We love hearing successful business stories.

Ann Hartz, CPA from Des Moines, Iowa worked to grow from a solo practitioner practice with 100 clients to a thriving firm with five full-time employees and 2,000 clients. 

“We all go into business for what we love to do, and I love to do taxes, I really do. But I have to be the president of this business and run the business too,” Ann said about her decision to work with TaxProMarketer in the early years to help build her online presence.

So how did that growth come?

“At least 50-75% of my new business has been from people looking us up and online reviews and that sort of thing.”

Ann liked the fact that TaxProMarketer focuses on tax preparers and CPA firms, even when she kept getting solicitations from other marketing companies saying they could do it better. They say, ‘There’s too many words. People don’t want to read all those words.’ 

But when I have clients come in to meet with me, a lot of them will say to me that it was the website that brought them in. The proof is in the pudding. That website represents me and you’re able to put the information on there that I want. In my business, it’s important to be able to be trusted and that’s what I want to portray. It’s been a great thing.”

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Highlights

  • Ann Hartz, CPA from Des Moines, Iowa worked to grow from a solo practitioner practice with 100 clients to a thriving firm with five full-time employees and 2,000 clients!
  • At least 50-75% of Ann’s new business was from online searches and reviews.
  • Ann loves that TaxProMarketer built a website that’s a reflection of her CPA business specifically.

Connect with Nate Hagerty

This episode is brought to you by TaxProMarketer, a leading marketing agency serving CPA & tax firms. It was established in May of 2007 in response to increased demand for real-world, relationship-building (and profit-producing) marketing tools for use in the tax and accounting industry.

Currently, TaxProMarketer serves clients all across the United States and Canada who use their services to build relationships with their prospects & existing clients, as well as to grow the value of their business (for immediate cashflow and future sale-ability) by utilizing the following tools: a relational email marketing program, social media feed program, local listings management & optimization, and creating full “online marketing machines” for clients (which include SEO-optimized, conversion-centric custom websites).

TaxProMarketer is an Infusionsoft Certified Partner and a Digital Marketer Certified Agency.

Full Transcript from the Podcast

Nate Hagerty 0:01
All right. I am Nate Hagerty, CEO of TaxProMarketer, and I have a longtime client and friend, Ann Hartz, here with me. And she’s agreed to tell a little bit of her story of working with us. And before we get into that, Ann, could you just introduce yourself more fully? Talk about your firm and the services you provide?

Ann Hartz 0:23
Yeah. My name’s Ann Hartz and my business is Ann Hartz CPA and Associates. This coming tax season is my 10th year since I opened up. And we do…my tagline is…we do…we’re a one stop shop for small businesses. We do payroll, taxes, and bookkeeping, but we obviously do individual taxes as well. Our focus is on small businesses, particularly 20 or fewer employees. We like to help startups. We help people get their businesses started, and then that kind of rolls right into payroll. And obviously, I think it’s important to start off on the right foot. So then we can offer the bookkeeping services.

Nate Hagerty 1:09
So, you’re a full service firm? You do it all, seems like?

Ann Hartz 1:12
Absolutely. Yep. Yep. And currently…oh dear, did I lose it? Are you there?

Nate Hagerty 1:18
No, I’m here. I’m here.

Ann Hartz 1:19
Now, my screen went away. I don’t know what happened. Okay, there it is.

Nate Hagerty 1:24
That’s okay.

Ann Hartz 1:26
We…I don’t know where. I lost my train of thought.

Nate Hagerty 1:28
You said currently…

Ann Hartz 1:28
We have five full time employees, and then we hire up to five additional temporary tax preparers during tax season. And when I started out 10 years ago, it was just me, so I’ve grown considerably over the last 10 years.

Nate Hagerty 1:47
We’ve been a part of this growth. You’ve been a client of ours, I mean, we’re recording this here in 2021. And we were just looking this up to figure it out between ourselves, we met almost eight years ago, and you’ve been a client of ours since 2013. So, talk about how you got involved with us, and your decision process as you did.

