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Roni Deutch Tax Center

A franchise made good by making sure everyone knows its name.

Roni Deutch attributes her success as a business woman to her mother, who raised seven children on her own while working three jobs. "She is my mentor, my idol, my friend and truly my greatest inspiration," Deutch says.

Nationally known as "The Tax Lady," Deutch started her law firm 18 years ago before branching out in 2005 into the tax preparation business, which soon became her franchise. In its first year, 15 Roni Deutch Tax Center locations were sold. Today, just two years after the first center was sold, there are 63 franchises in 22 states.

Deutch realized she wanted to start her own firm to help clients "fight the big bad wolf--the IRS" while still in law school. In 1991 at the age of 26, with $120,000 in law school debt, Deutch rented a two-bedroom condo in Sacramento to start her firm. Entirely on her own and with no employees, she maxed out her credit cards to invest in the fledgling office and to buy local TV advertising time to make a name for her business. She felt lucky if 10 clients hired her in any given month.

As Deutch's law firm grew, her associates heard a common theme from their clients. "They said, 'My tax returns have not been prepared' or, 'My tax returns were prepared in a negligent manner.' We realized 'Why are we not providing tax return services?' Five years ago, we started researching it and started selling franchises in 2007."

"I attribute my growth at the tax center to brand-name recognition. Thirty-three percent of Americans know the name 'Roni Deutch.'"

Other ways the tax center differentiates itself, Deutch says: affordability (each franchise costs between $50,000 and $90,000 to start up) and flexibility (franchisees are allowed to market and provide their own services apart from the tax center's staple--tax return preparation--such as real estate, mortgages and insurance out of the Roni Deutch tax centers).

To differentiate itself from competitors, the tax center offers additional year-round business services: credit card restoration, bookkeeping, payroll, identify theft protection and pre-paid legal services.

Her main advice to other franchisors? Leverage the media to create brand recognition and an image. "As a tax attorney, I'm constantly on TV as a renowned tax expert. I fly all over the U.S., I appear on major TV shows and major radio shows. By keeping in the media, your name will always be exposed."

Deutch adds, "I absolutely do not believe that we would have had the kind of success we've had without [brand recognition]. When you have a brand name out the door, you are kicking ass running. If you don't have a brand name, it's really hard; you've got to develop that name. Our brand was already developed from day one. I believe that brand helped propel me to the next level."

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