Facing Challenges – Creating Solutions
The Challenge: Melding two management styles and different levels of experience into a single, client-focused tax practice.
The Solution: Recognizing that clients have differing needs, firms need a careful blend of professionalism, responsiveness and quality. Plus strong partnerships both inside and outside of the firm.
If there is such a thing as a romantic tax practice, it surely is a cornerstone of Tom and Beanna’s Whitlock Tax Service, LLC in Reno, NV. A Texas boy away from home for the first time to attend trade school in Oklahoma City, he met Beanna when she was still in high school – the two of them children of Air Force service members. He grew up in in Paris, TX (“Only I thought he meant he grew up in Paris, France,” laughs Beanna.”) but moved to the larger city for school. She asked if his intentions were honorable, and they were married just out of high school. This marks their 46th year together.
Tom likes classic cars and Texas Hold ‘Em Poker. Beanna likes working with professional publications and forms instructions. He took an early retirement from a career in electronics with Texas Instruments and Motorola. She took her first accounting job for an enrolled agent in her new home town of Sherman, TX. Two people with differing interests, differing skills and different careers.
But all that changed after Tom retired from electronics. Still wanting to stay busy, he took Beanna’s advice and enrolled in a tax course and found that he enjoyed preparing taxes. After passing all of the training programs, he went to work for them.
That, too, changed shortly after. In 2003, Beanna was appointed the Director of National Public Liaison for Internal Revenue Service in Washington, DC. The new position required that she stop preparing taxes for clients, so Tom stepped in to take over the tax practice.
The changes proved to be a life-altering experience for both. Tom took over the tax preparation and IRS representation business, and focused on preparing about 400 individual, corporate, partnership and franchise returns for clients located the world over. The clients use email, postal mail, UPS or delivery services to transmit their tax information to the firm. All but two of the returns each year are filed electronically.
Two years ago, the couple moved their practice to the Sierra Mountains north of Reno, Nevada, and resumed their partnership.
Their firm is open year-around, though only four days a week outside of tax season. Beanna arrives around 5 am, to better serve clients in the Eastern and Central time zones; Tom arrives later but also stays later. But that is not the only difference in their styles.
Beanna runs a tax professional web site – www.ncpeFellowship.com where tax professionals can get the tools they need to have a successful tax practice and assist their clients. She publishes a monthly on-line newsletter to her members. Celebrating the 4th anniversary of the Fellowship, membership continues to grow. She has been a tax law instructor for 35 years, making presentations to various tax professional groups. In 2014 she will retire from the lecture circuit and will teach her final tax classes for Auburn University in Alabama, where she has taught for the past nine years, and will continue to write tax articles.
She describes herself as a Type-A personality, with great organizational skills. Her obituary is already written and in her top right hand drawer. She can, she says, multi-task with the best of them. She has been honored by Accounting Today Magazine as “One of the 100 Most Influential People in Accounting” for 7 years in a row.
Tom, for his part, is single-minded and purposeful, with a belief that business growth comes not from new clients but rather the expansion of new services to existing clients. With no plans for a second retirement any time soon, the Whitlocks value their personal time as well. This includes an annual vacation with their grown daughters to destinations such as Prague, Budapest and Vienna – and for this year, London for Christmas. Between vacations, they operate a rescue home for dachshunds, and enjoy the antique shops and wineries around Reno.
They also enjoy a strong partnership with Drake Software, which they began using at the recommendation of other tax preparers.
“We reached out to many tax professionals for a suggestion for a new software and the name of Drake kept coming up,” says Tom. Today we would have no problem recommending them to other professionals, based in large measure on their level of responsiveness and the support of their assistors in customer service.’
Two management styles. One successful tax preparation practice. And one great partnership for tax solutions and support in Drake Software.
About Whitlock Tax Service, LLC
From its offices near Reno, NV, Whitlock Tax Service LLC provides professional tax preparation services for individuals, including estates and trusts and businesses that include corporations and partnerships. For further information, visit http://whitlocktax2.oneviewsiteworks.com/page1.aspx