Christmas Gifts as a Marketing Tool

It’s probably stressful to consider giving your clients a Christmas gift right now.  But what if we told you that not only would it remind them of your valuable services, but it would also work as an incredible marketing tool that could increase your profitability in the long run. 

In a guest post to the US Small Business Administration’s website, author and president of GrowBiz Media Rieva Lesonsky shares “6 Ideas to Turn Your Customer Holiday Gifts into a Marketing Tool.”  Here we expound on four of her tips:

1. Give what you make or sell.  This is not only a great way to retain clients, but a good method for securing new ones.  Run a special promotion where one referral and the person who referred them can receive a free consultation or financial assessment.  This demonstrates just how valuable your services are.

2. Deliver your gifts by hand.  One of the reasons to give clients holiday gifts is because it’s a great opportunity to remind them of your valuable services.  Delivering them by hand allows you to give them a personalized greeting which demonstrates a genuine interest in their wellbeing.  And because tax season is just around the corner, now is the perfect time to reintroduce yourself to them and their businesses.

3. Give the gift of time.  Instead of giving them a physical gift, consider inviting a handful of clients to lunch.  Perhaps they share common interests and this provides them with the chance to build strategic partnerships with other small-business owners in your community

4. Give the gift of information.  We often talk about the importance of sharing valuable financial advice with your clients that can help them improve their businesses.  Consider a holiday newsletter where you share helpful year end tips that will better prepare them for the upcoming tax season.  Or, as Lesonsky suggests, “A business book or magazine subscription that’s relevant to your client’s industry, challenges and interests shows you put some thought into what will help her get ahead in the coming year.”

We understand that in December you are extremely busy with your own year-end, but you can target current and prospective clients now with holiday wishes that can enhance your practice.  Take the time to reach out and send personalized greetings before things get too hectic.

Other Ways to Enhance Your Marketing Efforts

If you’re looking for training to help you market your practice effectively, the Universal Practice Builder (UPB) Program is the course for you.  Also called Marketing on Steroids, this course was designed by our own growth specialists who know not only how to market your specialized financial services, but how to market them effectively to qualified, prospective clients.

The UPB program provides the following:

  • Flexibility You complete the course on your own time and pace.  And the online instructive enables you to return to key concepts and instruction as necessary.
  • Complete education.  This comprehensive training program will give you everything you need to build a thriving practice.
  • A qualified professional to answer questions.  For six months you will have access to our professional coaches for personal, professional guidance via phone or email.

The Universal Practice Builder Program will equip you with all the tools you need to grow your business.  If you find yourself lacking key marketing know-how, call Universal at 1-877-833-7909 to register for this phenomenal program today!!

Resource

Lesonsky, Rieva.  “6 Ideas to Turn Your Customer Holiday Gifts into a Marketing Tool.”   3 December 2013 SBA.gov

The IRS Helps Americans Plan for Retirement

The IRS is interested in helping Americans save for the future and has taken time to create some guidance that will enable taxpayers to better choose a retirement plan that suits their unique needs.

In a March 21, 2012 press release, the IRS detailed four ways they are helping Americans put their savings to better use:

  1. Automatic enrollment.  The Treasury and IRS have issued more information on their retirement and savings initiatives which enable 401(k) plan sponsors to include automatic contribution increases.  To help with this, the IRS provides sample automatic enrollment plan language and guidance to interested employers and other plan sponsors.  For more information, visit the IRS.gov.
  2. Receive tax refunds as US Savings Bonds.  While you and your clients may have received your tax refund weeks ago, it’s good to remember that IRS has enables taxpayers to buy up to $5000 in US Series I Savings Bonds with their income tax refunds.
  3. Save payments that would be received for unused vacation or similar leave.  There are some employees that can choose to receive cash payments for unused vacation, etc. when they quit or even in the duration of their employment.  These cash payments can be used as contributions to retirement plans for which the Treasury and IRS have issued guidance.  Learn more here and here at IRS.gov.
  4. Roll over retirement distributions into IRAs or other plans.  The press release explains, “A key risk to lifetime savings is when an employee spends his or her lump sum payment, instead of electing to roll over the payment to an IRA or other retirement plan.”  The IRS refers to Notice 2009-68 in explaining how the rollover option works.

It’s important that you understand all the retirement options available, not only so that you can prepare for your own comfortable retirement, but so that you can help your clients do the same.

Universal Accounting Helps Tax Preparers Succeed

At Universal, we believe it’s important to prepare for the future, and we’re interested in seeing your future success as a tax preparer. Our online tax training, the Professional Tax Preparer Program, is designed to help professionals like you master tax preparation, become efficient in the completion of individual and business returns, and establish thriving home-based tax businesses.  If you would like to learn more, visit Universal for a free video today!

