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Our 4th Tax Season

It’s sort of become a tradition for us to provide a recap of how our previous tax seasons have gone. What is special about this year is that while it is our fourth with our Beverly retail office, it marks our 10th year in business! Keep your eyes peeled for a future post on that topic and some special things we will be doing to celebrate.

As always, we’ve still got some more analysis to do, but here are some of the preliminary successes that we are aware of:

  • 20% growth in client load
  • 49 new clients entrusted us with their tax situation
  • Revenue growth in excess of 45%
  • Processed returns in 19 states, which is slightly down from last year, BUT does not include anything we have on extension (which could send us above the number of states processed last year).

Our Challenges We won’t rehash too much of this here as we already put out a post on why this was the worst tax season in 35 years. We’ll just simply let you read that one at your leisure!

Our Triumphs. There were a lot of things that did go well this season. The short version includes:

  • Staffing – We had some of our seasoned folks come back and we added new faces to the lineup. Without either Stephanie or Patricia working in the trenches this year, things would have been a lot harder than they were. Thank you ladies!
  • Bus Benches – We’ve written about how bus benches work in the past. What we noticed this year is that the longer they are in the public space, the better they do over the long haul. This year alone we can attribute 18% of our new clients coming as a result of these benches. With a little bit of refining, looks like this will continue to be a medium we advertise with.
  • Gaining Scale – Scale can mean a lot of things in business. What we are referring to is that fact that the business is taking on a life of it’s own. It’s reached a size where things are sort of just “naturally occurring” and it’s now our job to simply try and guide it. This is a good thing though and something that we’ve been anticipating for the past 3 years. It now means that we can begin to transition how we do things and set our focus a little further down the road instead of simply where are next sale will come from.

While growing a financial service business is not easy in today’s competitive environment, it’s satisfying to know that we’re still able to make progress towards the goals we set out for ourselves 10 years ago.

If you want to know how any of our past seasons went, feel free to read about them here:

Season One
Season Two
Season Three

Here’s looking to a bright future and since we’re 80’s babies, only this song would be considered fitting!

Our 2nd Tax Season

So last year was our first season with the new office.  Based upon what we learned, we planned to make 2013 even better and we’d have to admit that it was.  While we can’t share specifics around all our numbers, here are some of the things we can volunteer:

  • We engaged roughly 112 clients and processed 130+ individual and business returns (not including state returns)
  • Experienced revenue  growth in excess of 150%
  • Processed returns in 10 new states
  • Completed our CTEC certification so that we can now prepare California tax returns (we processed 2 for this season)
  • Placed more returns on extension that in years past; largely due to not being able to service demand in the last 3 days of the season (from clients like the one pictured below)

No, we can’t finish your return before the 15th!

What went well

Delivering excellent customer service.  One of the ways in which we try to different ourselves from our competitors is by focusing on our relationships with our clients.  We have always sought to treat our customers like they were members of our family and make it a point to deliver excellent customer service.  We think that this must be working pretty well as we received 30% of our client growth from existing client referrals.

Leveraging free advertising.  Our company uses social media, posts ads in places like Craigslist, has profiles on platforms such as Yelp, Bing, Google etc.  What’s common about all of the above is that is cost us nothing more than a few minutes of time to set up and maintain.  Yet each one of these platforms more than pays for itself in that it brings us at least one new client per season.  With that being said, we think we’ll continue to make sure our presence is felt out there in the internet ethos.

Deepening our partnerships.  In 2012 we had a few independent sales reps who helped promote our brand.  In 2013 we increased that number to around 6.  Each one of these individuals helped us significantly expand our presence and was responsible for a fair amount of growth.  Likewise, we forged another partnership in early 2013 with a 3rd party that drove significant business to us this year.  We look forward to continuing all these relationships next year.

What we’ll adjust 

Marketing that isn’t working.  Each year we test out some things to see if we can get an edge on our competitors.  Some of it works and some of it doesn’t produce much of anything.  The key is to be able to track what a marketing piece is doing so you can know what should be retained and what needs to be scrapped.  With that being said, we’ll probably shift some of our dollars out of print, organizational and media advertising.   We have some ideas of what we want to test next; such as Jared Rogers’ mug on a bus bench or big billboard on the side of the highway so stay tuned!

Aspects of our client relations program.  Existing clients are how we generate a lot of our new business.  Thus, it’s pretty important that we engage them on a regular basis.  But when certain things don’t yield the engagement or interaction you would like, then maybe it’s time to shake things up.  On this front we’ll probably modify our newsletter program and reduce the frequency of it.  In its place we plan to increase some of the other ways we “touch” our clients such as birthday cards, holiday correspondence, biannual client calls and increased classes/workshops.

Our commitment to working smarter.  One of the epiphanies we had this season was how much more lucrative it was to work with our corporate clients on a revenue per hour basis.  Jared has a pretty good background working with Partnerships and S-Corps, which in turn sometimes have problems because they weren’t set up correctly.  To that end, the firm may make a switch to more actively seeking these clients as opposed to individuals.  While this doesn’t mean we’ll abandon taking on individual tax clients, it does mean that we will place some marketing efforts towards attracting more corporate clients.  Hey, if you can make 3 times as much revenue in the same amount of time, doesn’t it make sense to work a little smarter?

2014 will mark our 3rd season with the retail office and we are truly hoping that it is more successful than our wildest dreams.  To that end, keep your eyes peeled as we’ll be making many of those adjustments noted above in the coming months.  How knows, maybe next year we can exceed the growth we achieved in 2013.  If that happens, we think we’ll need to start hiring some more folks before Jared collapses from exhaustion!

Until next time…