What I have witnessed goes against what you believe, making you feel you have the "high road", and can throw out the word liar. Truthfully, it doesn't bother me, doesn't make me mad, as I learned a long time ago, when some one doesn't want to believe something, any thing said against that belief is a useless conversation. Those that know me know I am NOT lying, and that's all that counts.
Do you remember the conference call of how to get FREE labor by using people without pay for XXX number of hours? I think it was John's son that came up with that idea. Hopefully NO ONE used it!
Can we agree there are low volume franchise offices? That a new office needs to be staffed 76 hours a week (9-9 weekdays 9-5 weekends). Can we agree there are many "dead hours" during tax season? . Staffing an office is done by a guesstimate of how many clients are expected on a day to day basis. New franchises haven't got a clue and tend to over staff. Too many preparers can lessen the bonus for all, too few preparers losses business when clients won't wait. It takes time for any new business to grow and establish a reputation.
With 3-6 preparers some will get more "dead time" than others, won't have the availability for max peak hours, and no repeat request to fill March's calendar. A bonus for them will be nothing to brag about.
When I worked at Block, they would close any new office that did less than 800 returns. Most HRB pros will refuse to work a new office, as the risk of less pay is too high.
I did complain about pay when I discovered the new starting pay at Block is $9 with NO commission, as 10 years ago it was $10 with commission. I do NOT understand why a worker in a service industry working one on one with clients, as the representative of the company, who are capable of putting out a start to finish product while building trust, that brings growth wouldn't be more valuable with all the training one has to learn on their own time. A filing clerk starts at $12.50 an hour, knowing nothing more than the alphabet.
Again you "assume" all franchise's have employees sign a contract! That all franchises' follow every rule and regulation. You seem to love the attack mode should any one dare to disagree or say anything negative about Liberty. I have a personal relationship with 2 EA's who had to shut down, (one filed for bankruptcy) and one CPA with a highly successful accounting business that added Liberty Tax Prep to his office, which did NOT work out for him. After two years, he peeled Liberty's sign off his window, and stayed opened till his death a few years later. I KNOW what all 3 of these really good guys went thru, from buying into what they believed to be their dream business, to the stress and strain and cost of failure.
FYI, I have retired, and am training my replacement. Because it's my son's office, I will only take on long time clients that won't go to another preparer. Most have been with me since my HRB days. Like it or lump it, both HRB and Liberty have their B.S. factor. I've told you more than once, I was happy for you and my son for having a successful Liberty, there are many, and hopefully Liberty will keep growing. Being reduced to having a temper tantrum and cussing while trying to advertise Liberty's value on the HRB message board is NOT the best way to win customer confidence, or make preparers want to work there.
Good post, David. What I have witnessed over the years is good pay and benefits when jobs are plentiful, and bad pay and benefits when job seekers are plentiful. As the "gold watch" and pensions disappear, companies are allowed to get richer on the backs of it's workforce. Companies have learned if you can't get cheap labor here, there is greener pastures overseas. As job seekers take the hit with lower pay, it justifies buying the cheap overseas product! Like a catch 22, if we don't buy American products jobs go bye-bye, consumer dollars then dictate we NEED foreign lower priced products. Look at the growth in "Dollar Stores". Is every thing in them made in China or Taiwan? I honestly believe companies will continue to look for higher profits, and treat it's work force badly while there are millions lined up trying to get hired. When a company can so easily replace it's workers, and pay the next guy less, the working man/woman can be "beat up" and have to toe the line grateful he/she has a job at all. Until we can create more jobs than workers, only then will the micromanaging stop, pay will go up, and job security will return! YET, how do we do that, when we're stuck in this catch 22?
I stand corrected. Min. wage in AZ is $7.90, and as you pointed out Liberty recommends $8. I guess that 10 cents difference is a MAJOR OOPS on my part? As I also pointed out the bonus is dangled, I'm aware of a few franchise's that had zero profit, and did not have the means to pay it. Personally, I think $8 an hour is an insult. We start our wavers with $10, and they get a bonus too!
Floansteiner, apparently you are new to this board. I've slammed Block many times for it's bad policies. The one thing I have noticed, is any criticism of Liberty is considered hate speech, and considered a reason to quit. It's like shut up or don't work there! Instead of admitting Liberty has problems in their tax courses and doesn't do as well as Block it should be hidden from public knowledge? I've read Liberty's message board a few times, and noticed how fast posters attack the messenger calling them stupid or worst if their franchise failed. It must be 100% their own fault. WELL, that's not how real life works............. businesses don't make it for a variety of reasons from location to not having enough money to survive the first couple years. I hate that Liberty looks down on those who fail. It certainly was not their intention! I hate that Liberty recommends min. wage for newbies. Shouldn't 66 hours of class, twice that for homework, plus many more hours of learning the computer software be worth more than flipping hamburgers? Just because it doesn't apply to me, or our office, doesn't mean I have to like it. How much loyalty can a business owner expect if he thinks his staff is only worth min. wage? Maybe a bonus dangled in front of them, and OOPS, maybe not. Most workers need paychecks for week to week living, not some promised money 3-4 months later.
