Owners and managers of small- to mid-size accounting firms often feel as though they are at a competitive disadvantage with their larger counterparts. Though you can swing the balance of power in your favor by recruiting “rainmakers” and cutting costs to a certain degree, the best course of action is to tap into contemporary technological solutions. Modern-day technology has somewhat levelled the playing field, empowering small- to mid-size firms by providing the resources that dramatically increase productivity.
Social media provides small accounting firms with the opportunity to distinguish themselves from the pack. Most large accounting firms limit their marketing budget, assuming that their namesake and word-of-mouth referrals will provide a steady stream of clients. Small accounting firms should pounce on the opportunity to gain low-cost exposure through social media platforms. This does not mean that your accounting firm must hire a full-time social media guru. Rather, dedicate a trusted part-time employee or an intern to your social media efforts. Or, have a full-time employee spend a portion of his time managing these accounts.
Social media is a fantastic way to connect with new clients as well as those who are already on-board. Yet a steady stream of social media posts will not suffice. Your social media content must be highly unique and informative. Use these platforms as a means of differentiating your firm from the pack. A comprehensive social media strategy will also include content posted to attract talented employees. Post helpful content that provides unique insight and information that solves problems. This is how you gain sway with clients as well as prospective employees. Once you establish your firm as an authority on a breadth of accounting issues, business will pick up, and your bottom line will reap the benefits. Furthermore, providing a steady stream of information that helps solve client problems will knock down any perceived barriers between clients and your firm. A prospective client who perceives your staff as somewhat altruistic will be much more inclined to hire you for his accounting needs.
Consider the length of your average client’s tax return. Preparing projects of such a considerable magnitude takes significant manpower, time and money. You can ameliorate the tax return challenge by ramping up your firm’s efficiency. Tap into the power of the cloud, and you will find that digital workflows are completely altered. Too many small- to mid-size firms still rely on Quickbooks because of the software’s popularity and assumed efficiency. Cloud technology is now capable of reducing the amount of time and effort invested in preparing tax returns, reviewing the work and delivering it in a timely manner. You can even e-file the documents with cloud technology.
The cloud gives accounting firms the ability to compile data entry and voluminous amounts of information in a single space that is easily accessible. Cloud computing dashboards even allow for client access and a shared interface that permits collaboration between clients and firm employees. Portals empower both parties to upload and download documents while keeping the lines of communication open at all times. Part of the cloud’s appeal is that it allows accountants and their staff to access client data from remote locations, regardless of what type of mobile device is on-hand. This remote access empowers your staff to perform work regardless of where they are situated. The bottom line is that the cloud is mutually beneficial for your firm as well as your clients.
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