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thoughtleader

November ’19

Ideas for the journey to better every day.

November ’19

Unveiling the all-new Rootworks platform…

By Darren Root, CEO

Offering the power to make your clients’ lives better!

I can’t overstate this enough: You don’t want to miss this year’s Inspire conference! We’ll be unveiling the all-new Rootworks platform, which includes our super-charged ClientView™ CRM.

You will be amazed at all the platform offers and how it will power your firm to make your clients’ lives better. You’ll definitely want to see this live and in-person. However, whether you join us in Florida or not, you will see our latest version launch just after Inspire in early December. It’s all the functionality you are used to and so much more! 

Our goal at Rootworks is to consistently provide our members with resources and tools that fuel your long-term success. And that’s why we’ve worked so hard this year to rebuild the Rootworks platform. In fact, success is at the heart of every enhancement we made—both your success and the success of your clients.

I believe that the truest measure of a firm’s success is the success of its clients. That’s why we should all be asking one critically important question: “How can I make my clients’ lives better?” And it’s our job to help you figure out how to accomplish this.

Making your clients’ lives better…

So, what does it mean to make your clients’ lives better? It’s actually pretty simple. It means proactively offering them products and services designed to support success both in their business and personal lives. It’s up to us as trusted advisors to maintain a crystal-clear picture of our clients’ needs, and then proactively provide the products and services they require for success.

To operate within a proactive model requires a change in mindset, however. For years, many have followed a reactive model—that is, a client requests a service, and the firm customizes the service for the client and delivers it. This leads to a perpetual process of reinventing the wheel.

Transitioning to a proactive model means that we need to get to a place where we anticipate clients’ needs—before they come to us with requests. To do this, access to current, accurate client data is critical. For example: Does the client have a retirement plan in place? Do they have a succession plan in place? What credit cards do they use (and are they the ones that offer the best rewards)? Is the client using the most modern technologies to support efficient operations? These are all examples of data points, that when aggregated, provide you with clear and actionable information about your clients. When you have this level of information at your fingertips, it allows you to serve clients proactively with the right products and solutions—at the right time!

ClientView CRM makes it all happen!

Rootworks ClientView CRM serves as the hub for all of your client data, allowing you to aggregate key data points and extract valuable information on your clients’ current and future needs. Think of it as your crystal ball—providing full visibility into your client base and allowing you to predict their needs.

Here are a few key functions within the new platform and the value each offers:

  • Dashboard—The Dashboard offers an overview of key client information such as your business and individual client and prospect mix. You’re also presented with a snapshot of the solutions that make up each client’s technology ecosystem and current opportunities available for the firm. In addition, you can view key Rootworks resources and tools, including upcoming events and coaching calls.
  • Client module—The Client module is where the rubber meets the road—the tool that powers your ability to make your clients’ lives better. Maintain all client data points in one place and turn them into valuable and impactful information, including:
    • Technologies your clients have in place, such as QBO or Bill.com. Easily identify opportunities to move clients into your technology model.
    • Products clients have purchased such as retirement plans or payroll. Monitor data to quickly identify value-added products for your clients. For example, run a report on all clients who do not have a 401(k) plan. Those without a plan represent opportunities to sell.
    • Details about your clients including everything from industry (e.g., church or dental), if they have a buy/sell agreement in place, and annual firm revenue to payroll and employee benefits, insurance (e.g., life, disability, etc.), detailed tax information (e.g., qualify for R&D credit, 529 plan, etc.) and what credit cards they use. Easily view and change details about your clients within a single, organized space.
  • Prospects—This module seamlessly integrates with the Rootworks 2019 website to provide you with a current, organized list of prospects. Easily monitor and vet pending prospects. Qualified prospects can be moved forward in the sales funnel.
  • Opportunities—This is where all current opportunities are aggregated and organized. Monitor opportunities daily to make sure nothing falls through the cracks.
  • Filters—Filter on any data field in the platform to slice and dice data and gain full visibility in your client and prospect base.

