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WAYS TO GET AHEAD OF THE BUSY SEASON GAME. Michael Elliott, CPA Manager/Principal-in-Transition, Dittrick & Associates, Inc. Michael Elliott is a graduate.

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Presentation on theme: "WAYS TO GET AHEAD OF THE BUSY SEASON GAME. Michael Elliott, CPA Manager/Principal-in-Transition, Dittrick & Associates, Inc. Michael Elliott is a graduate."— Presentation transcript:

1 WAYS TO GET AHEAD OF THE BUSY SEASON GAME

2 Michael Elliott, CPA Manager/Principal-in-Transition, Dittrick & Associates, Inc. Michael Elliott is a graduate of Franklin University, majoring in accounting and business administration. He has been in public practice since 2007 and is currently serving as the manager/principal-in-transition at the firm Dittrick & Associates, Inc.

3 Jason Deshayes, CPA Vice President/Shareholder, Butler and Company CPAs PC Jason has been serving clients since 2003, providing tax, accounting and consulting advice to individuals and closely-held businesses, with a focus on professional services, medical and veterinary practices, individual taxation and business start-ups. Honored in 2011 as one of New Mexicos 40 Under Forty by NM Business Weekly

4 Todays Top 10 Set The Tone Update Your Skills Evaluate Staffing Review Hardware Test Your Software Smooth Out the Work Document Your Processes Be In Your Happy Place Think Long Term Be Proactive

5 Set the Tone With Staff Establish a rough timeline of what needs to be done for year-end and busy season Meet in early January to get everyone on the same page Brief on new processes for the year and any potential pitfalls you are aware of With Clients Send a letter with your organizers Create an extension deadline – Get in by xxx or were extending Have their bill ready with the return Communicate situations you are aware of with your clients

6 Update Your Skills Skill assessment What did your staff do well in the prior year? Are there obvious areas where the firm needs improvement – i.e. an audit situation, peer review flaws, etc.. Wasted research time on basic issues Year-end technical updates Tax staff should receive a full tax update each year – always changes! A&A updates are important as time is often wasted learning rules during crunch time Updates should be completed before year end to allow for updates to be properly disseminated to clients for planning

7 Evaluate Staffing More Time to do the Same Work Need to reassess if your staffing is appropriate still Hire now and have them trained before it gets nuts Seeing across the board – more staff needed to keep client service up to snuff Alternative Staffing Interns – they want the experience and can do a lot of the grunt work that takes up a lot of your time Part-Time Seasonal – there are a lot of stay-at-home parents looking to keep sharp, but not commit to full-time Remote Staff – if you have a technological system that accommodates this, take advantage!

8 Review Hardware Update/create a master list of all hardware Think about computers, monitors, printers, scanners, backups, etc. List should include each computers configuration, printer and scanners capabilities, age, etc… Review with staff who use the equipment if the equipment is appropriate for them to complete their tasks Check internet speeds! Review system requirements for all software – each year! Download system requirement listings Check the master list to ensure each piece of hardware will support any software updates or changes – for each computer! All hardware should be not only above minimum requirements but should meet all recommended requirements.

9 Test Your Software Review each piece of software – every year! Ensure that tech support is what we hoped Completed the tasks that are required Price is appropriate for firm New staff need time to learn software Train new staff using easy dummy returns from the prior year Staff need to be comfortable with ALL pieces of software and how each piece of software does/does not integrate Experienced staff need to conduct training sessions with new staff to ensure that tips and tricks of the software are passed on Experienced staff need to update skills Experienced staff should complete a complex dummy return to ensure calculations and information flow and correct Test electronic filing capability (most vendors have this option)

10 Smooth Out the Work Take advantage of year-end tax planning Have your clients books 98% completed in December Know ahead of time what your clients situations will look like (so no surprises during tax season!) Like to extend? You will already know what needs to be paid! Talk to clients about extending before they HAVE to extend

11 Document Your Processes Uniformity is important Firms should always put out quality work All staff should understand importance of processes Documentation in case of emergency Do you have plans in place in case of loss of staff? Could someone come in and run your firm by looking at your process documentation? Are you covering yourself from a liability perspective by having everyone on the same quality control page? Documentation resolves conflicts Staff can at time differ in work product quality Different administrators process work differently Peer reviewers like to see work paper uniformity

12 Be In Your Happy Place Happy Staff, Happy Busy Season Stock up the office fridge with healthy snacks, caffeine, waters, etc… Three Day Weekend Saturday – Monday or Friday – Sunday Order out food for lunch or breakfasts Chair massages Regular weekly staff meetings Can be short and sweet Keep staff on alert of upcoming work and client needs More frequent communication will save work and time later! Post Tax Season Debrief Easy to forget; but really important to understand areas for improvement.

13 Think Long Term Do you have a succession plan in place? Think about internal versus external transition What is your time frame for transition? What type of firm do you have – tax heavy? Currently have a plan in place? AICPA JOA says that it takes 3-5 touches to successfully transition a client We may only see our clients once a year Using busy season contacts to introduce new staff/successors Not billable time, but worth it in the long run Build transition time into client meetings for tax-only clients

14 Be Proactive Form 2848 – Power of Attorney Have each client sign one along with their e-file paperwork 3 years out; 3 years back You will be completely in the loop with your clients and proactively respond to IRS stuff Helps with transcripts for those pesky extended returns and senior citizens Advance Scheduling Figure out what clients like to be on the calendar and schedule them in advance (call in January)

15 Questions? Feel free to contact us! Michael Elliott, CPA Jason Deshayes, CPA


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