered.
- Set up a Dropbox account – We use it for our business. We now share multiple folders with sales, support and development. The comments tools make it even easier to collaborate. Dropbox offers different levels of security but makes it easy to access files from anywhere. The apps for your iPad and mobile keep you connected. If you can get tasks done on demand, it saves you time away from the office and commuting.
- Use webinars and video to share your knowledge with a group – Take your knowledge and package it into an ongoing webinar. What could be better than talking to a group of prospects versus one-on-one consultation? Expect 10-20% of the webinar audience to be interested in talking to you further. Perhaps you target Homeowner Associations with tax filing questions and issues. Create a 30- to 50-minute presentation in which you review the ins and outs of tax compliance issues. Keep it educational. Use the first 5 minutes to introduce who you are and why they should listen to you. Then get into the meat of the presentation by touching on their pain points. Ask them if the issues you are highlighting affect them. Close with a statement like, “if what we talked about today hits home, then perhaps it is worth talking to come up with some solutions.”
These are just a few changes that can really make you more productive. It is about your freedom to not be locked down to your job but still be highly profitable. You will find that your clients appreciate your responsiveness and the convenience that technology delivers.