How to gain capacity quickly?
Updated: Jan 7, 2021
PPP.2 and ERC and 1099-NEC, oh my! Firm owners are worried about how everything will get done in January. Adding another team member this late will not happen, so here are some tips for gaining capacity quickly:
Communication with clients is critical. Let your clients know your plan. Consider using one or all of the following to gain back time:
Create one-to-many communications such as video updates (we recommend Loom) or webinars.
Encourage clients to delay filing tax returns. Our favorite method is to increase fees for the new year (10% or more) and offer a discount (same amount as the fee increase) for filing returns past the deadline. Limit the number of clients who can sign up to create urgency and prevent a secondary busy season.
Get a commitment from your clients on when their information will be ready. Hold them accountable to these commitments.
Start now! Getting a general idea of what clients are eligible for PPP.2 now will make your January smoother when applications are released.
Do not recreate the wheel. There are plenty of firm owners in the same situation as you. Consider using one or all of the following to gain back time:
Join a community. We recommend Realize (rlz.io). Realize is a community of accountants and advisers working together to hack realization collectively. Check out the ERC Eligibility Tool they recently built here. Note: We are a member of rlz.io and receive credit for referring members, but our intent mentioning Realize is to create a more diverse community and help others. Not get referral credits.
Learn from others. The AICPA and large firms are putting out some great content. Join their webinars with staff to keep up-to-date on the ever-changing stimulus.
Follow gurus on Twitter. At a minimum, we recommend Tony Nitti (@nittiaj) for in-depth insights on the stimulus programs, Jason Staats (@JStaatsCPA) for automating your processes, and CPA.com (@CPAcom) for additional guidance on the stimulus programs.
Consider outsourcing ERC to a firm that specializes in tax credits.
Use Administrative Staff
Most CPA firms underuse their administrative staff. We have found that the admin staff enjoy what some accountants would view as grunt work. We have also seen some admin staff that could run circles around accountants when adequately trained. Consider using one or all of the following to gain back time:
Have the admin team contact clients to see if they want help with PPP.2. The admin member can inform the client that they will put them on the list and reach out again once the SBA releases additional guidance.
Use admin to collect data from clients. They can even check for eligibility using the rlz.io tool discussed above.
The admin team can input data in your 1099 software. If you do not have 1099 software, we recommend Track1099.com or Tax1099.com. The user interface for both is easy to use, and both mail 1099s on your behalf.
Mandatory Upsell Clients
Firing clients is easier said than done. In our experience, firing clients does not work well. Either the client finds their way back to you or tells multiple people about a bad experience. Try mandatory upselling a client. The client either has to purchase an expanded offering or walk. Essentially, you are firing the client with a price, but the client is the one making the decision. The 4-Hour Work Week by Tim Ferries is an excellent book on this topic. Here is what we recommend:
Start with your bottom 10% of clients.
Create a package offering similar to the controller service one we wrote about here.
Inform clients this is the new way of servicing them. Some clients will not see the value and leave on their terms.
Continue to your next group of clients until you relieve enough time.
January is going to be tough for most accountants, and something has to give. Implementing just one item above will help, even if it is as small as following someone on Twitter. Starting now is the key to success.