Welcome video with Wilson Rogers & Company CEO Jared Rogers, CPA. Learn about the services our company offers, how Jared got started in the business and what he likes best about his job.
Welcome video with Wilson Rogers & Company CEO Jared Rogers, CPA. Learn about the services our company offers, how Jared got started in the business and what he likes best about his job.
So this tax season was a little more challenging than anticipated; thus the reason this post is coming out in October. Needless to say, back on September 14, 2005 Wilson Rogers & Company came into existence. That means that 2015 marks 10 years of us being in business! A lot has happened in that time frame. So with this post, we thought we would not only recap our history, but just how we were able to make it that long.
So after years of Jared getting “hey, your’re an accountant, I have a tax question for you.” he and Aaronita Wilson decided to start a tax company. “What are we going to call it?” was the question for a while. “How about we call it Rogers Wilson” Aaronita would say. “Nah, how about Wilson Rogers?” Jared replied. “Kind of sounds like a person. Some estately dude on a horse playing polo. It also sounds like another tax company we know…” And with that, Wilson Rogers & Company took form.
This was the first year that we actually started doing returns for pay. Some of the key highlights:
These were the “slow years” for the most part as there really wasn’t much that changed. Client levels stayed pretty consistent and revenues were largely flat. This was primarily due to the fact that both Aaronita and Jared maintained full time jobs within Corporate America. This would start to change in the following year.
Sometime towards the end of 2011, the decision was made that Jared would leave Corporate America to head up our first “retail” office. Up until this point, all the tax returns were done “in house” by making appointments to pick up documents, preparing the returns at night and then providing the completed return to the client at a later date. 2011 was filled with decisions about health insurance, resignation dates and how to outfit the new office. Somehow, someway, it all managed to come together.
Tax Season? Ready, Set, Go!
So this was the first tax season with the new office. If you want to read the recap on how it went, you can check that out here. Some of the things that you won’t see in this post:
So we survived another retail office tax season. That recap can be found here. The one standout item for this year was that Teaspiller was purchased by Intuit and folded into the TurboTax brand. What that did was drive additional tax preparation business to us that was above and beyond what we had projected. It also continued Jared’s relationship with Intuit, which further broadened in late April when he became certified as a Quickbooks Proadvisor.
This was the year that we hired “employee number one” so that Jared could have a little help. You can read all about Stephanie in a little interview that we did here. If you want to read about the season, that is located in this post. That post will also talk about how we began using bus benches to advertise to local traffic in our area!
This was our fourth tax season with the office, and man did things really pick up. They picked up so much that we hired Patricia as “employee number two” to keep up with things. This was also the year that we launched www.fileoldtaxreturns.com to offer those needing to file older tax returns an option to do so.
How Did We Survive 10 Years?
Everyone knows the statistic that most businesses fail to make it to the 5 year mark. While we have been lucky enough to avoid the top 5 reasons businesses fail, we must admit that it takes a little more than that to last for 10 years. So what are the keys to the castle? In summary we think:
Here’s to a bright future!
When you’re in business, effectively engaging your prospects and potential customers is half the battle of generating revenue. However, when you communicate via different advertising media (e.g. TV, radio, internet, outdoor, etc), you have to make sure that the design has been properly tailored. If the ad design doesn’t match the media, you risk the possibility of losing a lot of money. Case in point; our bus bench ads.
In 2014 we began using bus bench ads to extend our marketing reach around our retail office. While the bench didn’t “break even” from the standpoint of how much we spent on it versus the revenue generated, it did bring us some customers. With that said, we went back to the drawing board when it came time to redesign it for our contract renewal. Why? Well, we felt that the original version may have been a little too “busy” and cluttered. Thus, we tried to streamline it so that it delivered our message in line with the media (i.e. quick view, limited space and only a few seconds to capture your “on-the-go” audience).
Designing for outdoor media is a challenging communication task. It requires that one transmit their concept with both clarity and focus. With that being said, here are the top ten points to keep in mind when developing effective outdoor advertising:
The Five W’s. You want to convey the what, where, why, when and who in the most expedient manner possible. Some of you may say that the w’s aren’t in the order that you remember them in from school. Well, when it comes to advertising, the prospect wants to know what’s in it for me before they even care who is offering it. Thus, tell them what you’re offering, where they can get it, why they need it, when they can buy it and who you are in that order. They can always find out who you are, but that isn’t going to initially spark them to continue reading your ad.
Keep your message short. Refine your message to its most basic elements; you may only have 30 seconds of their time if you are lucky. You’re NOT trying to sell them on the spot so don’t waste your time or money attempting to do so. Remember, you just want the person to desire to learn more about the goods and services of the company so they will follow your call to action.
Use a “call to action.” The main reason businesses fail to make the sale is because they never ask for it! If you want the person to do something, explicitly tell them what steps they should take. Things such as call now, visit this website or visit us at 123 Anywhere Street are what we’re referring to. If your space is limited, at a bare minimum the ad copy should be designed so readers have the essential information and are stimulated to respond.
