By Holly Celeste Fisk
When Jackson Hewitt Tax Service ran a drawing for its Franchise Territory Giveaway, the entries poured in. The Virginia Beach, Virginia-based tax-service franchisor began the promotion in June 1996, offering a free franchise territory to the winner. Anyone who submitted the names, addresses and phone numbers of five tax preparers not affiliated with Jackson Hewitt was eligible to win the territory, valued at $20,000.
The lead-generating promotion was a success for Jackson Hewitt. "We generated 2,561 leads," says Marty Mazer, Jackson Hewitt's vice president of franchise development and company store operations.
And the lucky winners? The Skidmore family of Cumberland, Maryland. "We just went on a scavenger hunt looking for names of people who did taxes," says Brenda Skidmore, 44, co-owner of three Jackson Hewitt locations in Cumberland and LaVale, Maryland.
The Skidmores' business was already a family affair: Brenda co-owns a territory with husband Tom, 44, for which daughter-in-law Bobbi, 31, is the marketing director. Now their son Tom Jr., 25, will run the new territory in West Virginia or Pennsylvania. "We didn't want to do a shoddy job," says Brenda, so the new franchise won't be up and running until next tax season.
Tom and Brenda worked for H&R Block prior to becoming Jackson Hewitt franchisees six years ago. The prize will help the Skidmores expand. Says Brenda, "We plan to buy all the territories touching ours."