My friend Sam, a tax accountant and one of the first beta customers who used TimeQ to set more client appointments.
Sam built a solid tax practice, his numbers this year for 2015 tax return filings were: “270 – 1040s, with a third of those having some schedule C or E attached, 25 – 1120’s, 48 – 1120S’s and a few dozens other types of returns”.
Sam is typically a social guy, but getting any time with him from February through April is impossible. Forget friends, his wife equates those three months to his days in the Navy, when Sam went away for deployments. Only now, instead of heading out to the Gulf, this is an annual “deployment” to the office.
Most of his customers believe that they can call him at the beginning of April and he will surely have plenty of time before the IRS deadline to take care of their return. According to Sam, this insanity repeats year after year, and no amount of pleading, threatening and begging his customers to schedule ahead has been successful. So Sam falls victim to the lack of planning and does triple time to get things done on time.
Happy customers are referring their friends to him. As a business owner, this is a great problem to have, but for Sam, this just aggravates the problem means more of the last minute filings and less time for everything else.
The need for coordination and allocation of Sam’s time made him an ideal candidate for trying out TimeQ.
Based on filed 2015 returns, Sam segmented his clients into groups, then setup TimeQ virtual calendars with scheduling rules for each calendar to be targeted to a particular group of customers. Sam emailed each client the link to the appropriate calendar.
Clients in need of planning, review, projections, exposed to potential effects of federal and state tax rate changes, received an email. The email contained a list of items for clients to act on, such as power of attorney, link to forms, timeframe reminders, instructions for obtaining W9 from contractors, and a link to Sam’s calendar asking them to schedule time with Sam. The calendar link took them to a calendar especially configured with rules and timeframes, the available appointments ran from now through Dec 16 (Sam and his family were planning a winter vacation after that).
Since the calendar was connected to Sam’s personal calendar, the times he reserved for himself and family were blocked off from booking and appeared busy, leaving real-time availability for the customer calls and meetings.
To encourage planning, Sam drafted three messages, and those who did not take action on the first email, received two additional follow up’s, ending with a phone call. 75% of those contacted, scheduled time on their own, by visiting the calendar after the 2nd message.
Nex, Sam created two tax return appointments calendars each with its own settings. Clients with personal tax returns received a link to a calendar with appointment blocks of 30 min or 1 hour. Business clients received a link to a calendar with appointment blocks of 1 hour to 3 hours. First available appointment for the personal tax return and certain corporate clients started in January and went to the 2nd week of April corresponding with deadlines for filing Forms 1040, 1041 and 1120 while other business clients, received a link to a calendar which started in February and ended on March 15th. Corresponding with the March 15th deadline for forms 1065 and 1120S.
Sam’s experiment for this year is in progress. At the time of this writing in late November, we asked Sam for the feedback. Here is what he said:
“The customers were very happy when I send them the email with a list and links to book me. They loved that could see the when I was available and choose the appointment times that worked for them on their own. My wife was happiest of all! So far I kept and did not reschedule any family time I committed to.”
I asked Sam for the numbers for people scheduling tax appointments in 2017. He reached out to approximately 500 customers, all of the ones from this year and some that seem to have fallen off in past years. Here is his feedback as of last week of November.
“About a third of my clients from this year, already scheduled their appointments for Feb, Mar, and April. Surprisingly 4 of the previous year’s customers, booked as well. One customer said that when he first looked at a schedule, it was pretty empty, so he waited for a week, and when he went to book, the time he originally wanted was no longer available. This got him to hustle and schedule right away. I think the fuller my calendar gets, and people see it, it nudges the procrastinators to take action. I did block off some catch-up time here and there, just in case, but this is looking really good so far”.
Our goal is to make the best online scheduling app for the soloprenuer professional. Our customers, like Sam, give us great feedback which we incorporate straight into the product. For example thanks to his feedback we made the virtual calendar available appointment start and stop windows easy to make and book.
Best case scenario, TimeQ will make Sam’s 2016 tax returns year go smooth and will help him get and keep more business. We will let you know how it goes. Don’t procrastinate, try TimeQ, it is Free for our public beta clients, and we want to help make your success story!