Use bold, vibrant colors. Colors that complement and contrast each other work best. Using more than two or three different colors isn’t advisable. Designs have better readability with opposite colors used next to each other for higher contrast. With colors that are too similar, design elements can blend together at a distance and get lost.
Eliminate unnecessary information. You’re probably not advertising services from Chicago to prospects in Florida. Thus, eliminate items such as area codes and city names if they aren’t absolutely needed.
KISS. Keep it simple sweetheart! Limit the complexity and number of concepts communicated. The more that prospect has to digest, the harder it will be for them to remember just what it is you do.
Use photos and graphics. There is a reason that Jared’s picture is on the benches. Pictures help to create intrigue, convey mental images as well as help an ad stand out. For example, if you see the bench with Jared’s face on it, you might just look at it simply to satisfy your curiosity as to who that guy is? Ads with images are viewed far greater than those with only text, so make sure to use those pictures!
Use large, clear fonts. You want to ensure that you copy is readable; especially for the most important concepts of the ad. In our first generation benches the company name was the most prominent. In the second generation we changed this so that our services were primary. Why? See the five w’s above.
Use intrigue. Make your prospects want to learn and know more about you and what you have to offer. Thus, be intriguing in both words and imagery.
Keep the layout simple. Remember, you’re trying to say a lot in a little amount of time. Make sure that the layout is clean with a clear-cut message and focus. Remember less is always better.
Businesses are funny entities. They make the products we purchase, seduce and entice us with their ads and even influence the world we live in. But behind these often ambiguous enterprises are real life people like you and I. They have lives, families, hobbies, interests, opinions and the like. Yet, most customers never get to really meet these individuals who, in reality, are the life source of the company. With that being said, I figured it would be nice to share some interesting facts about the guy who primarily runs this blog thingy.
So in short, my name is Jared R. Rogers. I’m the guy at the helm of Wilson Rogers and have been for quite some time. It is true that I am a Financier by trade and have been involved in many facets of the profession (Public Accounting, Industry Accounting, Operational Analysis, etc.) for over 13 years now. Yet, I am far more than just a “numbers guy” and if you had a chat with me at length, you’d probably wonder just what I am doing in the accounting field. So how about a quick round of 10 questions?
1. Just how did you wind up in Finance?
Back in High School I had an interest in going into law enforcement. But the idea of facing the thugs and hooligans of Chicago’s mean city streets didn’t really appeal to me. Thus, I thought that working for the Illinois State Police or FBI was actually a better option. Problem with the FBI is that in order to be an agent, you had to have a college degree in one of five fields (Accounting being one) AND you had to have two years of work experience. Thus, when it was time for me to graduate, I decided to go and work for the Accounting firm KPMG, LLP. Needless to say, I never went back and applied for that FBI gig!
2. You’ve been in the profession for over 13 years?
September 13th 1999; that was my first day in Corporate America. Ironically, the picture below is me headed off to my first day as taken by my mom – yeah, my parents were gracious enough to let me live at home my 1st year after college (that was before I bought an apartment building at 23 and became a slumlord).
I worked in the audit practice of KPMG for about 3 years and during that time passed the CPA exam. Eventually, I decided that 50-60 hour work weeks weren’t worth my health and decided to get a “normal” job. From there I went to the tool manufacturer Robert Bosch (they make Bosch/Skil/Dremel) and got a gig in the accounting department. Over the course of two years I decided that accounting was kind of boring and that the “sexy side” of the business (Finance) was where I wanted to be.
So with that, I began pursuing my MBA and in the process switched jobs to PepsiCo. I worked at PepsiCo for about 4 years and in the process got to work as a Financial Analyst for Gatorade. It was here that I got to work on some pretty cool things, saw the importance/value of all functions within a company (e.g. Sales, Marketing, R&D, etc) and really figured out that my mind is actually more oriented towards business as a whole versus just accounting. After PepsiCo I moved to Hyatt where I assumed management roles within the BU Finance function and Corporate Planning & Analysis (FP&A) team.
3. So just how did you start doing taxes?
Well, being an accounting major, I was not going to pay someone to do my taxes. Thus my start in taxes began with me doing my own. Owning an apartment building led me to learn the intricacies of some of the more complex individual tax matters. I’ve always been a proponent of giving back, and during the time when I was working for KPMG, I began to participate in the IRS’ VITA program. After a few seasons of working with VITA (and the typical “hey, you’re a CPA, I have a tax question for you”) I decided that doing taxes on the side might be a cool way to pass the time during the winter. So from there, things just started to grow and I’ve been involved in the tax world ever since.
4. If you find accounting boring, finance sexy and you have a business oriented mind, why do you do taxes again?
As I mentioned above, I’m not your typical accountant. When I say that accounting is boring, I mean that the process of recording entries and preparing financial reports is not exciting. Most of the information is historical in nature (meaning it’s already happened) and it is very routine in nature. Finance and business tend to be more dynamic and really benefit from forward looking analysis. I mean, if you are stuck in the desert, trying to figure your way out of the place is far more exciting than looking at the footsteps you’ve created in the sand right? Thus, taxes are intriguing to me because there is a fair amount of ambiguity and getting it right can sometimes be a challenge.
