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H&R Block Plans to Close 400 Tax Prep Offices

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On 6/17/2018 at 5:44 PM, Pacun said:

So, if you don't prepare business returns, it is time to start taking some classes and start diving into that market. That market seems to be solid and it will always be.

Yup this is why I am always looking for new business clients. Since I am already preparing their business returns, they almost always just have me prepare their personal returns (and if lucky, any other shareholders'/partners'/members' returns) and then our real bread and butter is the write-up work they provide throughout the year (usually on a monthly or quarterly basis).

When I first started out, I found that charging slightly higher than usual fees for small personal 'I need my refund ASAP' returns and lower than usual fees for more difficult personal or business returns helped me to weed out the more unreliable client and build a client base that tended to remain loyal, didn't just shop around looking for lower fees and faster refunds, and understood when I had to impose 'reasonable' fee increases from time to time. They also tend to have much more lucrative associates and clients for referrals. 

Note: if you are thinking about or already trying to obtain more business clients, look into professional networking groups in your area. Once we found the right group (professionally run, formal and serious but still fun, and allows only one member from each type of business, i.e. one accountant, one lawyer, one investment advisor, one plumbing contractor, etc.), we probably tripled our business clientele within a few years.  

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I am getting quite a few new clients this year.  We don't take many new clients because we have more work than we can handle, but we do get some referrals from attorneys, financial advisors, and good clients and take them because we don't want to disappoint.  Most of these new people tell me that their previous accountant retired.  With all the changes from the TCJA, I am not surprised!

One way to secure your business is to find a niche.  Tax law has gotten so complex that we were headed in this direction even before TCJA because no one could master it all.  Those who specialize in low-income, EITC, rapid refund returns (like Block, who used to be "America's tax return preparer" and then changed its business model in this direction, and now sees the writing on the wall and is changing back) will see business drop off.  I do a lot of trust and estate returns, and that business isn't going anywhere.  Yet when I get a person with anything but a standard type of visa, I refer him or her to someone who knows a lot more about that area than I do.   We each have to think about what area of tax we like, learn more about it, and become that kind of preparer in the future.  Anyone wild about cryptocurrencies? 

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12 hours ago, SaraEA said:

Anyone wild about cryptocurrencies?

THAT subset has gotten easier since the invention of the online services/utilities that track basis and create reports.  I have one client who can send me an importable csv file, another whose software spits out a properly sub-totaled report that we can append as a pdf like we can do with brokerage statements.  They also like that they're not paying ME to calculate gain on every frimping latte they bought with crypto all year long.

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