From XU Magazine, 
Issue 23

Everything you should be doing for your clients right now

With the US tax deadlines pushed back to July this year, your focus may now be on tax prep, but there’s a lot more that your clients may need from their accountant, especially right now. Every month, we help over 10,000 small businesses with payroll, HR, and benefits. As a result, we’ve gained some insights over the years after seeing many of their triumphs and challenges up close.

Were’s a deeper look at what your clients may want from you and how serving them well can help grow your practice

The clock is ticking for many small businesses

About 10 weeks ago, the National Federation of Independent Businesses published a study that discovered half of small business owners didn’t think they couldn’t continue operating for more than two months under lockdown conditions. Another third of business owners also said they could remain operational for three to six months.

While business conditions have evolved since then — and will continue to outside of these extreme conditions — many business owners are making big decisions about how to keep their companies running.

With the insights accountants have into their clients’ businesses, you’re able to help them plan for the unknown, rebound after a crisis, or even spot risks before they emerge. Your expert advice is more important than ever to your clients right now.

Clients expect more help from you

In our survey last year, we asked business owners who they’d be most likely to turn to for a wide range of business advice. The results?

  • Accountants (32 percent)
  • Friends and family (22 percent)
  • Lawyers (16 percent)
  • Financial Planners (9 percent)
  • A small number of bankers, insurance agents, and others

It’s good news that clients value their accountants so much. The flip side is that they often expect more help from their accountants than they get. In short, they trust you, and they would like your help with more than traditional accounting, bookkeeping, and tax services. They also expected help with the following (see Fig. 1).

Your opportunity to make a difference

With the frequent changes to tax laws, government loan programs, and what’s required of employers, it can be a struggle for small business owners to keep up. Now that many are also even more focused on cash flow, they may be hoping their accountant can step up and help. Whether you’re providing regular updates on important government programs or helping them analyze their cash flow to make financing decisions, they need your expertise now more than ever.

Here are some of the best ways for accountants to help small business owners (and expand service offering in the process).

Stay on top of new laws and government programs

From Paycheck Protection Plan loans to CARES Act tax credits to paid leave under the FFCRA, there are a lot of emerging details for small business owners to process. Breaking it all down is something that you could easily be doing that will both help them both take a load off — and help them take advantage of the assistance that’s available. If you need help keeping up with it all yourself, the IRS, Department of Labor, and Small Business Administration are excellent resources for ongoing updates and those related to COVID-19. OnPay also has a regularly updated COVID-19 Resource Center where you can dig into the latest details and find links and PDFs to share with clients.

Take payroll and HR off their shoulders

The average small business spends 18 hours a month on payroll — and another 18 hours on HR tasks. That’s almost a week each month. Give clients more time by offering to pair them with a payroll solution. Our clients spend fewer than three hours a month on payroll on average, and they’re likely saving money, too.

Payroll services vary with different providers but, as an example, OnPay also handles all the tax filings and offers a tax accuracy guarantee, which means you’ll be able to provide a time-saving service, without adding more to-dos to your own list.

Analyze cash flow

This is a critical time to keep an eye on the numbers, and every dollar counts. When it comes to cash flow, it’s a critical time to keep an eye on the numbers and provide an outside perspective on financial decisions.

Whether a business is looking to understand how long its cash will last, project future revenues, or look for the best ways to cut costs, an experienced and unbiased opinion can make a big difference. You can help identify opportunities — like potential financing options or renegotiating debt or leases — and help back up those decisions with data.

Remove inefficiencies from their back office

As someone who understands the capabilities of Xero and other modern accounting software, you’re in a great position to help them identify and adopt solutions that will save time and money. It could even drive some revenue in the process.

Getting payroll data straight into the GL is one quick win, but you can also look to help them with AP/AR software, expense tracking, time tracking, CRM, or point of sale systems. Take a look inside the Xero App Marketplace for connected software options to maximize efficiencies.

Now it’s your move

How do you take the next step? Just call or email your clients.

Even if you’re not talking with your clients on a regular basis, they’re likely to appreciate having a conversation about how they’re doing and how you can help. Accountants who speak to clients more frequently are about a third more likely to be seen as a trusted advisor. And there’s a decent chance you’ll be talking to them about services they’ve been expecting from you all along.

So, reach out to your clients — and let us know if there’s anything we can do to help.

Why leave it there?

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