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Practice Tips - create standard letters

15th Jul 2005
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I’ve talked about putting things in writing in these Practice Tips before. And I wouldn’t be surprised if I do it again, because under Practice Assurance nothing seems more important to me (apart from copies of passports and utility bills, of course).

But, it’s one thing to say this, it’s another to make money out of doing so.

There is an answer to that dilemma. If you’re honest about it, more than 90% of all the letters your firm sends are pretty standard. Take this list for starters:
1. Asking for tax return information
2. Asking for accounts information<
3. Sending accounts to the client
4. Sending tax returns to the client
5. Sending tax returns to the Inland Revenue
6. Sending accounts to Companies House
7. General chasers
8. Bills
9. Covering letters for bills
10. Statements
11. Credit references for mortgages.

You can add to the list to suit your own taste. There is an art form in getting these letters right. If you’re in charge, you’ve probably mastered that art. So you can write a good version of any one of these. Your staff are not in charge. That’s because they can’t do these things as well as you.

So what’s the moral? You should write a perfect letter. Think of all the likely options you’re going to want to put in it. Then make it a template on your system. The most a member of staff has then got to do is top and tail it and add details to suit the client.

What are the advantages? I think they’re obvious. Less thought is involved once the template is set up, so time is saved. If you’ve put in all the necessary risk warnings (like pay your tax on time or interest and penalties will be due, and so on and on and on these days) then you can be sure they will be there for every client and your risk is covered, and your Practice Assurance is in the bag.

Finally, make sure you change the standard letter every year. Most of these letters will only go to each client once a year. So if you change it every year they will never know that they have got a standard document.

Template letters make sense. I suggest you try them.

Standard Letters and Forms - Resources Alert</b> <P>To coincide with this subject AccountingWEB will shortly have available a series of standard letters and forms which can be tailored for use within the practice. Further information to follow.

Richard Murphy
AccountingWEB contributing editor Richard Murphy is a sole practitioner chartered accountant but was previously senior partner of a firm for 11 years. He has also been chairman, chief executive or finance director of 10 SMEs. A collection of previous articles by Richard on practice management themes is available in Practice Management Zone



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