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  1. How to get your practice ready for year-end
    Set up a client workflow
    Efficient time management in your practice is critical to success during year-end. Put together a checklist for each client that turns the required work each month into an easy to follow process. Having the following on hand for each client could save you countless hours:

    Business owner’s contact information
    Preferred method and time of communication
    Business ID numbers
    Software/delivery requirements
    Payment method
    Industry specific deadlines
    Arrange engagement letters
    This is a good time of year to review your engagement letters with your clients and get them to re-sign for next year. It’s an ideal time to secure future work because the value you have added recently to their business is fresh in their minds.

    If you have convinced your client to upgrade to new accounting technologies in the year coming, the new letter of engagement should reflect the use of new technologies with clauses in place to protect you from any external problems, such as a data breach. Even if it is out of your control, your clients might have expectations that since you recommended the migration you would be responsible.
    How to handle a backtrack
    Even if you’re organized throughout the year, occasionally you will have to walk your client back through some of the months gone by and work to fill any gaps. This is something that can happen more frequently if you have a client that checks in with you quarterly. The best way to soften any negative impact of missing files is to consult your checklist each month/quarter and take note of files that your clients haven’t sent. In a perfect world, you will tell your client straight away what you are missing and they would correct this. Worst case scenario, you have to chase them but at least you know what it is you are missing, as opposed to a needle in a hay stack situation, come December.

    How to get your clients ready for year-end
    Begin at the start of the year
    It almost goes without saying that the best way to plan for a smooth year-end is to plan early, start off on the right foot, and deliver consistent service to your clients throughout the year.

    This involves making sure each month your clients’ books are reconciled. It’s up to you to make sure that the books are clean and that you’ve gotten all the information that you need from each client.

    Top tip: Put together a bookkeeping checklist for your clients that makes it easy for them to know what to give you every month. This is particularly helpful for businesses that don’t have an accountant or bookkeeper on staff.

    By starting the way you want to end, you can avoid back tracking in December trying to see where the gaps are for the whole year.

    Establish clear client communication
    Year-end can also be one of those times that bookkeepers and accountants can prove to clients that they add value to their business. With this in mind it’s important to understand each client’s expectations of you throughout the year. This can be as simple as knowing what time of the month they wish to have their documents delivered, or correspondence replied to, but sometimes the expectations can be more custom or complex.

    For example, maybe your client likes a summary of all the work you are doing every month, or perhaps they like you to correspond with an in-house accountant. Have you established a mutually agreed SLA that you can deliver? Do they prefer minimal contact? Are they just concerned with getting their taxes filed or are they looking for some insight and some best practice advice along the way?

    Once again, this is something that you should establish before you take the client on so that you can make sure that you are a good fit for each other and you can deliver satisfactory service throughout the year.

    Use cloud accounting software
    One of the big problems at year-end is that’s it’s a regular business month too! Your clients still have the same requests as they would in November. By on-boarding your clients to a cloud accounting solution you can reduce the pressure of requests at crunch times throughout the year. Your clients benefit from having real-time access to their accounts, enabling them to retrieve information from the cloud unaided by an accountant or bookkeeper. This allows you to focus on getting the year-end organized.

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