Greg Carafello is an area developer for Liberty Tax Service. Greg grew a territory that spanned from the eastern side of upstate New York up almost to Canada from 18 stores to 41. He sold that territory last year and took the proceeds to purchase development rights for Central Park South in Manhattan.
Franchise Chatter (FC): Tell us about your professional background. What drove you to franchise entrepreneurship?
Greg Carafello (GC): I worked in the corporate world through the ‘80s for Canon in New York City. At 30, I wanted to be in control of my own future, so I decided to open my own business. My wife and I founded Abra Cadabra Digital Color Centers – a digital printing company, which was located on the 18th floor of the south tower at the World Trade Center. We did extremely well, but we got caught in the attacks of 9/11, and we took a huge financial hit that continued until we sold the business in August of 2004.
Before we sold Abra Cadabra, we were involved with Cartridge World and found that we really loved the support system franchising provided. During those years, I was tracking John Hewitt’s career. Abra Cadabra did all the printing and signage for Jackson Hewitt – John’s first tax preparation franchise – and I was impressed with him and his business decisions. I continued to watch as he sold Jackson Hewitt and created Liberty Tax Service.
In late 2010, after I had seen the true growth potential for Liberty Tax Service, I went to a seminar to meet John and some of the other major players in the business. We scheduled a meeting for January 2011, and I invested in a territory that stretched from the eastern part of New York State up almost to Canada. I built that territory up from 18 offices to 41 by December 2014. I sold it and purchased a Manhattan territory in January 2015.
FC: You previously owned an independent business. What are some of the highlights of now pursuing entrepreneurship through franchising?
GC: In addition to the financial promise I saw with Liberty Tax Service, the level of support that’s provided is exceptionally high. Running an independent business is rewarding but can be tiring over the years. With Liberty Tax Service, I have the satisfaction of running my own business with the support of a national franchise with wonderful franchisees. When you work for a system that’s strong and supportive, the system works for you in return.
Liberty also has a great marketing program, a definite plus when you consider that it can be difficult to focus on marketing when running a business independently.
FC: Why did you decide to become a Liberty Tax Service franchisee?
GC: John Hewitt is a winner and understands growth; he’s successfully built two strong tax preparation companies. I did look into other franchise opportunities, but there are a lot of systems that don’t support their franchisees in the way that Liberty Tax Service does.
What really sold Liberty was the fact that during the deep parts of the recession, the business was still growing, so I was confident Liberty would continue this path of success.
FC: What key criteria do you look for when evaluating potential business opportunities?
GC: First and foremost, I looked for a strong corporation – I appreciated John Hewitt’s track record of success as an entrepreneur and his strong leadership. Secondly, I looked for something that would fit my desired lifestyle.
With Liberty Tax Service you do a majority of your work in the four or five months during tax season. As a result, many of our owners keep their full-time employment or businesses during the off-season. The rest of the year we keep things running by providing ongoing training, but our owners have the option to enjoy their personal time.
FC: What advice can you share for individuals who want to own their own franchise?
GC: Make sure you do your due diligence on the company itself and don’t ignore facts that are in front of you. Talk to both successful and unsuccessful franchisees to really get to know the company and what it takes to be an effective franchisee.
Most importantly, understand what you want to do in life. You have to be fully committed to the business – 365 days a year, 24 hours a day – if you want to achieve any level of success, so ensuring you’re investing in a business that suits your lifestyle needs is essential.
FC: What is your favorite part about being a Liberty Tax Service franchisee?
GC: My favorite aspect is the level of enthusiasm held by everyone at the company; we have a lot of fun. The continuous support from everyone is refreshing and energizing.
FC: How do you plan to further grow your business?
GC: I bought a territory that has only three offices, so my main goal now is to fully develop New York City.