Ann Hartz 2:12
I went early on (again, it was just me), I went to an accounting conference in Las Vegas at the Flamingo that Celine Omar put on, and you were one of the speakers. And I was very green and just starting out, and I knew I would need, need this. I need a website. I mean, everybody should have a website. But back then, in all honesty, it it was not near what it is now. And I went home from the conference to tell my husband I got a website, and he just thought I wasn’t thinking. And I was like, Bob, this is the way it’s going. This is the way.

Nate Hagerty 2:52
Well, and it was more than a website, but…

Ann Hartz 2:56
Yes, it was. It was much more.

Nate Hagerty 2:56
But I understand that…

Ann Hartz 2:59
I remember him and he…you guys came up with my URL, and that’s cpadesmoines.com. And I have since, you know whenever I talk to people in the, you know, marketing business, because like, how did you think of that? And I was like, I can’t take credit. And honestly, I think that’s been a life saver. I mean, that’s…people are googling, finding a CPA in Des Moines and you know, I don’t you know…

Nate Hagerty 3:26
Yeah, well, what’s interesting is that the URL, when we, when we were doing that back in 2013, that actually mattered a great deal. A few years later, that dynamic shifted, but what’s great is that it’s an awesome URL to be able to tell people because it’s, it’s memorable for people, businesses, and individuals in your area. But it doesn’t actually, it used to, but it doesn’t actually anymore provide any specialized SEO juice. It’s more just, like, some of the other stuff that, you know, you probably don’t even know that we do for you.

Ann Hartz 4:06
I mean, in it, it was a slow kind of churn, you know. But I would attribute at least 50% to 75% of my new business is just from online and just from looking us up from our, our reviews and that kind of thing. And it’s all, you know, and I am so glad that I did it back then in 2013.

Nate Hagerty 4:30
So, yeah, what was, you mentioned, you were, you were starting up. You knew you needed something online. You didn’t even have a website. You had no online presence.

Ann Hartz 4:39
Well, I did have a website that my son put together. You know what I mean? It was pretty plain, and I came home from the conference and just said, “Look, I hope you don’t feel bad, but it’s kind of like…” [you know, he was doing it for free]. And I said I know what it’s like because I do my son’s taxes for free, and you don’t get the attention when you are the family member. So I said, “I don’t want to hurt your feelings, but I’ve hired somebody to do it professionally.” And he was fine with it.

Nate Hagerty 5:11
So, you were a solo practitioner at the time. And since that time, you’ve, you have five full timers now working for you, is that what you said? You were probably just running around with your hair on fire just to keep track of, however, 25, 50 clients at the time, and maybe, maybe more, I don’t know. But now, about how many clients do you serve?

Ann Hartz 5:38
I think last year, we did 2000 tax returns. I mean, with business and personal.

Nate Hagerty 5:43
Right.

Ann Hartz 5:43
And back then it was 100 to 200 maybe.

Nate Hagerty 5:49
Okay.

Ann Hartz 5:49
I remember at the conference, the, you know, it was Celine put up there, you know, these big goals, and I remember, all I could think of is, I just want to be able to pay my bills. I don’t really neeed to be a giant. I just need to pay my bills, you know?

Nate Hagerty 6:05
Well, here you are, a growing empire. So, that’s, that’s really interesting. And you didn’t really have any kind of online tracking of any kind of leads or anything like that. And so, you know, as we’ve implemented things along the way, from a new website, which I believe we’ve updated, even since, you know, you started with us, but also all the kind of extraneous things that we do on your behalf, like the local listings and whatnot. You mentioned reviews. We weren’t even talking about that back then. Now, that’s an enormous part of any online footprint, and the Google My Business component. Have you put anything into place outside of what we do to, to help gather reviews and, and build that process?

Ann Hartz 6:13
Um, we do have, you know, we do, like we give people $5 off if they like us on Facebook. We have little posters or little signs on and things like that. But that’spretty much it. Yeah, I think, in my email address, it says, you know go…

Nate Hagerty 7:18
Show your signature line. Yeah.

Ann Hartz 7:21
But other than that, not that I can think of.

Nate Hagerty 7:25
Yeah, so I mean, I don’t know if you’re comfortable sharing. I mean, people can extrapolate, based on full time staff and number of clients. But I mean, you’re in the close to seven figure range, probably revenue wise, and you were probably barely six figures back in the day.

