Tax Lady Deducts Stress from her Hectic Schedule
Linda de Marlor is the dynamic President and Founder of Tax Masters, Inc., a 25- person tax and accounting firm that prides itself on giving clients the personal touch. With 2,000 clients spread across 50 countries, a busy speaking schedule and her role as The Tax Lady on TV’s C-SPAN network, Linda is often stretched thin.
Number one on her list is giving clients one-on-one attention. That means being able to answer their emails and calls, when they happen. It also means having all the answers at her fingertips, which is tough for any expert. Her BlackBerry® smartphone has become a way to manage the load, keep her clients happy and call for help when she needs it.
BlackBerry Connection® (BC): Why did you think you needed a BlackBerry smartphone?
Linda de Marlor (LM): I’m one of those people who can’t shut off a computer until my Inbox is empty. I hate waking up in the morning to find 20, 40 or 80 unanswered emails waiting for me. I heard that BlackBerry smartphones would help me be more organized and answer client emails when they came in. I also heard that the US Congress uses them and that was good enough for me. After a few weeks of having mine, I got them for eight financial advisors on my staff.
We handle real-life issues. People call us when they’re about to get married, have children, divorce or buy a house. Sometimes they need advice, sometimes they desperately need paperwork or their financing can’t go through. I no longer have to wait until I get back into the office to help them. With my BlackBerry smartphone, I can handle requests as they come in. That’s wonderful in my business.
BC: Do you use it to help you prepare client tax returns?
LM: After I meet with a client, I give them a homework list. Over the next few days, I’ll get an email with one thing I needed, then another with the next piece, and so on. In the old days, getting all this by fax was awful. But now I get them as attachments on my BlackBerry smartphone and I can consolidate them and file them for when we actually do their returns.
It also helps me dig deeper into their personal stories. I can send a quick email if I have an idea of how to save them money and get an answer back just as quickly.
The best thing about a BlackBerry smartphone is it synchronizes with my Microsoft® Exchange. When I look on my PC, I see the same thing I have on my smartphone. I can find the paperwork on my smartphone or my PC. It’s so much easier.
BC: Does it help you answer the tough tax questions?
LM: I’m The Tax Lady on C-SPAN and I also do speaker tours all the time. Inevitably someone will ask me something I can’t answer. All I have to do – because I have my BlackBerry smartphone on whether I’m on TV or at a podium – is send a group email to my staff. The people back at my office know they need to answer right away. When we send these group emails it’s useful for us all because we share the answers and learn from other people’s questions.
BC: Does it have any impact on building your client base?
LM: One of our people was meeting with a group of doctors that we wanted as clients. A question came up that he couldn’t answer and he sent out a group email. Within seconds, three emails came back with an answer. Our team member held up the BlackBerry smartphone to these potential clients and said, ‘here’s what we can offer you that nobody else can.’
It’s also useful if someone comes up to me at the end of a speech and tells me they want to fire their accountant and book with me. I can use my Calendar on the BlackBerry smartphone to schedule the appointment right then, so no one procrastinates.
BC: How well does it work for you when you travel?
LM: When I get off the airplane in Milan or Dubai, I immediately power up and get all my emails. I can answer my clients, no matter what the time is, with my BlackBerry smartphone. A lot of them think I work at 2 am or something, but the truth is I’m just better able to stay on top of the emails. I believe I get and keep clients because I respond to them.
BC: How does it help you stay in touch with your family?
LM: I have three children all over the world and we send emails to each other all the time. In fact, I bought all of my children BlackBerry smartphones when they were in college. I knew it would help with their schoolwork and they could also contact Mom if they needed me.
BC: Can you imagine life before you had your BlackBerry smartphone?
LM: I don’t know how I survived before it. I felt like I was drowning, but it’s helped me learn that I can delegate, that I don’t have to do everything. I know I’m getting more free time because of it. Part of it is asking people in my office to handle things that I can’t while I’m on the road. But I also like the fact that I can do things instantly and may be helping a client who has a severe problem.