5. You left KPMG because of your health?
The short answer is yes. At the time I hadn’t learned to manage stress appropriately and my body manifested this as mild high blood pressure. I take my health pretty seriously so I decided that my personal wellbeing was worth more than the paycheck I was making. With that, I decided to move on, which gave me more time to participate in activities and just love life in general.
6. What are these said activities?
They have varied over the years, but typically involve me being active or using my mind. I played football in High School so I’ve lifted weights for many years. During this time I also rode as a bike messenger which really kept me fit. I’m also a big fan of electronic music (hey Chicago is the House Capitol of the US in my opinion) and used to DJ when in college. While I no longer DJ, I love to hear a good mix during my training and workouts.
In my initial years of corporate work, I had less time to be active so I wrote a book just for kicks. I also became interested in motorcycles as it was a natural extension of my love of bikes. Best trip? Chicago to LA and back during a summer road trip on my Honda Shadow!
But all of that not being active caught up with me and at one point my weight topped out at 218 lbs (I played football at like 165 lbs). So in 2007 I started racing bikes for these guys. I can honestly say that the past 5 seasons have been a blast especially this most recent one. This is from one of my more memorable races this summer:
In addition to the above, I also enjoy swimming and yoga as I find they balance my body out given all the time I spend on the bike.
7. So your weight has obviously gone down right?
Yes, but it wasn’t without a lot of hard work. See, when your body is used to being active, it takes a lot to get it to shed pounds because it’s adapted to the workload. Well, that and when you like to eat like a horse and love sweets like I do! Combine that with the fact that bike racing is REALLY hard, it became obvious to me that I would not do too well weighing what I did. So over time, I began to modify my already 90% healthy diet and started working out even more. With that, the pounds started to come off. With a little more focus on my offseason training and shifting to a Vegetarian diet, my weight is down to within 10lbs of where I want it to be.
8. Wait, you don’t eat meat?
When a car pulls up to me on my bike in the dead of winter, inevitably the driver looks at me as if I was the escaped Bronx Zoo Cobra! The same reaction is usually what I get when people hear that I am a Vegetarian. I haven’t “knowingly” eaten meat since mid-2010 (I’m sure someone may have slipped me a Mickey or two) and while I can’t say that I will never eat it again, I can say that I have no intentions to do so in my foreseeable future. Over the years, I had refined my eating to mostly turkey, chicken, fish. However, it was after reading an article about the treatment of animals going to the slaughterhouse as well as the health benefits of eating a meat-free diet (and the impact on athletic performance) that finally pushed me down this path.
When I was younger I wanted to be a veterinarian before I wanted to work for the FBI. I also wanted to race in NASCAR which may explain why I love racing bikes? Anyway, I have always had a love for animals and raising them for food just kind of feels wrong and wasteful. By wasteful I mean, we feed a cow tons of grain (to make it weigh a few tons), use gallons of diesel fuel to truck it to a slaughterhouse, use tons of water and electricity to process and package it so we can have a burger. Why not save all the middle men and just give me the chickpeas in the form of some tasty olive hummus?
9. So sustainability isn’t new to you?
Nope. Back when I was little I remember that I had to earn my extra money. My sister and I would go to the local train tracks and pick up all the aluminum cans that people tossed from their cars. My father would then take us to the recycling center and we’d cash the cans in. Thus, I think I’ve always been conscious of wasting things in this world and doing what we can to minimize our impact on what we take. The same goes for business. One of my roles at PepsiCo was within the Process & Control Development group. This team’s job was to figure out how things worked and figure out how to do them better and more responsibly. So, I’m a big proponent of helping businesses do things better, faster, cleaner and more efficiently than their competitors.
10. I thought accountants lived in black and white. Where do you think your open mind comes from?
I went to Catholic school from grammar to high school. I attended a liberal arts college. My parents always encouraged my sister and I to do whatever we wanted to in this world, so long as it was legal and didn’t hurt anyone else. Based on this foundation, I had a lot of exposure to many things in life. And because I had all of this exposure, I think I came to my own conclusion that there are many options when it comes to things in this world. You don’t have to be a Catholic, you can follow the teachings of many of the other religions of this world or you can follow none of them at all. But at the end of the day, we all tend to believe in treating people well and trying to do what is right. So with that said, I tend to place less importance on individual beliefs so long as we believe in the same general things.
However, when it comes to the land of taxes, there is no such thing as having an open mind. You either do it right or you cause yourself a lot of grief. Personally, I can do without the drama in my life!
Well, I know this was a long post, but hopefully you’ve gathered a little more about the man behind the curtain. Yes, I live and breathe in the world of finance, but I am also a regular person. I love interacting with people, helping out those in need, trying to keep this bag of bones in shape and keeping the old mind active. While I am far from perfect, I strive to do the best I can each day and hopefully make someone’s day a little brighter. Until we chat again.