Ann Hartz 7:44
I was maybe 50, 60. I will tell you the first, probably, three or four years I worked temp job during the offseason. I was not supporting myself 100% of my business.

Nate Hagerty 7:58
Right. So, it was a big expense for you, when you connected to us.

Ann Hartz 8:03
It was. I did a couple of big hits, big expensive things, but knowing, you know, I was in it for the long haul. And I knew it had, I knew I had to, we have to spend money to make money, obviously. And even if you’re not making much, you got to get your name out there somehow. I knew I had to spend the money to get, to get to this point.

Nate Hagerty 8:25
And so, do you have the numbers in front of you? I pulled up the report that we have. But I wondered if you are doing it on your end? Do you and your team track kind of how many new inquiries you guys are getting on a weekly-monthly basis from people looking to have their taxes prepared or a business looking for bookkeeping help or whatever it might be?

Ann Hartz 8:50
I track it, yes. But I don’t track it, I probably don’t track it the way you do. As far as how we get them I do, tracking more how what the increase in revenue and number of returns, you know, how many, you know, more returns do we do this year versus last year. But I haven’t really split those up into what type of returning on.

Nate Hagerty 9:17
So how many new inquiries are you getting per month? You know, from people interested in your services? Do you have an idea?

Ann Hartz 9:25
I would say even on a weekly basis. I probably, and I often do one on one, we do obviously free consultations. I think I usually do 8 to 10 a week as far as appointments, and then we have a lot and that means phone calls as well.

Nate Hagerty 9:45
Right.

Ann Hartz 9:46
Get a lot of calls in general or questions, and what kind of things do you offer? But as far as and once they come in, it feels like, it seems like, if I if I have an appointment they’re pretty locked in. I mean, I usually when they’re here to work with me, and it generally works out that way?

Nate Hagerty 10:07
Well, I would hire you, knowing what I know.

Ann Hartz 10:12
They make an appointment. And usually I have talked to them on the phone and kind of explained our process to them. Once they’re in here, then we’re like filling out paperwork for them.

Nate Hagerty 10:23
Yeah, and what you had said before, real rough numbers, 50 to 75% of that growth you would attribute to what we’ve done on your behalf, which is really encouraging for me to hear. I mean, not unusual.

Ann Hartz 10:38
Yeah, every person that is new that comes in my office, obviously, I don’t see all the new people now. In fact, I’m getting fewer and fewer, because I’m just maxing out. As far as the brand new I get, I do take the new business clients, but but I always ask how do they hear about us, and I mean, it’s, it’s at least 75% of its online. I mean, we we do have one on, you know, mouth to mouth referral, and that kind of thing. But the bulk of it is just, you know, they, they want to see, you know, who’s out there and what, you know, if they’re wanting a CPA in particular, you know, they search for moving. They say, in the end, you know, they always talk about reading the reviews, too. Because you pull up, pull up a CPA, CPAs in Des Moines, and you’re going to get several of them, but finding the ones, you know, then then they kind of weed them out by the reviews. So.

Nate Hagerty 11:30
Yep. So, all this growth, Ann, how has this impacted you, you know, as a person, and as a business leader? I mean, I just, I think about what that life was, like, a decade ago. And I’m not taking all the credit for this, because I can’t, but I just think about the journey.

Ann Hartz 11:52
Yeah.

Nate Hagerty 11:53
The years that we’ve been together,

Ann Hartz 11:55
You have to enjoy the journey. I will tell you, sometimes, I, I and I tell new clients, they’re going into their own business, that we all go into business for what we love to do, and I love to do taxes, I really do. But I found as I’ve grown, I have to be a president of my business. I have to be, I have to run this business, in addition to, and I’m not willing, I’m not willing to be the person that just runs a business and doesn’t do the taxes. And I it’s funny, because from that seminar that I went to, I’ll never forget them saying that you, you really should start a CPA practice and not know how to do a tax return. It’s like, aah. No, I think I put a lot of, it adds a lot more stress on, on my plate, because I insist on continuing to do the taxes and do the work that I love to do, you know. But, I I love having a successful business too. I mean, it’s it’s supported us. I mean, we have a cabin in Minnesota, and I plant. I’ve had, I have what I call two lives. I was married before and was deeply in debt when I got out and had nothing. And my business is basically, this is my second life. And, I’m, if it’s going to help me to be, afford to retire, which I didn’t know, I would be able to, you know.

