Tax Preparers Put the 'Fun' in Refund

Can gifts, free address labels and $10 referral checks attract customers to a new tax preparation business?

Dave and Jolinda Schreiber, owners of Refunds USA in Albert Lea, Minn., say they are making taxes more fun. After all, as Jolinda puts it, "Going to a tax preparer is like going to the dentist."

According to the Albert Lea Tribune, the couple decided to start a tax business that would emphasize quick but casual service. They offer a $10 check to clients who refer others to their business, 15 address labels and gifts of popcorn, chocolate, office supplies and more.

The idea came from Dave Schreiber, who owns another local tax preparation establishment. He noticed that his clientele wanted their taxes prepared more quickly and thought, "We should start a location for people who want to do things fast."

In opening Refunds USA, the Schreibers welcome walk-ins and guarantee that tax forms will be filed by midnight on the day they are prepared. They offer refund anticipation loans to customers who don’t want to wait weeks for their refund check. The atmosphere is informal — the interior is painted red, white and blue, the eight employees all wear red polo shirts, and the business sign is neon.

After clients have finished their taxes, they can choose a gift. Then, they are given 15 address labels. If another customer shows an address label, the person on the label will receive $10 in the mail. The one who brought the label will get $10 off the tax preparation fee. And a free gift. And 15 labels.

The tax preparers also try to spend more time delving into the financial lives of their clients. "We dig for reductions," Dave said.

He said planning a new venture was frightening at first, but business has been so good that the couple may open more Refund USA businesses in other areas.

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