MrTaxes.ca franchisee Marion La Rocque reveals her first-year experience operating a virtual tax preparation and financial services company
By Jessica Burgess
Tax season comes every year, and it’s important that Canadians are prepared and supported through their accounting and bookkeeping needs. “Our franchise concept is simple,” shares Marion La Rocque, a British-Columbia based franchisee with MrTaxes.ca. “Our mission is to minimize tax and maximize wealth. We accomplish this with technology and a network of tax and financial professionals.”
MrTaxes.ca is a virtual tax preparation and financial services franchise system that has been operating in Canada since 1996, with an earlier iteration of the company established in 1984. The brand provides not only tax-related services, but also personal and corporate bookkeeping and payroll services, as well as services related to insurance, investments, and mortgages. MrInvestments.ca, MrInsurance.ca, MrBookkeeping.ca, and MrPayroll.ca are all brands accessible under the MrTaxes.ca umbrella. While the company itself is headquartered in New Westminster, British Columbia, the company offers services across Canada.
Preparation is key
La Rocque has a background in business and taxes and was a business owner prior to becoming a MrTaxes.ca franchisee. “I had been working in the specialty area of disability tax credit applications,” explains La Rocque, adding that it was during this time that she decided to take a professional development tax course. “That’s where I met Robert Stone, the founder of MrTraxes.ca. I then started working with the team and my experience grew. MrTaxes.ca was a perfect fit and opportunity for me.”
Becoming a member of the MrTaxes.ca team offers franchisees the opportunity to own a business with a built-in support system. Once franchisees are part of the system, they can continue to work in their areas of expertise while simultaneously gaining access to resources and networks that help franchisees increase both their client base and their revenue.
La Rocque says her professional experience was certainly useful in her new role as a MrTaxes.ca franchisee. “Business experience is an asset, as we serve many clients who are business owners as well, both sole proprietors and incorporated business owners. Having business experience also helps in the process of taking on your own business as a franchisee,” she explains.
However, as La Rocque notes, MrTaxes.ca also offers courses and resources to new franchisees who are less familiar with operating a business. “So much is shared and learned while in the MrTaxes.ca environment. A willingness to learn is most important. We have our own program, the Certified Tax Preparer’s Course, which is accredited with Human Resources and Skills Development Canada,” continues La Rocque. “That course can be completed in approximately 16 hours, but training doesn’t stop there.” The learning opportunities for new and experienced franchisees are ongoing, as is the franchisor’s support for franchisees.
Navigating the first year
“After completing the required tax course, I received one-on-one training from the franchisor,” says La Rocque of her first year with the company, adding that she was able to do on-site in-person training with experienced tax preparers. “I got to sit in on client meetings, listen, take notes, and learn. We worked together on files and my early work was always double-checked and reviewed,” says La Rocque. “Clients were coming in so fast; it was like drinking from a fire hose! I had to learn quickly, but the steps were incremental.”
With each new client, there was something new to learn, but the franchisor didn’t give new franchisees clients that were beyond their growing capabilities. “I received support from head office and fellow franchisees.” La Rocque adds that once she had been through the training provided by MrTaxes.ca, she felt confident going forward with clients and soon found that she was able to take on more complex business returns and corporate tax clients.
One of the biggest benefits of being a first-year franchisee with an established franchise system like MrTaxes.ca is the built-in publicity and marketing that comes from head office. “I don’t have to worry about marketing, as that’s all taken care of, and clients are given to me. All the marketing leads are shared with the franchisees,” says La Rocque. “I don’t have to look for clients, though many of my clients are now through referrals from existing clients.”
Best of both worlds
In addition to the company’s sales and marketing infrastructure, being a franchisee of the system also allows franchisees to be both self-employed and part of a group of passionate, like-minded colleagues with head office support. “I have the flexibility to choose my own hours and work around the needs of my family,” La Rocque says, but shares that she is also very much part of a team. “We work on case scenarios as a team in ongoing weekly meetings.”
“It’s a very effective and dynamic way to learn. We stay current, as we constantly track Canada Revenue Agency changes and research questions related to the clients that we take care of,” adds La Rocque.
She explains that her team has twice-weekly virtual meetings, and she’s also grateful to live and work near the company’s head office, as it allows her to go into head office to work on files. “When I started working with the MrTaxes.ca team, my knowledge and experience grew, and I really like the independence of working for myself yet being a part of a bigger team that challenges me to continue to learn, grow, and expand,” says La Rocque.
Looking beyond the numbers
The world has been and continues to be changed by the COVID-19 pandemic, and businesses and individuals alike have had to adapt to and thrive within new conditions. La Rocque shares that even prior to the pandemic, the company was already using virtual means to communicate with clients from around the country. The team also continued to use these virtual tools to hold team meetings through video conferencing.
“Soon, this video conferencing became a tool to meet with clients.” La Rocque says this allowed clients from all over the country to continue to access MrTaxes.ca services or to try them for the first time. “We gained new clients whose previous tax preparers were unable to adapt to doing business during the various lockdowns,” she says, adding that she was also able to connect on a more personal level with existing clients. “I’ve been really happy this year that through the use of video conferencing, I’ve been able to actually ‘meet’ clients, and connect about their businesses, families, and lives.”
During these client meetings, she’s able to ask questions in real time and figure out what’s missing from a client’s return or what could maximize a client’s refund, for example. “Tax is a personal subject, and technology has actually enabled us to work more closely with our clients than before.”
La Rocque encourages those interested in pursuing franchising not to hesitate. She shares that the franchisor and other MrTaxes.ca franchisees together have been a source of support and connection during unprecedented times. As for advice for potential franchisees, La Rocque says, “I would get started right away. MrTaxes.ca is a growing company and an exciting place to be.”