Now, if you want to get into software problems Liberty has, I will need a whole new page! If I heard "just over ride it" one more time.......................I hope my coworkers will excuse the cussing! I have 35 years of experience, how about all the others that have NO idea the software was giving the wrong info?
Agree, Wishful. Block not only has the #1 brand name, but has proven it can survive thru bad economy times, lawsuits, bad management, higher prices, and constant competition that moves right next door. We were trained to think of ourselves as #1. Block has the resources to land on it's feet, no matter what is thrown at them. Few Franchises have the cash reserve to make it thru a couple bad years. Block also has a bigger advertising budget that's coast to coast keeping their brand name out front. It gets me mad seeing those dumb door hanger advertisements on my front door. My hands are usually full, meaning I have to go back out side to peel them off to throw them away. They're worst than junk mail, and cause my 2 dogs to bark their heads off when a stranger is in my front yard. Every year I can count on Liberty to put one there.
I've now been at Liberty for 10 years, and can say without doubt Block does have better trained preparers, with a higher standard for rehire. I seem to take the same tax certification test every year at Liberty, (without having to open a book) and some of their tax courses only devote a page or two to complex tax situations, and don't have a practice problem to reinforce what we just read. We have to go outside Liberty to get the tax courses that Block offers for 20 bucks, and pay $300-400. While I sincerely believe Liberty will grow and be successful, I also believe it will never catch up to the #1 brand. A franchise can only last while the money is good, a losing year can devastate them to bankruptcy! AND there usually isn't another Liberty close enough by for preparers to move to, or if there is, it's already fully staffed. Which gives Block preparers more security that an office might close, but they'll still have their job.
Wishful, you are NOT taking into account that people who can do this are folks that have "other" incomes, like widow SS benefits, or living with a partner that pays most if not all of the household expense. MOST single Moms I know, do have a live in partner that is employed. I know all the statistic show this poor gal with 2-4 kids struggling to make it on their own, or have some guy mooching off them cause they're desperate for companionship, but that's not always the case. Many of my single Mom clients see NO benefit in marriage, as the government does a much better financial job for them, because a partners income is NOT taken in consideration for household income limits on EIC, or any other government welfare program. Government hand outs has become a lifestyle to those who know how to tap its resources. It is NOT fraud if one is following the rules to qualify for EIC. Have one client that gets $6,000 a month in child support, usually has 2-3 W2's every year, and always asks how much she can earn to get the Max EIC next year. NOT all EIC clients NEED the money, but they do know how to qualify and take what they believe the government WANTS them to have.
CF you are correct, and it does appear there is less disgruntled employees. Maybe because the lowering of pay has been going on for so long, it's an accepted practice? That more Block courses are computer based, and not classroom with an instructor? Or maybe just the high unemployment has made many just happy to have a job, even if it's only seasonal and doesn't pay well, it can qualify some to collect unemployment benefits up to 26 weeks after tax season. 30 years ago, had a couple gals that collected SS widow benefits, and would only work long enough to earn XX # of dollars, so they wouldn't lose any. Today I know a few who only want to earn enough to get the EIC and will put up with a lot of #$%$ when it only takes a 3 month job to do so.
Well said, wishful. My family jokingly accused me of "eating, sleeping, and living for taxes". If I wasn't working or teaching a class, I'd be doing research, constantly looking for more tax knowledge. There were 5 of us that gathered around my kitchen table at least once a week, doing homework together, discussing taxes, picking each others brains. The loyalty to Block demanded we absorb as much tax knowledge as possible. I started a new class and called it "Solutions Unlimited", where 8-10 of us went to office twice a week in the off season, inviting all Block coworkers to come join us with tax questions, that we would answer, or research till we had the answer. It was an amazing eye-opening class, since many questions involved forms we seldom if ever used at our jobs. I honestly wish the newcomers to Block could have known the real Block, where we were praised, and valued. Where we wrote returns, had them checked, copied and assembled by others, because our time was devoted to the interview & doing returns, not answering phones, being receptionist, or standing in front of the copy machine, or trying to sell a product. If we had spare time between clients we checked our coworkers returns. It helped reinforce our knowledge. Our yearly banquets were fantastic sit down dinners where the DM would honor each and everyone of us, thanking us for being part of the team. Not threatening to fire us for not selling enough products, like they do today. BUT, maybe I'm being ridiculous in expecting the same treatment today . I guess Block went the same as the changing of gas stations, where you pulled up and had someone fill your tank, wash the window, and check the oil, and thank you for coming. Cost more now, and it's self service.and no one cares if you shop there or not.
Newbies were being paid $10 an hour when I left 10 years ago! Is it only $9 now? That's horrible! 10 years ago, gas was under $2 a gallon!
We only got min. wage during off season, and for any paid classes, but otherwise starting pay was $10, and I remember one newbie got a $1,500+ bonus.
Not always stupid, wishful. Had client that owed the big bucks every single year, could NOT talk him into estimated payments. According to him, he said he invested the money that would have gone to IRS, and made more on his investments than the cost of penalty and interest. Since he got richer every year, it apparently worked for him.
