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Hitting the reset button in 2021

By Darren Root, CEO

I don’t know about you, but I feel like if there was ever a year to hit the reset button, it’s 2020! A painfully long tax season, keeping up with PPP changes, tracking forgiveness, keeping clients calm and moving forward—and all during a global pandemic. It’s been a lot…to say the least. 

The good news is that we made it through and that a whole new year is just around the corner. It’s never too early to plan for a better 2021, and the Rootworks team wants to help you get started now.

Four ways to reset

When I say “reset,” what I really mean is starting the new year with a whole new outlook on firm operations. For some of you, the following may be things you’re already doing and just want to enhance. For others, these may be brand new changes. Either way, there is something for everyone here, because we all know that firm improvement is never ending.

  1. Rise up to meet new client expectations—It’s a whole new world in terms of how we work with clients. The pandemic moved us away from in-person meetings to contactless modes of communication. Many clients prefer this way of working. So, what are you doing to meet this expectation? Are you using Zoom to conveniently meet with clients online? Is your website up to snuff? In other words, does your online platform (a better way to think of your website) provide access to clients’ everyday client accounting apps? Does it support online appointment scheduling, payments, signature capture and document collection? Think about all the things you can do to better meet client expectations in 2021.
  2. Move from reactive to proactive advising—Do you still wait for clients to come to you with their needs? If so, you likely operate within a reactive business model, which is less than appealing for both you and your clients. In 2021, resolve to be the advisor clients deserve. Actively analyze client data using ClientView™ to identify those in need of additional services and valuable advisory support. 2020 has been a tough year for so many small businesses; it’s your job as a trusted advisor to be proactive and support them before they have to ask.
  3. Connect your front and back office—If you’re still working within the traditional software suite, this is the year to break free from it. There are so many powerful cloud-based applications that work seamlessly together that it’s easy to connect every aspect of your firm—front to back. On the back-office side, connect all your hosted compliance solutions. For front-office tasks, start with a website that serves as your communications hub, connecting content, social media channels, document management, practice management, client products and so much more. 
  4. Build an irresistible culture—Don’t get stuck in the traditions of the past. Culture is at the heart of everything these days. Firms with a positive culture attract the good staff and hang on to their ideal clients for the long-term. We witnessed the furious shift from on-site workdays to remote, and the votes are in…employees love working virtually. Don’t go back in time. Continue to build a strong, connected remote workplace. Trust that this will help you build a culture that is irresistible.

Get more at this year’s virtual Inspire Conference

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Inspire and all the good content waiting for you there. In addition to addressing the four elements of firm reset above, you and your staff will get insight and expert direction on so many other topics focused on helping your firm excel. You’ll hear from several Rootworks team members on topics ranging from how to boost your Google ranking and using content to convert clients to productizing services and building a profit center with bookkeeping.

While our team will miss seeing everyone in person, coming to you virtually means we are able to deliver more content than ever before. In fact, we have more than 20 sessions ready to roll. Now, let’s start preparing for 2021—together. 

P.S. If you haven’t registered for Inspire yet, it’s not too late! Register now.

Year-end client newsletter recommendations

 By Anna, Education Team

Congratulations on surviving the October tax deadline! I think it’s safe to say this: “Thank goodness it’s over!” After taking a moment to pause, it’s time to tackle the year end, and we’re here to remind you about external communication.

Many firms use the time between October 15 and December 31 to communicate with clients. At Rootworks, we believe in over communicating to ensure clients receive at least part of critical messages….even if they don’t read them in entirety. So, let us cover some of the recommendations around creating a year-end newsletter. 

  • Use a tool like Constant Contact or MailChimp to easily send electronic communication to a group of clients.
  • Kick off with a celebration!
    • Announce how many returns you completed this year, how many businesses you helped with PPP loans, etc.—whatever you may be most proud of accomplishing with your team this year.
  • Briefly announce a few changes clients can expect going into next year, but only mention about three to five announcements (below are some examples):
    • Based on popular requests, we have worked hard to consolidate our most popular services into flat-fee packages. Expect to hear more….
    • We are now taking a team approach to the work we provide. To serve you in a more timely manner, please use our new info@firm.com email address with any questions or concerns; you can also expect us to reply using this email address.
    • We have loved meeting with you during your tax appointments, but for your safety and ours, going forward we will ask you to drop off/mail in/upload your source documents. Keep an eye out for our tax letter and organizer/questionnaire for additional details.
    • To better advise you throughout the year, we will be including a “Peace of Mind” service (aka audit protection) with each tax return.  This fee is collected and held in the case that you should be audited or have your identity stolen. You can expect us to assist you without additional charge if you accept this service.
    • Going forward all meetings will be held using our video conferencing software [insert name here]; we look forward to introducing you to this new platform!
    • We’ve heard you and we’ve listened! This year, instead of a long, intense organizer, you will receive a letter and a two-page questionnaire to help you get organized for your tax preparation.
    • In reviewing our services, we realize that we’ve been undervaluing what our firm provides. You can expect to see fee increases between X%-XX%.
  • End with excitement! Include something about the firm, an inspirational quote, whatever feels good to you.

