Florida-based G.I. Tax has given themselves a seemingly impossible mission; to make tax offices comfortable and fun. And if clients’ children are anything to go by, they are succeeding.
“We have kids, when it’s time to go, they don’t want to go. They do the whole ‘limp noodle’ thing because they don’t want to leave. Where in the world does a kid come into a tax office and doesn’t want to leave and makes his parents drag him out?” said Glenn Sandler, founder and CEO of G.I. Tax. “That’s what we’ve created.”
Sandler noted that the general public tends to be scared at the thought of doing their taxes and he wants to flip that on its head. People who are due to get a tax return should be flocking to tax offices in January, he noted, but they might not drift in until October because of the fear they have of all things tax-related. That’s why G.I. Tax goes out of its way to make their offices comfortable with features like video games, coffee machines, kids’ activities, free sunglasses and more.
For branding, Sandler chose to go with a patriotic theme. “We bleed red, white and blue,” he said. “We have red, white and blue furniture, we have American flags, we have jingles, we have G.I. Tax M&Ms, we have branded water. When people walk in, they say: ‘I can’t believe this is a tax office.’ We have the constitution on the wall, the Declaration of Independence and we have the Pledge of Allegiance on the wall and the words to the Star Spangled Banner. If you bleed America, you will love doing business with us.”
In addition to making a fun environment for their clients, they also donate $5 for every tax return they prepare to support military and veterans charities. “Last year we did 4,000 tax returns and we just wrote a check for $20,000 to be split between five different charities,” Sandler said.
The CEO’s ultimate goal is to have 1,000 franchises throughout the country and be able to donate between $10-20 million per year to veterans and children’s charities. With their corporate location in Melbourne, FL and a couple of franchise locations thus far, G.I. Tax is already getting known for its charitable contributions and now charities are lining up to get on the franchise’s list of recipients.
A certified public accountant, Sandler started G.I. Tax in 2012 with the intent of franchising it. However, he wanted to hold off on selling franchises until he had the operation perfected. Now that they have their franchising system the way they like it, G.I. Tax is ready to welcome franchisees. So far, they have a franchise location open in West Melbourne, about five miles from the corporate office, another one being built in Denver, CO, and one in Littleton, CO, just south of Denver.
They are also courting potential franchisees in Maryland and California right now and hope to have 10 franchise locations sold by the close of 2020. Franchisees interested in buying a G.I. Tax location should be entrepreneurial and want to have a significant return on their investment while dealing with professional people, Sandler explained.
Unlike other franchises that require a lot of equipment and inventory, a G.I. Tax franchise requires just an inexpensive buildout with no inventory and only a small amount of overhead like computers and office furniture.
While the tax return aspect of the business can scare some people, Sandler noted, everyone has to pay taxes, which makes G.I. Tax recession-proof. “The relationship you develop with your customers is unbelievable and it’s an unbelievable business,” he said. “You buildup a lot of trust with your customers and basically you’re their financial consultant all year long.”
As long as you show your customers you care about them and their families and their finances and you hold yourself up to a high professional standard, you’re likely to
succeed with a G.I. Tax franchise, Sandler noted.
In order to talk with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), you need to be a certified public accountant or an enrolled agent licensed by the IRS, Sandler said. You can take a 40-hour class to become an enrolled agent and become licensed by the IRS to do tax returns. “So, it’s not a lot of education or certification, but it will set you apart from everyone else and you’ll be able to talk to the IRS and take care of your customers,” he said.
Sandler said he would love for veterans to become franchise owners with G.I. Tax.
“It would be the perfect transition into the workforce for them,” he noted. Veterans who are interested in buying a franchise get a discount on their franchise fee. In addition to giving opportunities to veterans, they also make good franchisees because they are used to training and working hard, Sandler said, and they are disciplined. “If we can load up our franchise with people who have work ethic like veterans have, it’ll be good for our franchise and good for our customers,” the CEO said.
In keeping with the military theme, G.I. Tax offers Basic Training, which includes learning G.I. Taxware and going through G.I. Tax Boot Camp. Franchisees aretrained how to use the franchise’s tax software to prepare returns. For training, franchisees go down to Florida for a week and when their locations open, representatives from G.I. Tax will go to their location and help them get up and running.
Preparing taxes is often the easiest thing to teach new franchisees, Sandler noted. “What we have to teach our franchisees is how to drive traffic and take care of their customers. We have a theory; everyday is a grand opening.” That means making sure your location is clean and inviting every single day and making sure people are comfortable when
they come in.
In addition to training, G.I. Tax also provides administrative support and helps franchisees with their social media, their websites and provides training on how to hire the right people. With their strong branding, their charitable endeavors and a focus on making tax preparation comfortable and fun, G.I. Tax seems well on its way to reaching its goal of 1,000 franchises across the country.