Greg Baron answers the phone in a chipper mood.
“Give Me Liberty,” he says.
Then he asks the caller if she likes that greeting. “I am thinking about a new way to answer the phones here,” he continues. “What about this one, ‘How can I make you smile?’”
That works, the interviewer is smiling and will keep smiling throughout the conversation as Greg’s fast-paced chatter is sprinkled with quips and jokes and just plain fun.
Greg should be in a good mood. He’s been a Top Gun franchisee at Liberty Tax Service for the past six years. Last year, he also was named Franchisee of the Year for Canada. He won three other awards that year, too, Second Highest Number of Returns (Existing Office), National Marketing Award and Liberty Principles Award.
“I had four staff members with me at the convention in Edmonton,” he says. “Maybe I should have brought five.” If only it were that simple. Greg puts quite a bit of time and energy into his business, and he takes great care to treat his customers – and his employees – right.
The result: His store went from 459 tax returns in his first year as a franchisee to just about 4,400 this tax season, his 13th with Liberty. That means Greg’s store serves about 15 percent of the population in Spruce Grove, a city that sits just outside Edmonton, Alberta Canada.
That’s pretty impressive.
And, Greg would be the first to tell you that Liberty Tax makes owning a business easier than going it alone. “They’re there to support you,” he says. “And if you’ve got questions or issues,
they’ll get you going.” Still, the franchisee must put in the legwork. “You have to be out in your community, out in your city. I went to a Chamber meeting the other night and some people who didn’t know me asked what I do. I said, ‘I make refunds happen.’ Then I gave them my spiel about Liberty Tax.”
You could say that Greg takes his spiel with him wherever he goes. He bought a Toyota Highlander a few years ago and put Liberty Tax Service and his phone number on his doors and the back
window. He made it large enough so that people could read the phone number and jot it down. “The whole thing ended up costing me $200 and it has paid for itself maybe 50 times over,” he says.
“Of course you have to make sure you’re driving nicely in it, not cutting people off or anything.”
He even made his license plate taxspecific. It’s TAXRUSH.
He’s put on the Leafy costume more than once and paraded outside his office to honking horns and waves from passersby. That’s not to say there isn’t hard work involved. When Greg reflects on his first year, he remembers one day, in particular.
“It was early March in my first tax season. I remember going out to my van and wondering, ‘What have I done? Can this Liberty thing work?’ From that moment on, I made a big decision and we just dug in and made it happen.”
Digging in, for Greg, began with his employees. He’s flexible with the schedule and aware of their needs. Staff lunches and birthday celebrations are the norm at the office, as is the image of Greg roaming around, upbeat and making sure his staff is the same. The welcoming environment has meant low staff turnover. One employee has been with him from the start. Others clock eight, six, five years with his business.
His staff knows the ropes, and when clients come in, they greet them with a smile. The waiting area has only three chairs, so customers never have sit too long before they’re served. The side effect, says Greg: “Great word-of-mouth advertising.”
To keep it that way, Greg says he gets ahead of things that might deflate taxpayers. He lets customers know right away if there are issues with their taxes. If a customer isn’t satisfied, he takes care of that, too. “I’ve given money back, done free returns. But you have to do it now, you can’t say, ‘Oh, this can wait until the end of tax season.’”
Greg has watched his role in the office morph over time. He’s preparing fewer returns, even though the number of returns his office completes has increased. He’s constantly tweaking the business. He said he tries to hit as many of CEO John Hewitt’s Top 10 as possible. “He’s been in the business forever,” Greg says of John. “If you follow his list, you’re going to have a very good chance of being successful.”
When he looks back over the 13 years, Greg says he’s happy his wife researched and recommended Liberty as a way to transition from the accounting type jobs he had been doing. “I absolutely love Liberty,” he says. “I like being in control. The freedom and independence at my Liberty franchise is outstanding, and it’s more than just the financial part of it. You get to know your clients, your community and the Liberty Tax Service team as a whole. It’s a real sense of purpose.”
To learn more about the Liberty Tax franchise opportunity, visit LibertyTaxFranchise.com or interact with Liberty Tax Franchise on Twitter and Facebook.
For more information visit: www.libertytaxfranchise.com