For most small-business owners and entrepreneurs, managing the books is not their number-one priority. Beyond the many details of running their business day-to-day, their focus is on customer acquisition and retention, hiring and keeping the best employees, and maintaining a positive relationship with their lenders and suppliers. Ideally, entrepreneurs are working on the business, not in it – on growing it – certainly not on getting bogged down in the weeds.
Some of those “weeds,” if left unattended, can bring a business down: the nitty-gritty of taxes, compliance, accounting, bookkeeping, and payroll. Even those skilled in these areas would do well to spend their time on higher-level activities – which is why they “hire out” to third-party specialists, from accountants to payroll companies to attorneys and more.
“One of the main reasons small businesses fail is that they lose track of their accounting work,” says Steve Rafsky, CEO of Loyalty Business Services (LBS). Rafsky joined Loyalty Brands, the parent company of LBS, in 2020 to help build this emerging franchise brand, which specializes in small-business accounting services tailored to the unique needs of small businesses.
“We are a tax, payroll, compliance, and business advisory firm focused on helping small-business owners stay focused on running their businesses more successfully,” says Rafsky. LBS does this by providing a comprehensive suite of services that:
- Help clients stay focused on what they need year-round
- Keep compliance routine, not an issue or a worry
- Offer expert tax advice and planning throughout the year
- Prepare accurate and timely reports and filings before they are due
- Provide timely business advice previously limited to large corporations that could lead to substantial cost savings.
Before coming to Loyalty Brands, Rafsky was Chair and CEO at Padgett Business Services, where he led the company’s 300-office network of franchised locations in the U.S. and Canada. He remains active with the International Franchise Association (IFA) and currently serve as Vice Chair of the IFA’s Franchise Relations Committee.
“After all my years in this field, I’m very excited to be building a new brand that can help small-business owners in the $1 million to $5 million revenue range. We take the stress out of small businesses by making sure the book work is done every month, accurately, on time, and at an affordable price,” says Rafsky.
Backed by experience, part of a group
The parent company of LBS, Loyalty Brands, was founded by John Hewitt in 2018. Hewitt, a serial tax preparation entrepreneur, co-founded Jackson Hewitt in the 1980s and later founded Liberty Tax Service. Today, both are successful franchise brands.
As LBS kicked off its franchising campaign in May with a Virtual Discovery Day, potential franchisees learned they would become part of a group of related franchised businesses they could refer clients to — or even purchase themselves:
- ATAX – a full-service national tax preparation and business services franchise that is 100% Latino-owned and serves clients in both Spanish and English. Services include personal taxes, business taxes, bookkeeping, payroll, and incorporation.
- First Choice Business Brokers – a nationwide network of more than 100 brokers and agents and an Entrepreneur Franchise 500-ranked business opportunity. First Choice is one of the largest business brokers in the U.S., with 32 franchise offices in 15 states, offering more than $7.5 billion in businesses listed for sale.
“Loyalty’s growing list of brands provides an opportunity for LBS franchisees to participate in as many of the concepts as they choose – with significant incentives to do so,” says Rafsky.
LBS franchisees also can tap into the in-house expertise and leading-edge software of the parent company and give their clients access to the high level of small-business expertise from the deep bench of experts at corporate headquarters — allowing them to become an independent business owner with the security of a large company backing them up.
“Most recently,” says Rafsky, “we’ve struck deals with several high-end vendors that allow us to provide state-of the-art software that typically could cost a CPA or a small accounting firm between $30,000 and $40,000 if they were to purchase it individually.” The packages — which include QuickBooks Online, Thomson Reuters Onvio, and Thomson Reuters UltraTax — are provided to each LBS franchisee as part of their royalty expense. “These additional capabilities will help franchisees optimize their time and management to produce more work and increase their revenue,” he says.
In its search for franchisees, LBS is seeking to attract entrepreneurs with an ability to market and sell, not just sit in a back office and work the computer. And while experience in business and business services and is a definite plus, it’s not a requirement to become an LBS franchisee, says Rafsky. For this type of franchisee, hiring the expertise in-house at their franchise location, backed by the professionals at corporate, is another way to succeed with the brand.
A third type of candidate is conversions: professionals already in the business who are looking to become part of a larger organization, rather than continue as solopreneurs or independent businesses. Already expert in their field, these franchise prospects can augment their services, add the technical capabilities and industry-leading software of the parent company, and collaborate with the two sister brands when that would help their customers achieve their business goals: First Choice Business Brokers for buying or selling a business, or referring Spanish-only speakers to ATAX, for example.
Another differentiator for LBS is its consultative, relationship-based approach to working with clients, as well as for them. Franchisees, armed with their own entrepreneurial mindset, will work collaboratively as advisors to help clients develop and manage their goals, partnering with them for both everyday compliance and long-term success.
As the economy struggles to turn around in the wake of Covid-19 and small-business owners fight to survive, expert advice on business, tax preparation, and regulatory and legal compliance, along with related services, could be what makes the difference. A robust family of related business services, backed by technological leadership and decades of experience, is sure to be a winning combination for years to come.