Alright – so today we’ve got the honor of introducing you to Charles Read. We think you’ll enjoy our conversation, we’ve shared it below.
Charles, thanks for taking the time to share your stories with us today We’d love to hear about the early days of establishing your own firm. What can you share?
The wife (Ruth) and I started the firm over 30 years ago now. I was a veteran that found business to not value military experience, then as now. I went to North Texas and earned my credentials. A BBA and an MBA, sat for and passed my CPA exam on my first try while still in graduate school. Work in the corporate world for fifteen years. Large corporations, small corporation, family firms, turnarounds, startups and more; great experience. Realized I was never going to run a major corporation, I did not have the political skills. So, if I was to run a business it would have to be my own. Ruth and I were in full agreement. We bought what was the original office of Financial Express a mobile accounting franchise. The franchisor went belly up in less than a year. We changed the name and kept on going. We worked 70 to 80 hours a week to get the business going and did not take a vacation for at least 10 years. Shortly after we started our eldest daughter came to live with us while undergoing treatment for what was a fatal ovarian cancer. We survived that and kept going.
I lost Ruth to a series of strokes seven years ago but kept the firm going with the help of my staff through her hospitalizations and disabilities. Without my dedicated staff Ihe company would not have survived.
My biggest mistake was not to create a marketing department much earlier. When I did, I realize just how poor at marketing I was. I knew though my contacts in the accounting profession that accountants were poor marketers. I was much superior in marketing to most of the CPAs I met. However, being better at marketing than most CPAs is not a high bar. When I hired a marketing professional, I really learned what marketing can do. I really wish I had realized that much earlier.
As far as advice. If you want to be an entrepreneur, go for it. If you don’t, don’t. Being an entrepreneur to me is extremely satisfying. But it is not easy. One of the things that an entrepreneur has to learn about business is not to work in your business. Work on your business! That is not sophistry. It is a requirement to be a growing successful business. You can make a living working in a business because you created yourself a job. That is not the same as creating a business.
Charles, before we move on to more of these sorts of questions, can you take some time to bring our readers up to speed on you and what you do?
Custom Payroll Associates, Inc. goes to market now as GetPayroll. It was a change to have a more relevant brand a number of years ago. We provide payroll and payroll related services to small and medium sized business around the country.
Our unique selling proposition is compliance. We work very hard to keep our clients compliant with the tax laws in all the jurisdictions they operate in. However, the various government agencies make a huge number of mistakes every year. In FY19 the IRS issued over 13 billion dollars in employment tax penalties. 40% of small businesses get a penalty every year which averages over $800.00. Billions of dollars of these penalties were reversed by people who understood that they were mistakes. Billions more should have been. Part of the so-called tax gap is covered by over penalizing businesses that don’t have the knowledge or expertise to object.
That is where we come in. As a CPA I can take file, signed by a client, an IRS form 2848 Limited Power of Attorney. This allows me to advocate directly with the IRS for my client. This allows me to correct mistakes that the client would otherwise have to pay. I know how to work with the IRS. I know how to appeal these erroneous penalties. I know how to set up meetings and hearing under the Internal Revenue Codes and regulations to get my client’s case heard. Dealing with the IRS is like sales, a whole series of noes followed by a single yes. I know how to get that yes. A number of years ago to further be effective for my clients I became a non-attorney United Staes Tax Court Practitioner. There are a few hundred of us in the country. This allows me to represent my clients in US Tax Court without being an attorney or charging like one. So, if all else fails in trying to get a mistake reversed through the IRS internal systems I can for a cost of $60.00 file a petition with the US Tax Court for my client. This gets them a whole new bite at the apple. with a whole new set of players. In addition, 95% of all US Tax Court cases are settled before trial.
It comes down to insurance. You carry insurance on your car, your house and maybe your life. You hope you don’t ever need them, but you pay for them just in case. We provide that “Insurance” for your payroll as part of our regular very competitive pricing (our competitors don’t provide it at any price). You may never need it, but if you do, it is there!
How do you keep in touch with clients and foster brand loyalty?
We are in our client’s pocket every payroll. We are paranoid about that. We want our clients not only to be happy but to be loyal. We bend over backward for our clients and always have. It is the raised I was raised in the family business that my father started.
We communicate with our clients all the time. We send out updates about what we do, what is happening in the industry, what is happening in government, cautionary tales of other businesses that have got into trouble. We have a you tube channel as well where we post educational videos all the time. We also do some fun videos such as “The God Father” and””2001 A Space Odessey” parodies and more. Our Christmas and Halloween videos are a hoot.
We also answer the phone and emails as quickly as possible. Unlike our competitors if you want to talk to the “Boss” ask for Charles. If I am in the office, I will talk to you. If I am not, I will call you back as quickly as possible. We believe in customer service. Communication and education are as much as part of customer service asd delivering a perfect payroll on time every time.
We often hear about learning lessons – but just as important is unlearning lessons. Have you ever had to unlearn a lesson?
After high school and working for a few months, I joined the United Staes Marine Corps. I spent four years in the Corps. Two years overseas including a combat tour in Viet Nam.
One of the things about military service is that it is very hierarchical. Everyone is superior or subordinate to everyone else. You either jump for them or they jump for you.
It does not work that way in civilian life. I had to unlearn that. My wife Ruth was very patient and understanding and worked with me for many years to overcome that military indoctrination. She was a real people person. Everybody loved her. She was a wonderful asset in dealing with clients and taught me how to be much better at it.
- Website: www.getpayroll.com
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/getpayroll/
- Facebook: http://facebook.com/getpayroll
- Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/company/10964861/
- Twitter: http://twitter.com/getpayroll
- Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCxs-_RwC9NgfUcqbwvEaMIQ
Charles J. Read