Last week, a local CPA colleague (David) asked me to join him for lunch with one of his clients. The client is planning to build a 300 room, $40M hotel in Atlanta.
After lunch, David and I talked about how he could add more value to the relationship and begin positioning himself as a trusted business advisor (Hint: It’s about more than just tax returns!).
Four specifics of work that David could provide jumped out from this simple hotel example:
I suggested that David do some homework (at his high dollar business advisor rate, not his low dollar tax filer rate!) and come back to his client with a simple plan describing these and possibly additional ways he can provide value throughout the project.
For any enlightened CPA, the key in positioning oneself as a business advisor is to ask probing questions, lay out a simple plan, and think more broadly than just the tax returns!
Try this: Sit down with one of your clients and use our Tax Incentive Organizer to uncover possible tax incentives around a given project or goal. It’s all online and it’s free. Try it here.
Have you noticed the following disconnect?
On the one hand, you’ve spent years with many of your clients – developing trust, growing the relationship, and positioning yourself as someone they can depend on.
But … how often do your clients call to run an idea by you? How often do they share their future plans? How often do they confide in you regarding their business challenges?
It’s frustrating! How can you get them to stop treating you as the “annual tax return filer” and, instead, view you as an indispensable business advisor?
Consider these two steps:
Here’s a practical way to get started: If your client feels they are paying too much in taxes, get together with them and complete a Tax Incentive Organizer to find out if they are missing out on any tax incentives. The Organizer questions will tie directly back to your client’s top business goals. Use this link to our online form here.
Every business faces challenges, some more than others. As a trusted advisor to your clients, it’s up to you to uncover these challenges, so that you can add value and grow your own practice in the process.
Getting clients to let you in on the details, however, is often easier said than done. They’re busy, and while they may share what’s on the surface, you need to help them dig into what’s underneath – the root causes.
Only by getting their problems out in the open can they see and feel that they need a resolution – and that you can help.
Here are three steps to getting this done:
Whether you call it business advisory services, counseling or even “client therapy,” it doesn’t matter.
The more you talk with your clients about their problems, the more they will feel that you understand them. Only then will they look to you to find solutions.
P.S. Here’s a terrific icebreaker to get you started. If your client feels they pay too much in taxes, complete a tax incentive plan and review it together, here!
Think back – each of your clients originally hired you to do something specific. Maybe it was filing tax returns. Maybe it was a review and audit of financial statements.
Whatever the initial focus, your relationships have grown over the years and, with that, the services you provide have expanded.
So now you need to know – did a gap form between what each of your clients needs and what you are providing?
Here is how to find out. For each client…
It’s a new day! Make sure each of your clients, if given the chance, would hire you again!
What did your clients really tell you during tax season?
As we all continue to catch up from a very busy tax season, now is a perfect time to uncover the “golden nuggets” represented by hidden tax incentives.
First, review your discussions, phone calls, and emails with clients. In the frantic pace to complete their tax returns, some of their comments may provide openings for additional discussions regarding potential tax credits:
Client: “It’s Hard to find new employees.”
Ask: Why are you hiring? (Potential Job Tax Credit or Work Opportunity Tax Credit)
Client: “Bankers are wanting more data for loans.”
Ask: What are you going to use the loan for? (Potential Cost Segregation Study, Investment Tax Credit or Job Tax Credit)
Client: “Computers and Internet security are a pain in the neck.”
Ask: What areas of your IT have changed? (Potential Retraining Tax Credit)
Client: “The price of real estate has really gone up.”
Ask: Where are you looking? (Potential Cost Segregation Study or other location based tax incentive).
The point is, all of these are signals for potential tax incentives. Mark these items for client follow-up before you move on to your next review.
Remember, your clients depend on you to look out for every dollar of taxes they don’t have to pay. Help them mine their own gold!
Once your client is matched with an appropriate tax incentive provider and an agreement is signed, the project is kicked off on the TaxCredible platform.
And don’t worry – it’s not a “black box.” Communication is simple, consistent and all in one place.
As the project progresses, you, your client and the provider can upload documents, add notes, see important reminders and receive notifications when changes are made. Everyone involved has visibility, all along the way.
Once the project is finalized, the completed documents are delivered to you and your client.
You’ll have all the information you need to incorporate into the appropriate tax return(s).
Screenshot: TaxCredible Tax Project Page
Think of TaxCredible as a secure, interactive platform. A platform that allows you to connect with trusted tax incentive providers who specialize in a broad range of tax incentives.
To start, log into your TaxCredible account and fill in a tax incentive plan.
From there, and based on your client’s specific needs and circumstances, we will introduce you to an appropriate provider (depending on the specifics, we may introduce you to several).
The provider(s) will follow up with you and your client to discuss the potential tax incentives. If all three of you agree to move forward, your client will sign the provider’s agreement and start their tax incentive project.
Simple, easy, efficient.
Screenshot: TaxCredible Tax Incentive Planning Page
Every year at tax time, CPAs begin by asking their clients two essential questions: “What did you do last year and what are your plans for next year?”
The list of potential answers is nearly endless, whether that involves creating new full time jobs, purchasing property, upgrading systems, and more.
In most cases, this process requires some additional prodding and questioning. As a CPA, you are applying your perspective and experience to uncover opportunities that your clients may not be aware of.
That’s where our tax incentive planning tool can help.
Log into TaxCredible, click “tax incentive plans,” answer a few questions, and we will connect you and your clients with trusted tax incentive providers who can help.
This positions you as a business advisor: asking in-depth questions; guiding future decisions; and saving your clients money based on how they run their respective businesses, today and in the future.
Screenshot: TaxCredible Tax Incentive Planning Page