What’s the first thing that you think of when I bring up the subject of websites? Lots of people connect accounting website design with marketing, and this is really your website’s principal function. Websites are extremely intense instruments, though. By adding a few simple features and grasping the best way to make use of them you will substantially cut your operating costs.
It’s a simple matter to add a “Track Your Refund” feature to your website. Supplement this with a few smartly chosen interactive financial calculators to help clients with frequently asked questions about personal and family finances. If you have an administrative assistant these features can really empower her as a gatekeeper. Make sure she’s familiar with these features, too, so he can refer callers to the appropriate web pages on your site. This can save you a lot of unbillable hours on the phone.
How much do you spend each year on printing and postage?
Transition your communications to email. Now, most firms have already done this for daily contact messages, but a surprisingly large number of firms are still wasting a lot of money on printing and postage. You can almost eliminate these costs completely by incorporating certain functions right into your accounting website design.
The first feature is your newsletter. When you design your website include a page for an online newsletter. Instead of mailing out a paper newsletter just send an email to your clients with a few article “teasers” and links back to the stories on your newsletter pages.
Another real killer comes around every year about this time. It’s tax season. Are you still mailing out your annual tax organizers? Try distributing them over the internet instead! There’s two very effective methods to accomplish this.
Let’s look at the easy solution first. Post your tax organizer on your accounting website as a downloadable document. Use Adobe Acrobat to convert your tax organizer as a PDF file so Mac users can access them, too. This solution is the quickest, easiest, and cheapest solution. Your clients can just download the form, fill it out, and mail it back to you.
The other solution is much cooler, but also a lot trickier. You can set up your tax organizer as an online form that your clients can fill out and submit online. There are a lot of advantages to this method. You’ll get better participation because your clients don’t need to mail it back. Better yet, once the client is finished filling it out you get access to the results instantly. On the other hand this requires some advanced programming. Traditional form pages send the completed form by email, and tax organizers contain a lot of confidential information. Obviously this is a significant security issue. Instead you need to run the password protected form directly off the host server. Most small accounting firms won’t want to deal with the advanced programming required to make this work.
The last thing I want to talk about is your file exchange. Secure file exchange will substantially improve your office’s efficiency. This bit of design will save you a lot of chaos around tax time. There’s no more need for the expense of overnight delivery or, worse yet, the inconvenience of hand delivery of client data. You can easily transfer this information securely and instantly over your website. Many accounting firms, especially ones with multiple offices, have taken this design concept a step further. They are actually running their accounting software right on a web server so they can access any clients data, any time, from any place, and in real time.
Your accounting website design is unquestionably one of the most effective selling tools on your tool belt, but it will also make and save your firm a lot of cash each year. Make use of these strategies. Even if your site doesn’t bring in a single new client it will still pay for itself. Not only will it shrink your operating costs, you’ll discover it also boosts client satisfaction and retention.
Kenny Marshall is a maketing guru and former Vice President of CPA Site Solutions, one of the nation’s leading website companies oriented entirely to accounting website design.