HONKAMP KRUEGER UNCOVERING TAX SAVINGS FOR FRANCHISE OWNERS
Honkamp Krueger & Co., P.C. is an old company with a new idea.
Too many franchise organizations are deprived of financial incentives to which they would otherwise be
entitled merely for lack of knowing, according to partner Ryan Hauber.
Unaware of tax savings to which their business is subject, these business owners are simply oblivious of any alternative. It’s why Hauber and his team devised the HK Complimentary TaxGap Review, a program designed to uncover opportunities for franchisors and franchisees to pay less to the government at tax time. And they offer the review for free.
For the last few years, HK, whose clients are franchisees and franchisors from all 50 states, has been spreading the word about its complimentary TaxGap program. Hauber and his partners have toured the country, presenting on this unique offering to individuals involved in franchise operations in dozens of states. He previews how HK tax experts will perform a review of the franchise owners’ tax returns both business and personal and, further, that they’ll do it for no charge and with no requirement of professional commitment. Honkamp Krueger, the only firm in the country with such a program, offers 40-plus professional services through three business units: Honkamp Krueger (the CPA firm), HKP (the workforce management division) and HK Financial Services (the wealth management division). Taken together, it serves as a one-stop shop for the “underserved” franchise market, doing everything from payroll processing, succession planning and tax-credit consulting, to performing monthly accounting and bookkeeping, and providing business valuations.
It unveiled its HK Complimentary TaxGap Review idea in response to appraisals of new clients’ former-year tax returns that revealed that many franchise owners are overpaying federal and state government taxes. That reality, says Hauber, is because rather than seeking out strategic and sophisticated tax advice, these folks are turning over financials to someone local who’s not in possession of breadth or depth of experience for business owners.
“So many owners don’t realize that there are many different ways to minimize their tax liability while staying within the lines of the law,” says Kevin R. Schmitt, CPA, CFP, HK Partner. He elaborates, “They don’t know what they don’t know.” Too often, he says, new franchisees enter the business well armed with guidance on a range of franchise issues, but are left to their own devices on matters of tax. And then when they seek what they believe to be perfectly sufficient counsel on the subject, their resources prove sorely under equipped. “The stuff we’re finding for them is, for the most part, pretty basic,” Schmitt states.
Experts from his firm will calculate the savings these franchise owners might have realized to the dollar, and return their recommendations swiftly. The company has performed this service for several hundred franchise owners already, and has found unrealized tax savings in more than 85 percent of their situations. Taken together and annualized, those missing opportunities clock in at more than $7,500 apiece a year.
“We’re like any other accounting or law firm,” Hauber concedes of his 68-yearold organization’s unusual pitch. “It goes against the grain for us not to charge by the hour, but we’ve identified that this is a pretty prevalent issue across the board.” What’s more, in over half of these cases, owners are pleased enough with the accountants’ findings that they move their business over to HK. As such, he says, the company’s growth has been as organic as it’s been impressive. “We haven’t really had to sell ourselves. Doing a free review is enough.”
It certainly appears to be. For three of the last five years, Honkamp Krueger has been the fastest-growing Top 100 CPA firm in the Midwest according to Accounting Today. And for the other two years, it was named the second-fastest growing. These are rankings that rise nobly out of about 53,000 CPA firms across the country.
The Complimentary TaxGap Review initiative is “a big part of this,” says Natalie B. Hoffmann, CPA. CITP, HK Partner and president of HKP. “No more than if they were diagnosed with a herniated disk or a stress fracture and were told to get a second opinion on their physical health, this is a second opinion on these franchisees’ financial health. When we make them aware of it, most owners say, ‘This is a no-brainer. These guys work with thousands of franchise owners, and they’re the fastest growing in their market three out of the last five years. Why would I not do this?’” It’s why HK has seen strong demand from such top-flight franchise organizations as KFC, Express Employment Professionals, 7-Eleven, Right at Home, Two Men and a Truck, Molly Maid and Dunkin’ Donuts.
“We’ve really carved out a niche here,” says Hauber, whose firm employs 405 professionals and posts annual revenues of about $52.9 million. “We’ve been able to grow our business model by doing something for nothing and adding value to these franchisees in the process.”