Plus to owe or get a refund should be a very personal choice. People that are savers like to break even, people that don't save will never put that extra few bucks in the bank, and enjoy the "forced" savings that
allows them a good size refund once a year that can pay off a credit card, or take a vacation.
I usually ask, when I do a W4, will you put $20 a week in savings, or will you buy an extra pizza or t-shirt with it? It's like a "light bulb" goes off, and they opt for extra withholdings. With the average savings accounts paying less than 1% interest, it's not like they're losing anything with letting Uncle Sam hold it. NOT only that, but trying to open a new savings account for high school age grandchild, who has her first job, bank said there will be a $7 a month charge till account is over $300. Made sense to go Single Zero, and let IRS hold her savings, where hopefully she'll have a $300 refund to open the account next year.
Amazing what a yo-yo this stock is. I think it was 1983 when I bought my first shares taking advantage of their option plan, and every year thereafter when it was too good to pass up. I don't actively watch it, as it was a "someday" tucked away for my old age kind of "nest egg". Now due to splits and 4 times a year dividend reinvestment, I can't imagine what my basis would be. Instead of being a treasure for my old age, it's become a treasure for my next of kin, or handing IRS 20% of it, plus paying the state. Kind of weird how its tax free for next to kin, but me who took the risk, IRS demands a basis. Nice of them to be so generous after I'm dead.
Reading buy verse lease, took me back to 20 years ago when I had my sights on the car of my dreams. After picking it out I was escorted to the upstairs office, where the manager, the salesman, and bookkeeper surrounded me giving me a sales pitch of why I should lease it. This meeting lasted for over an hour, and my polite NO thank you was falling on deaf ears. Explaining I had a check in my purse to purchase this car, didn't shut them up. I left in a huff, went across the street to another dealership and bought the first car that had all the bells and whistles I wanted. I still feel cheated to this day about not getting my dream car, and have never gone back to that brand of car.
It brings back many memories of our RAL clients. The guy that kicked the wall down when his check wasn't there, the guy that threatened a preparer for "flagging him" when his refund was kept for child support, the guy that banged his fist on my desk screaming at the top of his lungs, the gal that made a huge scene,crying and screaming saying she'll sue us, as she had already mailed out checks to pay her bills believing she
could deposit her refund loan that day. I'm sure all offices had these type incidents being done in front of a room full of clients. Many were refused the next day check, and had temper tantrums hearing they had to wait 2 weeks, and were sure it was OUR fault! Many believed getting the next day loan would stop IRS from keeping their refund due to child support, student loan, etc., as they lied about owing it on the loan app.
Did years of RAL, followed by a lawsuit Block was overcharging the poor with 3 digit interest rates, do damage, when non-RAL clients were witness to it? Did it run them off, making us look bad? Didn't Block have Holiday loans just a couple years ago? Did RALs taint the brand's reputation to the higher end clients who witnessed these incidents? Probably yes.
Yes, wishful, instructor pay has always been low. One year we got a "bonus" which added an increase for the number of students in a class over a certain number. It near doubled my pay for a basic class. They only did it for one year. The more advanced classes got paid more, to encourage us, and there were many years I would teach up to 10 different courses over a 6 month period, plus having to take classes to be rehired.
Being an instructor only gave us XXX # of points towards rehire.
We were told we were privileged to be chosen, and the majority of us did work off-season, or in the quality control department of checking returns. (before it was closed down)
For a couple years new instructors were chosen for the highest number of POM's sold, which wasn't Block's best idea, as many did not have enough tax knowledge, and the failure rate on the final exam hurt the count of newbies that could be hired. One instructor cheated on the final exam, giving answers and NO ONE could be hired from his class, and none of the hours spent in his class counted towards rehire.
Pay for off season work has always been min. wage and it was also considered a privilege to be chosen. ONE year I actually earned vacation pay by going over 1,000 hours with working off season and teaching many classes, and it shocked me. It also allowed me to join their 401K plan, that I think Block gave a 25 cent match for a couple years. For a few years I was on profit sharing, and used to get yearly statements that I had XXX # of dollars and was XXX # of years vested. Before I became fully vested it disappeared and I got NOTHING but a letter saying the money would be divided up to be given to full time staff. SO, yes, Block has been playing the "less for the preparer" game for over 30 years that I'm aware of. They counted on our loyalty, and our love of the job and kept asking us to do more work for less money till they broke us.
IMHO Block does keep shooting itself in the foot with pay modification. I think any one with a skill in any trade who can find a higher paying job has and will move on. Turn-over in stores and restaurant's has always been high, as its not a one on one service that builds a relationship. Block does NOT follow up or interview those who quit, in fact shows no interest in keeping them, and has an attitude that they'll save money by replacing them with a newbie. ANY ONE that does taxes, knows how a newbie struggles, having never been introduced to many forms and schedules. Many of them don't know how to fill out their own W4! There is a TON of money to be made in tax prep, some years better than others, but it takes a lot of experience getting to the $400-900 returns, and once a preparer is capable of doing them why any company would "modify" their pay or not bend over backwards to keep them is stupidity at its finest.
CF Ditto! You have great insight into the tax prep business and are always a pleasure to read.