Sunday, May 13, 2012

5 Tips for a Less Stressful Busy Season

A good deal of CPAs develop a range of feelings about those crazy months leading up to April 15. They appreciate the hefty revenue that's part of the deal, which can support their practice for the rest of the year. Regrettably, too many ignore their accountant websites and other important aspects of the firm for months on end, and they completely give up on staying healthy. In spite of the extra money it brings, ironically, busy season can sink an accounting practice.

Check out how shrewd accountants maximize the profits of busy season while minimizing the stress:

1. They Invest in accountant websites That Do the Grunt Work for Them

During busy season, time is money. Taking precious time to file paper returns and fix broken printers slows accountants down - and ultimately equals less revenue.

To cut down on needless waste, smart CPA firms choose accountant websites that are loaded with time-saving tools and features. The following website features take care of a lot of the grunt work that can slow down a CPA during busy season:

- Secure file exchange

- Electronic tax prep forms

- PayPal or another credit card processing program

- Automated newsletter

- Frequently asked questions page

- Map and driving directions

2. They Update Their Accountant Websites BEFORE Busy Season Hits

One of the greatest contributors to stress is a disorganized work space. Paper piles and file stacks can easily overwhelm desks and surrounding areas when work load is at its peak. Important documents can get lost in clutter mountains leading to angry clients.

Accountants who prepare for busy season before the first of the year are more relaxed and more effective in their client work. These CPAs get their accountant websites all set to go, clean off their desks, and generally declutter their space. And they're careful to "hibernate" any projects that can wait until after April 15th by placing them out of the way where they won't add to the general chaos.

Once work starts coming in, it helps to spend a couple minutes at the end of every day to tidy up the office. Folks who do this report feeling empowered and well-prepared for the next day.

3. They Let Go of Dead Weight

All accountants have clients who trigger ulcers when they walk through the door. They complain, haggle over fees, even leave nasty comments on firms' accountant websites.

It may be hard to do, but it's okay to fire obnoxious clients, and smart CPAs terminate these relationships. The time accountants waste dealing with these troublemakers is better spent working with the clients who are easy and problem free.

4. They Know When to Ask for Help

Think of all the time-consuming, administrative tasks accountants perform each day: e-mail, processing and filing returns, updating their accountant websites, sending out client reminders, answering phone calls, etc. Wouldn't it save time to hand all this off to someone else?

Busy season is the perfect time to hire interns. Many interns are fresh from schooling and more than happy to get real-life office experience. It's a win-win situation that can greatly diminish CPAs' workload.

5. They Aren't Married to the Job

During busy season, many accountants work 10, 12, 14 hours a day - or more. But not all of them. The most successful CPAs set boundaries for themselves.

Take a page from their playbook. Instead of burning the candle at both ends, set a fixed time at the end of the day when you power down your computer and go home no matter what. A few more hours of sleep will greatly enhance your mood and boost your efficiency.

And remember to tell your clients that you can't work miracles. They should know that they MUST hand in their materials by a particular date or you'll be filing for an extension on their behalf. End of story. Don't let a client's procrastination be the cause of a panicked rush on April 14th.

This year, try out some of these tips - and most important of all, make your health and well-being a priority. Once a week, forget about accountant websites, tax organizers, and dissatisfied clients - and relax. Go to a some live music, draw a bubble bath, or make a date with your pals. When you do, you - and your practice - will come out of the busy season much better off!

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