4 Questions for Budding Entrepreneurs


Closeup portrait of a happy young businesswoman isolated on white backgroundStarting your own financial practice can be terrifying and exciting at the same time.  There are lots of pros in self-employment: the flexibility to work when you want and on the projects you want to work on, the potential to uncap your salary, and the ability to wake every morning to a job you love. 

But you aren’t being realistic if you don’t consider the cons as well. Unfortunately, it’s the cons that can cause any reasonable professional to hesitate a bit.  But you can be practical about starting your own firm while preparing for potential obstacles if you just ask yourself the right questions.

In a recent Entrepreneur.com article, author and professional coach Lindsay Broder shares “6 Questions to Help Unleash Your Inner Entrepreneur.”  Here we share 4 of her questions:

1. Do you believe anything is possible?  You must have the confidence that anything can happen with a little determination and perseverance.  And sometimes that comes in acting upon your dream.  However, if you’re at all hesitant, you can keep your day job while working your business on the side.  After some time you will built up the assurance that success is achievable.

2. What’s your purpose?  Ask yourself what you hope to achieve as an entrepreneur. If you’re just interested in bossing people around or becoming filthy rich, this probably isn’t the path for you.  But if you’re passionate about a purpose—your practice’s mission—than that can carry you through a lot of difficult times.

3. How willing are you to market yourself?  Not many financial professionals get jazzed about marketing their practices, but neglecting this key function causes many businesses to fail.  You must be willing to step outside your comfort zone and let people know how your services can improve their lives.

4. Do you believe you’re capable?  When you have the confidence that your skillset can handle any potential obstacle or problem, you exude a sense of expertise that puts potential clients at ease.  As Broder explains, “Believing in what you’re doing and believing you’re capable are two key ingredients for selling your business to the consumer. If you lack either, dig deeper to figure out if it’s lack of confidence in your business or a lack of confidence in yourself.”

Universal’s Training Programs Can You Launch a Profitable Accounting Practice

Startup costs for an accounting practice are minimal.  You can begin part-time and work from home.  In a market pining for accountants and bookkeepers, you’ll quickly build the client base that will allow you to work full-time and enjoy the lifestyle of which you’ve always dreamed.

The Professional Bookkeeper Program

If you need to increase your skillset, consider the Professional Bookkeeper Program which will train you in the practical application of small-business accounting, while enabling you to earn a professional designation, which demonstrates your expertise and true professionalism.  Not only that, but the PB Program will also train you to market your practice, eliminating the competition because of the unique and valuable services you offer clients.

The Universal Practice Builder Program

If you need help developing solid marketing techniques, the Universal Practice Builder Workshop will train you how to promote your practice effectively.  Imagine all that you could learn from our experience training thousands of individuals like you!

This program offers the following:

  • $30,000 in new annualized billings in only 12 months
  • Tactical goal planning and setting
  • The generation of 15 to 25 qualified leads per month
  • Phone marketing instruction and training
  • Training in the benefits of newsletters and websites
  • 12 proven marketing strategies
  • Financing options 

 We’re in the business of seeing individuals like you successfully launch and/or grow their own accounting and tax practices.  But don’t take our word for it.  Read from the many testimonials we have received from students, thanking us for the training that has helped them gain the knowledge, skill and confidence necessary to earn promotions, start their practices, and/or secure more clients.  Enroll in these powerful programs today by calling 1-877-833-7909.

Resource

Broder, Lindsay.  “6 Questions to Help Unleash Your Inner Entrepreneur.” 20 February 2014 Entrepreneur.com

Closing the Deal (Part Two of a Two-Part Series)

6 Steps for Turning Prospective Clients into Current Clients

You’ve made a good first impression and now you want to deliver your sales pitch and seal the deal. That may be easier said than done. But when you attend to the client’s needs and follow 6 simple steps, it can happen, and quite possibly, before the bill arrives.

1. Arrive early

It’s important that you properly set up your meeting. Most sales pitches are delivered over a meal; it’s a great way to lure prospective clients from their own businesses in order to discuss your services. In that case, you should ensure the restaurant is aware that your reservation is for a business breakfast, lunch or dinner. Give them your card before the clients arrive in order to avoid that awkward moment when the bill is presented. You can also determine seating at this time, which is important when meeting with more than one prospective client.