When you turn client data into actionable information, you are far better equipped to make your clients’ lives better! And we have the platform to get you there.

Success is right here

I said it at the start of this article, and I’ll say it again: You DO NOT want to miss this year’s Inspire conference. You’ll have a front-row seat for the unveiling of the all-new and power-packed Rootworks platform—specifically ClientView CRM. We’ll also be introducing at least six new and updated products that you can offer your clients. It’s a true game-changer for our members.

I hope to see you all in sunny Florida next month!

All my best,

Have you heard our Better Every Day podcast yet? Subscribe on iTunes or listen from our website at rootworks.com/podcast for a deeper dive on the topics discussed in this column.

Offering audit protection to clients – FAQs

 By Leah, Education Team

As firms are thinking about changes for next tax season, audit protection is a topic that comes up frequently in our coaching calls. Audit protection is a service that firms offer to provide assistance to clients that may run into identity theft and/or a notice from the IRS. To learn more about what is entailed in this service offering, read on. 

What is audit protection? 

Audit protection is intended to be a security for clients to cover costs they might incur with your firm if they get a notice or experience identity theft and your firm has to file paperwork with the IRS. It also helps cover firm costs that often times were not previously being billed to the clients. Making the decision to offer audit protection means you are now letting the client know the time you spend responding to notices will be billed if they refuse the coverage. 

How can my firm position it to our clients?

Your firm can offer the service as an opt-in option or opt-out. You will likely see a higher adoption with the opt-out method, as the client has to indicate that they don’t wish to receive it after it is automatically placed on their invoice.

Pricing considerations

The fee of the service can be a percentage of the invoice (which is most common) or a fixed fee. If going with a percentage, 15 to 25 percent seems to be the most common.

Does it have to be offered to everyone?

No. Your firm can pick and choose who to offer this service to. You may not want to offer it to all clients, especially those clients who are notorious for receiving notices.

Do you represent your client in tax court with this service?

Audit protection should cover correspondence up to appeals. However, your firm needs to decide what you want to include in your audit protection coverage. 

How would a firm track this service in their practice management solution?

It is recommended to create an additional engagement or service-related item to add to the client’s setup and subsequent invoice.

How do I learn more about audit protection?

If your firm is a Rootworks member, search for Audit Protection in the Online Learning library. Here you will find additional resources including a guide with communication examples and a recorded training on this topic.

Have a response plan in place for cybersecurity incidents

By Chris Dickens, IT

A recent survey of 1,000 small businesses surveyed by the National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA) found that 28 percent had reported some sort of data breach within the past 12 months. Of those affected, the following staggering statistics were reported:

  • 69 percent were offline for a limited time
  • 37 percent of businesses suffered a financial loss
  • 25 percent filed for bankruptcy
  • 10 percent went completely out of business

Additionally, less than half (46 percent) reported that they feel prepared to respond quickly to limit the impact of a data breach or security incident. One reason for this may be that small businesses, while they may have security policies in place, have no formal response plan for likely scenarios that may occur.   

For accounting firms, there are a handful of likely scenarios that firms may encounter in terms of cybersecurity incidents. Here are a few:

  • Phishing links or attachments clicked or opened
  • Fake antivirus alerts
  • Ransomware or some other malware infecting computer(s)
  • An unauthorized person has accessed computer(s) and/or stolen our client data
  • A client’s banking accounts have been compromised
  • Fraudulent tax returns have been filed using our EFIN number

Accounting firms should write specific plans on how they will respond to each of these incidents. The plan should include how to respond to the incident from a mitigation and remediation standpoint. Firms should also know what legal requirements they have for disclosure to affected customers and reporting to law enforcement authorities. Finally, firms need to be prepared to address large scale data breaches from a brand and reputation standpoint, and they need to know what protections they may offer their clients in the wake of a breach, such as consumer protection services. 

