By Jen Cook
The day I started my job, they gave me a book. It was filled with pages of instructions, forms, policies, and, well... a bunch of stuff I didn’t understand. (Hey, it was my first day.) This was the company Policies & Procedures Manual.
While some people are comfortable asking a hundred questions, I’m not one of those people. So this was perfect. I didn’t have to ask questions, because I had all the answers in front of me. This was my lifeline when I didn’t want to feel stupid. If I didn’t know how to do something, I’d look at the book. Forgot where something was? Looked at the book. Forgot a password? The book.
Fast forward three years later and I’m still using the P&P manual. I’ve reformatted it, added to it, revised it, and I still use it all the time. It’s not just a manual for newbies, it’s an insurer of my quality and consistency.
While a new employee can use a P&P manual to learn, I use it to stay on track. Much like a workflow system, the busier I get, the more I need it. When my mind is on several different tasks at once, I want to make sure I’m doing everything the way it’s supposed to be done.
That’s why we created this Tax Office P&P Guide – to emphasize the importance of Policies & Procedures in your business.
I recommend reading it to get an idea of why you should have a P&P manual for your tax practice. If you don’t have one already, this guide is a blueprint for you to create one.
Here are some key points to fill you in on the guide.
P&Ps keep you and your staff in check.
You set up your Policies & Procedures in a certain way for a reason. You want all of your staff to be treating clients a certain way, executing tasks a certain way, and knowing the answers to any and all of the questions that come their way.
That’s why you should not only be keeping your Policies & Procedures documented, you should be enforcing them, all the time. Make sure your staff is sticking to the systems you worked so hard to set up.
If you do your office admin yourself, a Policies & Procedures manual can help you as much as it can help anyone.
If your systems are documented, and things get hectic (and they will, because you’re running a business and doing the admin work) you can always turn to your P&Ps to make sure you’re taking care of business the right way when your mind gets off-track.
P&Ps save you from staff curveballs.
What if a staff member jumps ship in the middle of tax season?
If an employee ever leaves (with or without the courtesy of a two-week notice), whether it be in the middle of tax season or on a random June afternoon, your trusty P&P manual keeps you fully prepared to get a new hire up and running as easily and quickly as possible. You’ll have all of the information you need to train a new employee, and they have something to refer to if they’ve got questions.
And even if a staff member doesn’t leave, your P&Ps enable quick employee on-boarding and easy training.
You should keep your FAQs at the top of the list.
Having witnessed thousands of tax clients showing up for their appointments, I’ve heard twice as many questions come out of their mouths. Whether it’s their first visit or their twentieth – they’ve got questions.
Whoever is in charge of greeting your clients and getting them situated needs to be prepared to answer those questions. And although the questions are always different, they can be categorized into FAQs. That’s why you should include Frequently Asked Questions in the P&P mix.
Always start with the basic questions and write them down. And as certain questions start to become repetitive, add them to the FAQ list. The more answers you have documented, the more prepared you are for each and every client.
Everyone’s tax practice is different. You may offer 100 services, you may offer 1. But there are still so many things you should be doing on a do on a day-to-day basis to maintain a great relationship with your clients.
We’ve got some basics listed in the P&P guide to get you started, but you should be adding to that list based on what you do uniquely in your practice.
Remember, great client service starts with doing things right, consistently. So quit freestyling, and start P&P-ing.