When I first started doing tax returns, it was in a high pressure, high turnover environment. Clients had 40 minutes maximum with us and they were backed up in the waiting room pretty much all day, every day.
It was a production line, and our success was measured by the number of tax returns completed and volume of money made for the company. Our targets were numbers.
There’s nothing wrong with that, and the “quick tax” business model has been incredibly successful for some corporations.
The phone would constantly ring and had to be answered- there were times when a client interview might be interrupted numerous times. Policy dictated it must not be ignored.
It was a great training ground. We would leave work feeling drained and exhausted, but I could say I’d met my targets and made money for the shareholders. I’d earned my wages.
However, now that I’m in business for myself, I have had to think a lot about what my targets will be? How will I measure success or failure?
I now allow about two hours for my tax return appointments- I will do no more than two, maybe three in a day. I will never be burdened with too much money, but allowing that time gives me something a lot more valuable – it gives me space to really communicate with my clients. It gives me time to think about how best to approach a tax return and the best way to complete it so that everything possible has been captured and recorded.
Then I walk away from the work for a while so that I can think about it- come back to it with fresh eyes.
Working like this has been a joy- There is never anyone in the waiting room when I’m with a client and we have time for a good chat and maybe a coffee. It is a two-way conversation and I love that I get as much from clients as they do from me. I learn things, I get to know people and I am so much the richer for it. Seeing my clients every year becomes like catching up with old friends.
The result? I leave work feeling calm and relaxed rather than tired and stressed. My work is good in a technical/legal sense and I lodge knowing that what I am submitting has been carefully prepared and double checked. Sometimes triple checked! I don’t answer the phone when I’m with a client. I call people back.
I now love my job. It’s rewarding and challenging and sometimes it’s even fun. In the spaces I’ve opened up by slowing down, there are previously hidden treasures.