Interview With John Hewitt: Still Learning and Listening

John Hewitt, Liberty Tax

While many business owners would attribute their successes to their customers, John Hewitt gives all the credit to his employees. Hewitt, recently honored as a Small Business Influencer Champion, says his company, Liberty Tax, “hires for attitude” and gets some of its best ideas from employees, as well as franchisees.

Hewitt, who founded two of the top three tax companies (the other is, as you might have guessed, Jackson Hewitt), puts his money where his mouth is when it comes to his employees:

“Our goal is to be the number-one tax service in the universe by 2020.  Our team is challenging performance at all levels.  We have just issued a million-dollar challenge with monetary rewards for those pushing their customer service and work standard to that fanatical level.”

Anyone within Liberty Tax can nominate another employee or franchisee for a “Fanatical Award” of $1,000 for going beyond the call of duty to the fanatical level.

His Door Is Always Open

Hewitt has helped Liberty Tax grow to 3,800 Liberty Tax offices in the United States and Canada from just five offices three years ago. He’s done this by paying attention to ideas from both franchisees and employees:

“Most companies make the mistake of thinking they know everything and managing from the top down. Some of the things I invented as an employee, like a referral fee coupon, were shot down by management, but are now practiced by all of the major tax companies.  So I’m still learning, and I’m definitely listening.”

Get Out While The Getting’s Good

If not for some advice Hewitt’s father gave him, he might still be an employee of H&R Block. The advice was on when to get in and out of a career situation. When his father suggested they get into computerizing taxes, Hewitt quit his job to develop the first tax-preparation software for the PC. The rest, as they say, is history.

As for his own advice to fellow entrepreneurs, it goes beyond the office:

“Reward yourself with some personal enrichment time, and valuable time with family.”

John was recognized as a Small Business Influencer Champion for 2011. Read more of our Small Business Influencer Champion interviews.


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Susan Payton Susan Payton is the Communications Manager for the Small Business Trends Awards programs. She is the President of Egg Marketing & Communications, an Internet marketing firm specializing in content marketing, social media management and press releases. She is also the Founder of How to Create a Press Release, a free resource for business owners who want to generate their own PR.