A few weeks back I sent out one reminder to a client requesting information for a task that was not yet due. I was anxious to complete the project for the client and when asked when I would like the information, I replied, “As Soon As Possible Would Be Great!”. Now, that is really what I meant at the time. The sooner the better is always what is preferred for an accountant. We love early birds! And, because the deadline was weeks away, I had not yet established a hard deadline to submit the information to me (at the time). Now, for other tasks that are “date driven”, we do have hard submittal dates. For example, if you do not have your tax information to us prior to April 1st, any new clients after April 1st will automatically go on an extension to ensure proper time to file the extension as well as have adequate time to review the return. Filling an extension takes time so if 50 clients called on April 14th, it would be difficult to ensure all extensions were filed on time so we have deadlines.
Back to my original point of the client conversation! The client responded to me by stating, “What does ASAP mean to you” and I replied, “One Week”. Their response was that they only work with hard deadlines for every request because “As Soon As Possible” can mean different things to different people. Point well taken! So rather than ignore the great advice as I have learned that we all learn from each other every single day, we will make sure that every request for information (even those far in advance and not deadline driven really), have “drop dead dates” tied to them. It’s good communication. So why have deadlines for some projects and not others? We should all follow our own procedures in every case. It can be tied back to “Smart Goals”. Goals should be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Timely. So while we learn to apply this concept to our own workflows, we should also make sure we apply it to our client relations. By doing so, it makes for a more transparent and effective communication which in turn established trust and solidifies long-term relationships. So let’s all be SMART this tax season and make sure to ask your accountant what their own deadline requirements are proactively if they are not reaching out to you! Know your own time frames, challenges and restrictions and plan accordingly. And if you think you may not have your information ready as a tax deadline is approaching (March 15th for S-Corps & Partnerships and April 17th for Individuals & C-Corps), request an extension at least two weeks before the deadline approaches. Your Tax Professional will thank you!