It’s Just Hitting and Catching (and 1040s and W2s and 1099s and 1095s)
Baseball offseason: the time roughly between Halloween and Valentine’s Day when Major League Baseball teams take a break from hitting, catching and fielding. While there may be not peanuts, hot dogs, cracker jacks, or $12 beers being peddled at baseball stadiums across North America, it does not mean the teams are idle. In fact, in the days lead up to February 18, 2016 (when pitchers and catchers report!), teams are busy preparing for the coming season, the same way tax professionals are gearing up for the impending busy season.
This work behind the scenes is what ultimately lays the groundwork for a successful tax (or baseball) season. Without adequate preparation, both baseball and accounting organizations would find themselves struggling mightily to keep up with the demands of their professions.
- Shore Up Talent
Before the final champagne cork has been popped after the conclusion of the World Series, front office staffs across the league are assessing their teams and wheeling and dealing to address their talent deficits and fill in the gaps. Some needs may be temporary: a replacement for a pitcher recovering from surgery at the beginning of the season; while others may be long-term: their second baseman is retiring. Accounting organizations similarly need to ensure they have appropriate seasonal staff as well as a solid group of full-time employees to handle the demands of the busy season.
- Learn from Years Past
What went right last year? What needs improvement? Both Major League Baseball teams and accounting organizations can build upon the outcomes of the previous year. Where did you struggle last season? What resources can be used to address those issues and make this year’s busy season go more smoothly? Was it a talent issue? A systems issue? A technical problem? Addressing struggles can only help improve this season, whether you’re the New York Yankees or an accounting firm.
- Establish Workflow Processes
No team or organization can be successful unless there are clear cut processes for conducting business, addressing issues, solving problems and working toward a common goal. It is essential that staff—whether they are accountants, baseball players, equipment managers, or administration--know the priorities, practices and culture of the organization in order to be successful.
- Keep the Fans Happy
Whether your audience is season ticket holders at Fenway, the casual baseball fan or individual or corporate clients, you want to keep them happy and motivated. The best way to do that? Get them excited. Play up what you have to offer, stress how your offseason moves will help bolster your team or services, and how all of this is being done in the name of fan and client satisfaction. This will keep them coming back for more.
- Keep Stakeholders Happy
If you’re a Major League Baseball team, this might mean cultivating good relationships with the reporters on your beat, keeping them abreast of your moves and giving them access to new players and information. If you’re an accounting organization, you can use media or social media to help advertise your services to new potential clients. This may mean monitoring feedback, addressing client concerns that appear in the press or in reviews, and working to ensure you are portrayed in the best light possible.
While Major League Baseball vets and rookies alike are gearing up to take the field in a few short weeks, so too are the nation’s CPAs. While they might not be doing wind sprints or playing catch, they’re shoring up systems, brushing up on their knowledge of the tax code, and getting their spreadsheets ready to make the upcoming busy season a winning one.
Lauren Sternberg, Communications Manager-American Institute of CPAs.
Baseball courtesy of Shutterstock.