Nate Hagerty 13:19
Wow. That’s very, that’s wonderful to hear. So, what would you say, Ann, to somebody who is considering using Tax Pro Marketer to help them, you know, build their dream?

Ann Hartz 13:33
Oh, I mean, I think it’s well worth it. And I like the fact that you focus on tax preparers and CPA firms. And, and that’s the, you know, what your niche is. So, you know, that, you know, that’s, that’s the focus, and you’re, it’s very easy to work with, if you want to change things up, which I’ve done several times, since I’ve had it, and you’ve been very helpful. And, you know, and, you know, taking, you know, like, wow, I don’t like this, I don’t like that, and they’ll come back and, and tweak it and make it the way you want you specifically want it. And you know, I’ve had many, many people over the years, you know, and I’m sure you have emails galore about how they could fix it better, and they could do it better. And I had one in particular tell me that, “Oh, all this wording. Nobody wants all this wording. They want pictures and stuff.” But then when they, when I have clients come in, you know, and meet with me, a lot of times they’ll say, it was my website that brought them in. It was the information that was on that website that brought them in, and I just want to go like that. Yeah, it’s much worse on you. And I’m like, trying to sell me a website. And it’s hard for someone who is like me, who I’m not techie. And when you hear, you know, someone who’s supposedly a professional tell you that, “Oh, people don’t like all this work.” You know, I just think, Oh, really? You know, but the proof is in the pudding. You know, when I get people that walk in my office and say, “Now, I really liked your website. I like, you know, what you have to say. And it’s important, I think the other part that I like is the fact that that website represents me and you’re able to put the information on there that I want. In my business, it’s so important to be able to be trusted. And that’s what I want to portray. And I feel like, obviously, it works. I mean, it’s, it’s been, it’s been a great thing, and I’m really glad I stuck my neck out and did it, you know. And I didn’t have really the money to do it at the time, but you just do what you got to do, you know. And like I said, I in the early years had to work for other people during the offseason. But I was determined to make it work, you know. To keep trying, you know. And I even just earlier today, I had to do a class for Iowa Economic Center, and it was about businesses and about, you know, when you want to know how do you start a new business. And one of the biggest things I always say is people think it’s going to be a cake walk, and they think, “Oh, you know, I’ll get to plan my own hours. And you know, I, I’m in charge.” And it’s nothing like that. You know, you work, more hours, and you do have a boss, and it’s your clients. And you know, you have you know, but you know, if it’s not, if the work that you do is what you love, it’s well worth it. And, the other thing I always say is, you have to be persistent, you have to push through and do whatever you have to do to keep it going. It’s not an overnight thing for most people. I mean, yes, you hear about those stories, but it doesn’t happen often.

Nate Hagerty 16:38
No. And that makes the journey and the growth that much more sweet. Because if it, if it, if it’s just this overnight thing, then it’s, it’s like cotton candy. But now, when it grows, you know, and the way that it has for you, it’s like a fine steak. That’s, that’s a far better, more satisfying act of consumption. So, I like this metaphor, I’m a little bit hungry. Well, thank you, Ann. It’s wonderful to get the chance to catch up with you and to hear your story again. I’m so thankful that we could be a part of your journey. And obviously, you know, we, we do all these things on the back end, and are doing our magic behind the scenes with SEO and advertising and email marketing, and Google My Business and all the different local listings and social media and all these things. But it wouldn’t work if you didn’t have the heart of a servant, and you didn’t have the, you know, the kind of business processes and people that you do. Because, you can’t get reviews. You can’t put lipstick on a pig. And, you know, we’ve tried occasionally. But when a CPA or a tax practitioner, like you is interested in building something real, that’s when we start cooking steak together. And really grateful for that, and I’m hungry. Again. I said that I was hungry. I’m hungry. So, thank you so much, Ann. Appreciate you.