Summertime and the livin' is easy … That famous song line can have a familiar ring to many CPA firms this time of year. So why is it that we can't get work done and out the door? Daylight expanded, but so has the work in progress. That wasn't the plan was it?
"The Big Push," may bring to mind those extremely busy weeks before March 15 or April 15, but I'm really referring to the big push to place as many clients as possible on extension in an effort to level out the work, reduce the crunch at the deadline and more fully utilize staff during the summer months. At least that's the theory, right? Yet here we are nearing the end of the summer and many of the returns we pushed seem to have lost inertia and are sitting, just waiting for someone to finally get around to working on them. The reality for some firms is that the big push just creates an even bigger crunch at the extension deadlines.
Importance of Deadlines
We are deadline-driven people. When the deadline looms we don't just see it coming and know that it is there, but we can feel it. It motivates us to action and keeps us working on all cylinders until we can finally relax and coast. But don't get the wrong idea. Level-loading the work is a basic tenet of Lean. Working at or above capacity creates more issues than just burn out. Therefore we commonly advocate and encourage our CPA firm clients to put their clientele, who are habitual extenders, on extension and to do so as early in January or February. This will enable you to get these returns out of the volume that need to be filed by the deadline. Notice, however, that I didn't say we encourage them to place as many returns as possible on extension.
The reality for many of our business and individual clients and for our business is that value-driven service equates to a tax return that is filed by the deadline and not placed on extension. We need to analyze our capacity and work with or manage our clients to get us their information timely and in the form we need to deliver the excellent service that they value. This is also true for those clients we do place on extension. Do our clients value us not working on their return until the extension deadline? Of course not. We should put the prior year to bed as soon as possible and focus on planning opportunities (a.k.a. value) for this current calendar/next filing year.
Here are some recommendations out of the Lean Six Sigma playbook:
Summer affords us the capacity of time. Let's use that time to remain business-focused and profit-driven. In your "free" time, undertake an initiative to become more operationally efficient so that you can become more effective business consultants to your clients. To learn more, contact us today!