H&R Block said Monday that it plans to add another 100 franchise locations to its 11,000-office network.
The additional offices will expand on a larger expansion initiative that Block has been pursuing. Last year the tax prep chain added over 120 franchise locations.
Block plans to grow its 55-year-old franchise network via two business models. One will focus on independent tax business owners who want to join its franchise network. The other model is aimed at owners who are ready to retire or are looking for an exit strategy and want to sell their businesses.
“Since the IRS has increased training and testing requirements, now is an ideal time to get operational help and support,” said H&R Block senior vice president for retail tax operations and franchise development Amy McAnarney in a statement. “We have been working closely to monitor and provide feedback to the IRS as it develops and tests the requirements program. In addition, we have several training curriculums designed to help our tax professionals and franchisees prepare for and pass these competency exams.”
The IRS has been stiffening its requirements for tax preparers through mandatory registration, testing continuing education, and even fingerprinting requirements (see IRS to Begin Fingerprinting Tax Preparers).
Block has been facing its own challenges this year, including changes in both the CEO and chairman jobs. Earlier this month, the company announced that it would not offer refund anticipation loans next year (see H&R Block Exits RAL Business). Block was unable to offer the lucrative loans this past tax season after its RAL partner, HSBC, was ordered by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency to stop providing them.
H&R Block currently has more than 4,300 franchise locations. On average, an H&R Block franchisee owns three locations and has been with the company more than 19 years, according to Block. Franchise owners operate their locations independently. They can set their own pricing, hire their own tax professionals and develop local marketing and business growth plans.
Last year, Block increased its new client base by nearly 19 percent, according to McAnarney. To help franchisees win new clients, Block offers an “assisted acquisition program” that helps franchisees identify acquisition opportunities and provides them with financial support by paying up to 80 percent of the purchase price.
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