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Shop Talk

November 20, 2010

Shop Talk: HomeServices Company

HomeServices Company 739 County Highway 44 , Oneonta Owner: Robert Snyder Established: 1993 Employees: None

Shop Talk is a weekly column featuring locally owned and operated businesses. This week, we talk to Robert Snyder of HomeServices Company, an Oneonta-based tax preparation and payroll service.

How long have you lived in the area?

I moved to this area in 1990.

Tell me about your business:

I do tax preparation for individuals and businesses, as well as weekly payroll for many small local businesses, along with their quarterly and end-of-year taxes. My clients do not have to come to my office unless they feel more comfortable doing business that way; most communicate through mail and e-mails. This is really convenient for working people who would have a difficult time scheduling an appointment or those without transportation, or who are disabled or have other limitations that make tax time all the more stressful. Doing business by mail and e-mail is easy and works into everyone's schedule. I make house calls as well; I have many senior citizens that prefer or need a home visit.

Describe a typical day in your business:

My days begin with checking e-mails. Since most of my clients do business with me through e-mail, that is where the day begins. I work on payroll for local businesses through the rest of the day with U.S. Postal Service client mail adding to the day, investment questions, preparing client folders and making house calls. Whenever there is time, I am reviewing information sheets and keeping up with the tax laws.

How did you get started in this line of work?

Lots of families have a math whiz, and in my family, it is me. I started working on taxes for my brother's business and word spread quickly through family and friends until it blossomed into this business, which has been growing for 17 years.

Where do you see this business in five years?

Growth. Every year I gain new clients and I plan to keep growing. As the tax laws keep changing, it gets more and more difficult for people to keep track of their unique tax situation, so I am here to help them.

What is the most challenging part of what you do?

Tax laws are challenging because there are pages and pages and pages of them in many different categories. It is a constant learning process. Taxation is not something you learn once; it is continual learning.

The most enjoyable?

My growing number of happy customers is the best part of what I do, especially when I hear the horror stories of people's experiences elsewhere. It's great to help people.

Describe a memorable moment in your workplace:

One particularly memorable moment was when a tax client of mine called to say that they had received a letter from the IRS stating that everything had been straightened out. I take pride in knowing that the quick reply they received was due in part to my helping them with the problem.

What have you learned from your work?

Every person is different; every tax return is different. The "big box" approach doesn't work because every single client and their tax status is different and unique, they need to be treated that way.

How do you define success for your business?

Success for my business is continuing growth of new customers while retaining those I already have done business with. I have clients who were my business's first clients in 1993. When I am able to help a widower sort through papers and advise them on estate taxes or assist newlyweds, retirees and divorcees with a new arena of tax information, that is success.

What are some advantages as well as drawbacks of doing business in this area?

The advantages of doing business here is that this area is really a small community; there are always people who will help a person get started; it is a neighborly place. I cannot think of any drawbacks; my family and I love this area.

What sets you apart from your competitors?

There are a lot of differences with what my business offers over competitors, especially with a focus on each client being unique. My system of doing e-mail, mail and house calls is a big factor in what sets me apart from any competitors.

I have many clients ask for a house call because they have a shoe box, or larger, filled with tax paperwork that they have no idea of how to make sense of it, and they are uncomfortable because they are unsure of what questions to ask.

What advice would you give to someone trying to enter your field of work?

Study hard and acknowledge every person's uniqueness. This is far from boring since every day, every client and every year is different.

For more information about Shop Talk, or to suggest a business, call 432-1000, ext. 217, or e-mail

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