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You're not selling BMWs. Don't get hung up on pursuing perfection!
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The Ridiculous Pursuit of Perfection

BMW makes some of the finest cars on the road. I owned a gently-used one myself, a lifetime ago, when I was young and the open road stretched ahead of me like an irresistible invitation to future adventure. (Now I’m old and jaded, and I generally lease so I’ll never drive anything that’s not under warranty.) BMWs are over-engineered to within an inch of their life. And if that’s not enough, you can get most of them in an “M” configuration, which essentially says, “why dial it up to 11 when we can dial it up to 12?”

But there’s a downside to BMW’s “relentless pursuit of perfection.” Every time I took my car to be serviced, I knew it would cost at least $1,000. Even routine oil changes reached deep into my wallet and grabbed my cash. The technicians (never mere “mechanics”) wore white lab coats to help justify the fees. (I’ll be discussing strategies like that when I present “Choreographing Client Experiences” in our upcoming Virtual Green Light Academy, October 21-22.)

I don’t drive BMWs anymore. Over the last 20 years, I’ve had two Jaguars and two Fiat convertibles – so, clearly, I’m a style-over-substance guy. (Style under warranty, mind you.) But if you’ve been reading these Briefs long enough, you know there’s a business development connection here.

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Tax professionals tend to be perfectionists. Sometimes “perfect” – or a reasonable facsimile of that – is warranted. The debits have to match the credits. The balance sheet has to balance. The tax return has to be something you feel comfortable signing and something that passes IRS muster.

But the world isn’t a perfect place. And your work product doesn’t have to be perfect, either. Call me cynical, but the rewards for going from “good enough” to “perfect” don’t usually justify the work. Even BMW doesn’t promise “perfection” – just the relentless pursuit of it.

Know when to draw the line. Know when the rewards of pursuing perfection outweigh the effort. Understand that while BMW sells a lot of cars, they sell some to a hard-core group of enthusiasts, and the rest to status-seekers who just want to look like enthusiasts. The typical suburban soccer parent driving an X-5 doesn’t understand how BMW engineers the chassis of their SUV, because to them, it doesn’t matter. Your clients won’t appreciate your perfection, either. So don’t waste your time giving it to them!

The Briefs is a weekly column on marketing and business planning for tax professionals and financial advisors looking to better serve clients and grow their business. 

Edward Lyon

Edward Lyon

Edward A. Lyon is CEO of the Tax Master Network, where he's coached tax professionals to add planning and financial services to their business since 2005. Go here to join the network. Go here to upgrade your membership or discuss opportunities in financial services.
Edward Lyon

Edward Lyon

Edward A. Lyon is CEO of the Tax Master Network, where he's coached tax professionals to add planning and financial services to their business since 2005. Go here to join the network. Go here to upgrade your membership or discuss opportunities in financial services.

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