Should practices have Black Friday deals?
Should accountants be getting onto the Black Friday deal bandwagon? The obvious answer is no but in some situations, it could be of benefit.
It is hard to believe that any reader might not be aware that Black Friday will be upon this at the end of this week.
The British may barely have been aware of Thanksgiving in the past but that holiday’s inevitable, frenzied aftermath during which every business in town seems to be desperate to flog off unwanted wares at purportedly low prices has become part of our calendar.
This year, even our leading political parties have jumped on to the bandwagon, making unbeatable new offers on a daily basis, many of which will never be fulfilled, even by the party that wins the election.
It gets worse, since not only has the event expanded through the weekend to Cyber Monday but, in some cases, extended to a fortnight.
On one level, this could be good news for those in need of a new suit, laptop or mobile phone. Some of the deals really are outstanding, offering unbelievable discounts. However, in most cases those getting excited need to be aware that they are likely to be purchasing items that are either no longer in fashion or older models of tech items that their kids would immediately reject.
The big question for accountants is whether we should also be getting involved in the techniques underlying Black Friday Deals. Rather than using Black Friday itself for a marketing campaign, it could be a catalyst to seek ways of generating additional business or controlling workflow.
As always, the first issue to address is ethical guidance, since there are strict rules with regard to the offers that those in our esteemed profession are permitted to make without causing offence or losing qualifications.
Anyone considering this kind of move would do well to consider what they are going to achieve to justify the effort. If all that you are going to do is reduce income for a week or two by (say) 10%, without getting any associated benefit, then what’s the point?
Therefore, before starting it would be best to define exactly what the purpose of the exercise is to be. This comes back to standard business principles. Either you need to be increasing turnover as a direct consequence, reducing cost or, most likely in our case, utilising staff who could otherwise be sitting around not doing very much.
On the basis that the vast majority of companies have either December or March year-ends, it could well be that some auditors have capacity at this time of year and might well wish to offer preferential rates to clients willing to allow staff in on a different schedule from past years. The same could easily apply to corporation tax compliance projects.
However, the big opportunities are likely to come in the personal tax return arena. From past experience, some practitioners will probably have almost completed every private client tax return on the roster by now, while others will barely have started.
For those in the latter category, persuading a much larger proportion of clients than usual to send in the paperwork by Black Friday (or Cyber Monday) could lead to an improved quality-of-life through the Christmas and New Year period.
There is one other area in which we may sometimes reluctantly be forced to cut deals. That is where clients cannot or will not pay outstanding fees. On occasion, it may be better to cut our losses and except a smaller fee, rather than undergo the pain of watching a client going to liquidation and hope to receive a penny or two in the pound some years into the future.
If none of this sounds any good, then you can at least take the opportunity to buy new outfits and upgrade some pieces of tech at what should be ridiculously low prices over the next week.