Whether or not you use dedicated practice management software, putting in place the right processes can transform a practice, from struggling to highly successful. With some practice management software, many of these processes can even be automated.
With the increasing burden of compliance for accountancy firms, effective workflow is more important than ever in making practices run efficiently — and it offers opportunities for significant business growth.
The benefits of refining your workflow
Standardising the onboarding process
Onboarding can set your clients’ expectations and get your relationship off to a great start. To make sure that the service you provide is always consistently good, think about what you do every time you take on a brand new client.
Wherever you spot something that you have to do for every new client — such as setting them up on your CRM, and sending them a terms of engagement letter — make this an integral part of your workflow. And you don’t have to confine yourself to features in one package. Senta, for example, ties in with GoProposal, Practice Ignition and other onboarding tools you might use.
Don’t just think about the practical, legal aspects of this process, but also how you can help clients: some practices send useful information guides, and this can really make new clients feel valued.
Softer activities might include scheduling in a welcome call from the account manager, or a monthly catch-up to see if there’s anything you could be doing better.
Receiving client information earlier
The theme that recurred most frequently in the Senta user survey was, unsurprisingly, the difficulty in dealing with clients who send in the necessary information too close to tax return deadlines.
By scheduling communications to chase up clients earlier in the year, you can spread your workload, reduce stress, and meet deadlines more easily. If the majority of tax returns are filed well in advance of the deadline this leaves more time to deal with clients who do leave it to the last minute, as well as clients you’ve only recently acquired.
Some chase clients monthly from right after the previous tax return, whereas other practices start about halfway into the year.
Using software such as Senta you can schedule emails to go out at regular intervals throughout the year to chase up any clients who have not yet sent you the necessary information — perhaps highlighting any incentives you’re offering!
Automating your work
In a world of APIs and integrations, automating can seem out of reach, but it need not be. Linking software together using tools like Zapier can let you achieve almost magical levels of automation.
For example, at the appropriate moment in your jobs, Senta can call Zapier automatically and drop off information… and that can trigger actions in more than 1000 linked apps!
Eliciting useful client feedback
We’ve talked about using automated emails to onboard new clients and to chase up client tax returns, but these can also be used to streamline a multitude of other tasks — not least gaining important client feedback. Accountants critique their clients all the time, so why not reciprocate?
Feedback can give you an invaluable insight into your clients’ experience and how you can improve your service. Clients will appreciate the fact that you are listening — as long as you then follow up on this and implement changes.
Capturing information directly from clients
Senta is used for an impressively wide array of tasks including gathering useful information directly from clients.
For example, some practices ask their clients to fill in specific forms through the client portal, which can prove to be a real time-saver. You could ask “Have you received any second income?”, or “Have you made any charitable contributions?” — and capture the specifics if they answer “yes”.
Developing your business
The whole point of refining your workflow is to grow your business. So that no opportunities slip away, you can incorporate ways of recording and managing leads, and perhaps even automating requests for referrals.
Adding more of a human touch to your service could encourage a higher number of referrals. Where you think clients need a call, incorporate it into the workflow. And if you think they might like to hear news from you (such as an automated confirmation by text message when compliance work is completed), factor that in, too — clients love showing off about how great their accountants are, and this kind of activity could lead to loyalty and referrals.
By focusing on improving your practice’s workflow, and really maximising the potential of software such as Senta to manage repeatable tasks and communications, you can free up a lot of time that can then be spent finding and taking on new clients, and growing your business.
- When figuring out the “perfect” workflow, try to strike a healthy balance between thinking about the practical stuff and the all-important human element.
- Most firms offer similar services, so set yourself apart from the competition by delivering your service in a better way.
- Consider how automation can free you from the daily grind.
Your workflow, including your communication with clients, is central in giving you the edge over your competitors.