The last months of the year are always exciting. We look forward to seeing your firm seize the moment and emerge ready for the new year!

Shocking report on MS Office MFA

By Chris Dickens, IT

If I were to poll our members with the following question, I imagine that 100 percent of respondents would answer Yes

Should Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) be enabled on your Office 365 or GSuite email user accounts?

That’s what is so shocking about a recent study by CoreView that found only 3 percent of Office 365 users do not have MFA turned on for their account, and that only 22 percent of administrator accounts had MFA turned on. Those are not typos. 

A couple years ago, a Rootworks member was compromised by someone breaking into their Office 365 admin account and locking their entire staff out of their email. They did not have MFA turned on. This happened mere weeks after sitting in one of our Indianapolis firm retreats and hearing the message that was presented in that retreat on security. Part of that message was that turning on MFA on any service that supports it was one action you could take now that produced the greatest cybersecurity risk reduction in a firm. 

Studies have shown that 99 percent of data breaches can be prevented by enabling MFA on email accounts.

Knowledge without action is useless. And recovering from a data breach is much more inconvenient and time-consuming than having MFA enabled. Let’s turn on MFA if you’ve not done so, and make it a priority in November. If you’re unsure as to how to do so, feel free to reach out to us, and we’ll get you moving in the right direction. 

A marketing and sales machine for your firm

By Chris, Marketing Team

Using Rootworks content, website and user platform to power your new business efforts

The Modern Firm® includes a modern approach to marketing and sales, and Rootworks has created and organized the components of a delightfully simple and streamlined modern marketing machine that can power your new business efforts. Let’s take a look at the pieces and parts and how you can couple them up to build a better marketing mousetrap for your firm:

  1. Content—The importance of quality online content can’t be overstated. The content that populates your website, social media and other marketing channels not only serves to generate interest and awareness among prospective clients, it also has a cumulative impact on your search engine rankings—another important means to connect your firm with interested prospects.

    Rootworks provides a professionally crafted, bimonthly content package to keep your communication channels filled with high-quality, education-based content to generate prospect interest and sales leads. Our content package is included at no extra charge in our top membership levels and is available to our digital members for an additional fee. If you’re not taking advantage of Rootworks content, you’re not putting fuel in the engine of your marketing machine. Content is key!
  2. Website—To make full use of your Rootworks content, be sure your firm is equipped with a 2020 Rootworks website. Our latest site design enables Rootworks bi-monthly content feeds to automatically populate your website with fresh, timely content, such as educational eBooks, QuickRead articles and, of course, our client magazines, In The Loop and Advantage, which are available to our members above the digital level.

    Not only that, but our newest sites are designed to collect important data on interested sales leads and feed that information directly into the Rootworks ClientView™ user platform, where you can begin evaluating and cultivating those leads.

    Perhaps the best feature of Rootworks websites is our simple subscription pricing plan. You can have a Rootworks website that is perpetually up-to-date with the latest features and functionality for just $135 a month. No need to ever plan and budget for a big site overhaul or rebuild every couple of years; your firm always has the latest design and features to support the modern client experience.
  3. ClientView—Here’s where the rubber meets the road! ClientView is part of your Rootworks.com member platform that allows you to organize and analyze your current clients and sales leads. Lead data collected from prospects visiting your website automatically flows into ClientView, where you can easily view and evaluate it and identify opportunities for sales. ClientView gathers and organizes the information for you, making your job faster and easier.

    And Rootworks support goes even further…
  4. More products and resources—For members above the basic digital level, our team has designed optional add-on products to help you shape the way your firm appears on the internet. Online Presence Management is a new add-on product that helps you master your online client review process and your Google My Business account. And for our Academy firms, there are options to expand this product to full-blown outsourced communication managed by Rootworks staff.

    Also for our Academy members, Rootworks maintains a robust library of marketing materials to support your sales efforts, from simple product fact sheets and slide presentations to postcards, email campaigns and more—all available for branding for your firm. Academy members will find it all on Rootworks.com under the Communication tab.

Interested in learning more about the tools and resources available to you to support your marketing efforts? Contact Andy Root to get more details about what’s available at your membership level.

Teaching by Heart: One Professor’s Journey to Inspire, by Thomas J. DeLong

The Lex Fridman Podcast, Episode 129: “Counterintuitive Ideas About How the Brain Works,” with neuroscientist, psychologist, and author Lisa Feldman Barrett 

The Hilarious World of Depression, a podcast about clinical depression… with laughs. “One part stand-up comedy and one part therapy session.” —Mother Jones 

The Jocko Podcast, Episode 246: “The Only Real Failure is Giving Up,” with JP Dinnell

What we’re working on

Inspire Conference preparation is in full swing. We’re at almost 1,100 registrants. Agenda and registration can be found under Resources > Events in Rootworks.com: https://rootworks.com/resources/events/all/e9378750-ce5c-433b-9339-6216171af04a

Upcoming webinars

  • November 11 – Staff Training: 1099 Strategy and Use
  • November 12 – Fall Planning Webinar

Register in Rootworks.com under Resources > Events > Virtual Events.

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