Not all security incidents result in a data breach. The first two on the list above are not data breaches. Ransomware is not a data breach, but the best practice is to treat it as one. The last two do represent a data breach, where your client data has been accessed or stolen. These will have the greatest impact on your firm and will require the most planning and preparation.  

Don’t forget your low-hanging fruit of marketing

By Chris, Marketing Team

Now that we’re nearing the end of the fourth quarter, do you know where your marketing plan stands? If you’re like many other firms, your marketing plan may have taken a recess during fall deadlines and now you’re trying to play catch up. With less than two months left in the year, instead of trying to pick up where you left off, remember the low-hanging fruits of marketing are your referral sources and current clients. Here are a few tips to help you…

  1. Identify key referral sources Bankers, insurance agents, stockbrokers and existing clients. Make a list and consider how to best interact with them. 
  2. Define your elevator speech – Define why your sources should refer their valued clients to your firm (i.e., your technology platforms, expertise in serving a niche industry, etc.) and how you’ll contribute to their clients’ success.
  3. Provide a service/solutions menu – Provide your referral sources with an easy-to-understand menu of your firm’s services. 
  4. Become an educator at heart – Focus on helping people solve problems–from technology platforms to tax strategies, etc. Offer educational events and invite clients and prospects alike.
  5. Assign ownership – Appoint a team member to create and implement a plan to engage your best referral sources. If you are an Academy member, check out the referral source marketing collateral in Rootworks.com for inspiration. 

If you start now, there’s still time to make an impact on your 2019 marketing efforts. Your referral sources and clients represent your most economical and time efficient path to new business. Focus on effective ways to connect with this market and reap the benefits well into the new year. 

Announcements

Rootworks has a new relationship with Vertex – vertexinc.com. Vertex is sales and use tax software. The system can calculate sales and use tax and handle return filings. For firms with clients that are subject to sales tax on the products or services they sell, in particular for those businesses that sell in multiple states and taxing jurisdictions, the system can more easily automate complex sales tax calculations and also automate return filing.

Rootworks firms receive preferred pricing for their clients, which is not available to businesses that approach Vertex directly. This should be a 10 percent discount.

Find more information in Rootworks.com under Learn / Vendor Info. Click the Vertex logo.

 

Rootworks also has a new relationship with Grade.us. Grade.us is a review management software platform that helps you solicit, manage and disseminate online client reviews. Simply put, Grade.us helps your firm gather positive reviews from real customers and leverage them for more effective marketing. You are able to respond to reviews, both positive and negative reviews, from within Grade.us.

Rootworks is now a Grade.us reseller. Firms that sign up for Grade.us through Rootworks pay $100/month. There is no minimum commitment period.

Find more information in Rootworks.com under Learn / Vendor Info. Click the Grade.us logo.

Upcoming Webinars for November

  • November 5 – Staff Training: Onvio Document & Client Center Use. This class will cover the day-to-day use of Onvio Document. For firms using Onvio Client Center in conjunction with Onvio Document, this class will also cover those functions.
  • November 12 – Staff Training: Culture Webinar: Taming Your Inner Control Freak. All of us have a little control freak in us that wants out. Left unchecked, your control freak can lead to an unhealthy firm culture, a clunky business model and a terrible way to spend your day. You don’t have to settle for a business or a job that is ruled by your control freak. Join us as we discuss proven ways our members are taming the beast!
  • November 20 – Staff Training: Onvio Time & Billing Use. This class will walk through the process of tracking time and billing clients in Onvio. This includes options for manually entering time, using a timer, billing recurring fees, billing non-recurring fees, and reviewing reports available to analyze production and revenue.
  • November 21 – Fall Technology Update Webinar. Rootworks will educate participants on new software and improvements to existing software. Participants will learn how these technologies and processes can support their business model, improve relationships with clients, and elevate their service levels. In this session, we will educate members on two new vendors with whom Rootworks has established relationships:
    • Vertex sales & use tax software
    • SafeSend Returns tax return delivery software

Register in Rootworks.com under Learn / Events.

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