by Carly Lombardo
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TaxPro Financial may have a no-suit-and-tie environment and a no-frills atmosphere in an office on New Yorks famed Broadway. But the Manhattan-based firm bows to no one in its sophistication.
"We have amended work done by the Big Four firms all the way down to the chain stores and H&R Block," says owner Steve Sabba. "With fees that are far below the Madison Avenue accounting firm rate, our clients love what we do, and dont care what we wear."
The TaxPro Financial Network client roster has grown from six individuals and one business to three thousand individuals and a hundred businesses since Sabba founded it in 1991.
Vendor loyalty has proved a major catalyst to this expansion. TaxPro uses Lacerte Tax Software to prepare returns and manages clients financial data with QuickBooks. "Its our firms policy to be a 100-percent Intuit shop," says Sabba. "We are able to handle our volume because of the technology--not to mention, it allows us to take on another 10 business clients and 400 individual clients each year."
Intuit, which owns Lacerte and QuickBooks, rewards the loyalty. "The consistency of remaining with one vendor is as critical as a client remaining with one accountant, attorney, physician, or financial planner," says Sabba. "They get to know you and the support is phenomenal."
Any new client who uses accounting software other than QuickBooks is encouraged to switch. "No one has ever found a good reason to stick with Peachtree or MAS 90 after my convincing argument," says Sabba, who believes QuickBooks is more user-friendly and has superior integration with other packages.
With annual revenue of approximately $1 million, TaxPro (www.taxpro.com) has grown no less than 33 percent annually for the last five years. The firms New York headquarters has expanded three times and a satellite office in Los Angeles opened in 1998. The New York office now has two senior and three junior accountants, while the L.A. branch employs two senior accountants.
TaxPro provides small businesses start-up support, mid-to-high-income individual accounting services, individual and business tax return preparation, payroll services, and QuickBooks training and support. Besides celebrities, clients include business and investment professionals, attorneys, and physicians.
Sabba credits his joining the QuickBooks ProAdvisor Program with not having to focus on luring new clients. He has never had to advertise. "The programs referral database is so vast that people come in faster than we can deal with them," he says.
TaxPros typical new business client has either done the accounting and/or filed tax returns themselves, or has used another firm and been dissatisfied with the results. The firm provides QuickBooks training to help clients maintain records and corrects existing data. He is proud of his firms "unsurpassed attention to detail and surprisingly low fee structure." The average corporate tax returns are only $1,000, and individual returns are approximately $350. He also has a thriving business in QuickBooks training.
"I prefer to do this at my office because I use my own data file as the prototype, but I can certainly teach several staff members at another company, which I have done"--even for Intuit itself at its former Stamford, Conn. facility, notes Sabba. He bills $150 per hour, which is divided among the number of individuals/companies taking the class.
Clients Around the World
Sabba has hundreds of clients around the world, including London, India, Turkey, and Toronto. Most have either lived here and moved to another country or have been referred by U.S. residents.
Sabba does most of his international business by e-mail and instant messaging, and forms are sent via fax or scanned as PDFs.
Furthermore, TaxPro has had a Web site for the past three years, and Sabba claims "it was never meant to attract new business; we do well enough with personal referrals. It is supposed to be an information center for our existing clients." Thats about to change. "A team of experts, all of whom are also clients," is overhauling it, he notes.
Carly Lombardo is Assistant Editor of Accounting Technology and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org .