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Expert Answers to Biz Questions

Listen in! Pick up some expert advice to a reader's question that we selected from CyberSchmooz.

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The Biz Question

I'm trying to start a bookkeeping business and I need to target some accounting firms in my area to see if they have any clients they can pass on to me (as they should be pretty busy, it being tax time soon). Can anyone help me to do a target letter as I'm really bad with words? Thanks.

Answer from our Guest Expert Lillyvette Montalvo

Hi, There!

I'll tackle your target letter request here, but I wanted to make a few comments on the timing of your letters before diving into that discussion. Even though you wish to contact these prospects at tax time -- when you'd think they'd be desperate for extra help -- the truth is the CPA firms are totally swamped and stressed. They won't have (or take) the time to meet with bookkeepers and others, such as yourself, even though you could assist them with various services for their clients.

So rather than trying to compete with the busy, stressful tax season, try to establish your CPA contacts months in advance, when they're more readily available to read your target letter and take your follow-up calls. By contacting them at a slacker time, you'll find a friendlier, more relaxed response to your queries about meetings and prospects.

You can certainly get a brief letter or post card out to CPA firms just before and during tax time, but I wouldn't expect a ton of phone calls as a result. I wanted to mention this timing issue so you won't be disappointed if clients don't overwhelm your office and bang down your doors for your excellent service.

Use a Quick Note When It's Tax Time

So for the quick contact at tax season, try a target post card rather than letter. Make it short and sweet. Have your logo and business name on top and write something like this on the card:

Dear (Name):

Is this tax season driving your computer and calculator into the overload mode? Are you looking for a breather? Have an accounting professional assist your clients with bookkeeping services!

(Your business name here) can assist you by providing the continued quality service you always provide your clients.

For High Quality Bookkeeping Services, Call Us Today!

(Place your phone number here in bold.)

A Target Letter for Future Use

Here's a longer version for you to use as a guide once the tax season frenzy is over.

Dear (Name):

When it's tax time or fiscal year-end, does your computer and calculator go into overdrive? Well, if you're looking for a breather during those hectic times, I'm ready and able to help you lighten your work load.

My company, _______________________, has more than ____ years of bookkeeping and financial experience and is looking to network with established accounting firms for prospective client work. My expertise is in working with _______________________.

Your company would benefit from my dependable and professional services because I can help you meet deadlines quicker and reduce overall stress in the office during peak times.

If you'd like to learn more about my services and background, please call me at _______________ , email me at ________________________, or visit my website at _______________.

I look forward to hearing from you. Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,

Your Name/Business

After a few days, it certainly doesn't hurt to follow up with a phone call regarding this letter. Just call to see if they received the letter. Most will give you immediate feedback on whether or not they are interested in your services or placing you on their referral list.

Prepare for Next Tax Season

Once tax season is over, the best way to develop these area contacts in a slower-paced setting is to either join an active local Chamber of Commerce and connect with all of the CPAs or attend CPA activities in your area. Check your newspaper's business calendar for any of these events occurring in your area. Network with corporate attorneys (preferably smaller firms) since they advise clients on CPA firms. Many legal firms work closely with CPA firms, so that gives added validity to this last suggestion.

The best thing to do is make yourself known in the business community. Network and market yourself in a very positive and professional manner. Remember that you do not have to do that with expensive advertising. Target marketing can be done without crunching your wallet. Take advantage of your local business journal; Chamber of Commerce events (even as a guest -- make sure you'll be in the right Chamber by visiting a few times); other professional organizations and networking clubs.

By doing some of these networking and marketing strategies, you can get your name known in your area and be ready for the next tax season! Maybe at that time, you'll have many CPAs making referrals to you and have tons of people knocking at your door to get your services!

Best of success to you!

Lillyvette Montalvo

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