Last Wednesday morning with all of my mastermind & coaching clients we had an open discussion about everybody’s favourite thing…
Making Tax Digital.
And despite the general confusion, frustration and usual HMRC bashing, there was one thing that almost everybody on the call agreed on…
MTD is the perfect opportunity to get clients onto the cloud.
It’s a little bit like the carrot and the stick metaphor.
Trying to sell the benefits of cloud accounting software to reluctant clients is the carrot. Some will take it, others won’t.
Whereas MTD is the stick. It’s where you can say “look, this tax thing is out of our control. We don’t like it just as much as you, but if we don’t do it there’s going to be penalties blah blah. So, let’s get you onto the cloud and make both our lives easier”.
Hopefully you understand the gist…
But the point is that MTD does create a great opportunity for smacking a few clients with the MTD stick and getting them onto the cloud.
So, how do you go about doing it?
I recently saw a post on Linkedin where the results were shared from a webinar poll asking the question “what have you done so far to prepare clients?”. The results were as follows:
- Letters/emails to clients 76%
- Hosted MTD events 4%
- Created dedicated MTD page on website 8%
- Blogs 8%
- Shared news/updates on social media 16%
And as you can see from the results, the majority of practices seem to be going down the well-trodden route of sending out letters and emails to clients.
This is fine, providing that there is sufficient follow up to the letters and emails. I would hedge my bets that lots of practices are lacking in the sufficient follow up side of things though…
So, here’s a better approach…
This requires a conversation with the clients. Ideally face to face so that you can gauge their understanding, although I’m sure if you’re geographically stretched a video call would suffice.
But this conversation doesn’t necessarily have to be 1 to 1. For practices with larger client numbers, this would be quite time intensive. So why not consider running a series of small events where you can get clients to come in in groups. That way you can do 10 to 1 and leverage your time much better.
And during the conversation you’ll want to cover these points, in this order:
- What MTD is all about, why it’s important, and what happens if we don’t prepare for it (Stick)
- Why cloud accounting is the perfect solution for MTD AND all of the other benefits of using cloud accounting software e.g. KPI dashboards, daily bank rec, mobile invoicing etc (Carrot)
By doing this, you’re not only educating your clients about MTD and providing that little bit of extra encouragement to get them set up on the cloud, you’re also strengthening your relationship with them in the process. It’s win-win-win.
During the call with my clients last Wednesday, one of them shared an approach similar to the above.
First, they identified which if their clients the MTD scheme would affect that weren’t currently using cloud accounting software.
Then they sent out a series of emails with e-flyers attached containing some information about MTD, what is was all about and what it meant for them as a business.
From there, they booked people into a series of small events which they are running in their offices after 5pm.
They positioned these events in 2 ways:
- Come and learn about MTD, how it affects you and what we’re doing to help you prepare, and
- Come and have some drinks and nibbles afterwards and use this as a networking opportunity with a number of other local businesses (apparently this bit is quite appealing in itself…)
And so far, there has been some client pushback which is only natural, but the general response from clients has been positive.
Are they worth it?
For the practices who are proactive about their approach to educating clients, not only will you see an uptake in the number of clients using the cloud, you should also be in a strong position to win new business in the form of clients who got caught out by a lack of preparation from their current accountant.
But ultimately it begs the question…
If you have clients who are unwilling to embrace the benefits of the cloud, and move along with the times, do you want them as clients in the first place?
That’s a decision that lies solely with you…