2. Build your professional relationship

Set the meeting’s tone by getting to know the client better before jumping into your pitch. Ask questions and listen to their answers. Just about everyone likes to talk about themselves, their families, their businesses, and even the weather. Exhibit genuine interest in your client’s life and you’re sure to build a solid base for your professional relationship.

3. Time your pitch

You want to avoid interruption and ensure adequate time to deliver your pitch. If you’re having breakfast, you don’t have much time and will want to start fairly soon. Lunch appointments are a little longer and you should wait until everyone orders before you start. Dinner appointments are the most leisurely and you should wait until everyone has finished their entre before you start talking business.

4. Ask the right questions

It’s important that you determine your prospective client’s needs. What are their current accounting needs? Do they already have an accountant? Are they satisfied with their current accountant? What services would they find most beneficial? The more you learn about their business and corresponding accounting needs the better equipped you’ll be to cater your pitch to align with their business objectives.

5. Emphasize benefits

Before you even practice your pitch try to take on your prospective client’s perspective. What would they most want from an accountant? While you probably offer everything from standard bookkeeping to payroll services, the client is more interested in how those services will benefit their business. It’s much more appealing to hear that you’ll help them cut costs and increase profits than it is to know that you can manage their accounts payable and accounts receivable.

6. Listen to and answer questions

This step is often overlooked. We can be so focused on delivering our pitch that we forget to listen to our prospective client’s questions and thoughtfully answer them. This will help you best determine what their deeper concerns might be. Often this is where the deal is sealed as the client comes to realize that you’re genuinely interested in what is best for their business.

Enhancing Your Sales PitchYou’ll be better equipped to seal the deal when you have a professional designation to back your experience and expertise. Not to mention, when you receive training in small business accounting, you will enhance your service offerings and become a full-service financial provider! What client wouldn’t want their tax preparer to become a one-stop shop for their financial needs?And when you enroll in Universal’s Professional Bookkeeper Program, you learn how to become a client’s Profit Expert, enabling you to contribute to a client’s profitability – a skill that makes your services invaluable. Imagine how that will enhance your sales pitch!Get started today! UAC has been training professionals like you for over 25 years. Benefit from our experience and expertise. Enroll now and gain the skills and confidence necessary to secure more clients and seal countless deals!

Hiring Employees

Complying with IRS Regulations

When you begin the search for employees, you must ensure that you complete all the necessary documentation in order to comply with IRS regulations.  The following are three tasks you must complete before adding someone to your payroll:

1. Ensure Eligibility to Work in the US.  To verify an employee’s ability to work in the United States, require him/her to fill out IRS Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification.  This government form, provided by the office of US Citizenship and Immigration Services, enables employers to determine whether an individual is authorized to work in the states.

2. Secure Social Security Number.  In order to complete the W-2 form, you must secure each employee’s name and social security number (SSN).  You can make a copy of the card for your own records, although this documentation is not required.  The IRS website offers the following clarification: “Do not accept an ITIN in place of an SSN for employee identification or for work. An ITIN is only available to resident and nonresident aliens who are not eligible for U.S. employment and need identification for other tax purposes. You can identify an ITIN because it is a 9-digit number, beginning with the number “9″ and is formatted like an SSN (NNN-NN-NNN).”

3. Determine Employee’s Withholding.    Each employee must submit a W-4 form, Employee’s Withholding Allowance Certificate, which you must keep on file.  This is where employees state their filing status and withholding allowances which determine the amount of income tax withholding from their paychecks.  The submitted form remains on file until the employee replaces it with an updated W-4.  As declared by the IRS, “If employees claim exemption from income tax withholding, they must give you a new Form W-4 each year.”  The W-4 becomes effective with the first wage payment following form submission.

While you may be aware of these regulations, your clients may not be, and failure to comply can cost them in the long-run.  Consider providing them with a tip sheet that notes these three tasks, or refer them to the IRS website for more information.

Universal’s IRS-Approved Tax Training Will Help Meet IRS Regulations

Universal Accounting recently announced its approval as an IRS Continuing Education Provider, enabling individuals desiring to become Registered Tax Return Preparers to fulfill their CE requirements through Universal’s self-study and online tax courses.

The IRS oversees the approval of all CE providers.  Because Universal’s tax training was already recognized as a sponsor of Quality Assurance Service (QAS) self-study courses after meeting the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy’s (NASBA) rigorous standards, the Professional Tax Preparer program was easily adopted by the IRS. Universal is happy to join the ranks of IRS-approved Continuing Education Providers and is confident that their tax training will enable countless graduates to advance their careers in the finance industry.

If you would like to learn how the Professional Tax Program can enhance your career, call Universal Accounting at 1-877-833-7909.

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