Tax Strategies for Bank Robbers

Keith and I dreamed up TaxCoach one afternoon over lunch at Tellers restaurant in Cincinnati’s Hyde Park Square. So it’s fitting that our current offices are just down the street from that restaurant, across from a bank and a funeral home (which would be even more appropriate if we offered an estate-planning tool).

Yesterday morning, three spirited youngsters robbed that bank across the street. They took off in a stolen SUV just as a red dye pack exploded in the cash. At that point, our enterprising-but-apparently-underemployed youths panicked and threw the money out the window, scattering the cash up and down snow-covered Erie Avenue.

I showed up at the office just as the police were clearing the scene. I didn’t realize what was happening, so I missed my chance to pick up some easy money. But the robbery did spark some entertaining discussion on our weekly Member Call-In.

I’m a big fan of targeting markets. Targeting specific markets, like real estate agents, physicians, or retirees, and specializing in solving their problems, is a smart way to build exposure and command premium fees. It’s like opening an orthodontics practice and specializing in braces versus a general dentistry practice. (What’s the difference between a dentist and an orthodontist? About $25k/year – Keith)

I doubt many of you are looking to target bank robbers for your practice. It’s hard to build long-term relationships with clients unexpectedly serving time in “government subsidized housing.” And there aren’t many planning opportunities for inmates making 11 cents/hour stamping license plates. But you can use stories like our local bank robbery to boost your business – by taking a topic that intimidates clients and injecting a little entertainment.

Taxes aren’t fun. Even accountants and attorneys are intimidated. Keith is a CPA, and he’s never prepared his own returns – which is a good thing, otherwise there would be no TaxCoach. And I recently met with a local judge (who coincidentally took and passed the same bar exam as I did), who confessed she’s never done her own taxes. Is it any wonder the typical client thinks they couldn’t even spell tax, even if you spotted them the “t” and the “a”?

One of the best things we can do for our clients is to make taxes less intimidating. We can take stories like the bank robbery, find a tax angle, and make the whole topic less terrifying.

Those of you who have been around for a while will remember the “Tax Strategies for Somali Pirates” module we offered in last April’s Lineup. We repositioned that piece for one of our Networker weekly client emails – and members told us they were overwhelmed with positive responses from their clients. None of you were looking for pirate clients – but it made an impact and your clients appreciate it and remember you for it.

Back when I launched my personal service practice, I worked hard to promote myself as “the funniest tax guy in America.” Clients weren’t necessarily looking for a funny tax guy – they wanted a good tax guy. But the humor got me appearances on CNN, Fox News, and other networks, and that credibility turbocharged my business. That’s why you’ll see the picture of me on the CNN set on the TaxCoach home page – even though I’ve lost a good 20 pounds since it was taken. That credibility is worth the 20 pounds the camera adds.

If you’re looking to build your business, keep an eye out for the dramatic, funny, or thrilling stories that clients are already talking about. Find a way to work taxes into the story. Use that story in your marketing efforts and client communications. And watch your business grow with less effort and more fun than you thought possible.