Padgett Business Services

CEO Interview with Steve Rafsky Padgett Business Services

Padgett Business Services
Small Business Support, Big Business Sophistication

Known throughout the United States and Canada as the small business experts, Padgett Business Services has been helping its 400 franchise owners succeed for over 30 years. They can attribute their longevity and success to a simple and time tested principle - make the franchise owners happy and they will succeed. When you're ready to branch out, they will offer a successful formula for running your own with less risk and the support system of a solid, experienced company.

Steve Rafsky, CEO, explains that Padgett got its start by helping small business owners manage the financial aspects of their companies. And those business owners were grateful to have the ability to focus on the growth of their companies, rather than dealing with the sometimes overwhelming and complicated day-to-day financial duties.

"We started by providing reports," says Rafsky, "such as P & L and balance sheets. But with time, we found our role to be much more than that. We are now considered by our clients as business advisors. We answer their questions and help them keep their businesses on track. In fact, we did an extensive survey of our clients and found that 92% of them say we are their first or only business advisor. Our evolution is that we changed from a paper business to a people business."

Keeping a database of general client information is how Padgett assesses how their clients are doing. "Because we have so many clients, we can see how clients are doing compared to others like them. Then we can find areas where they may need to improve. We have a tremendous amount of experience and knowledge available. In fact, we are an important resource of information to the IRS and other government entities on small business," says Rafsky. "They turn to us for input with regard to small business issues because we have such an extensive knowledge base and are known for our experience."

"Padgett is not a sexy business," Rafsky says, "like ice cream or sporting goods. Yet for the 19th consecutive year, we have been named as a top franchise in Entrpreneur's Franchise 500. We're very proud of that recognition. Also, during the first year of this award, Franchise Business Review named the top 50 franchised businesses based on franchise satisfaction and we made this prestigious list. Keeping 400 franchises happy, particularly since some have been with the company since it began, is a challenge but it is our primary focus. We're happy to say we are succeeding."

Not only are the franchise owners happy, but the clients are as well. Twenty five thousand small businesses turn to Padgett for a variety of services such as accounting, financial reporting, government compliance, tax preparation, payroll and general business consulting. The need for Padgett's services is enormous; more than 90% of all businesses in the U.S. and Canada employ fewer than 20 employees.

"We are the first place the small business owner turns to to learn about running their business," says Rafsky. "We provide a whole array of financial services but what we really do for our clients is to be there to answer their questions and to keep them focused on running their businesses."

Rafsky knows first hand how Padgett creates an environment of success, he started out as a Padgett franchisee over 14 years ago. He explains that Padgett will work anywhere- rural or city- and you don't have to have prior experience in the industry. "We provide complete training in the services you will be offering," says Rafsky. But he does list some consistent attributes of successful franchisees, including:

  • The desire to own and run a business
  • An entrepreneur spirit
  • The desire to grow a business
  • The understanding that accounting is a back office process while marketing is a front office process
  • Business experience and business aptitude
  • Familiarity with financials
  • The desire to build relationships and create and sustain B2B sales

"Padgett works so well," says Rafksy, "because the model is right. It's a proven model developed over a 30-plus year process. We have organization committed to our franchisees and their clients. Our process is to make the product more efficient and our commitment is to the success of that product."

The support that the franchisees receive is definitely one of the major sources for their contentment and success. Franchisees are offered training at Padgett's home office in Athens, GA. The support does not stop here; the Padgett staff is always available for questions and franchisees are encouraged to participate in the various continuing education options. "As far as our existing franchise owners, we have some kind of training going on somewhere in the country every single month," says Rafsky. "Our most successful franchise owners are the ones who participate in training every year. We have training that is appropriate for whatever level of development the franchisee is at and we find that those who stay engaged really excel in this business."

"This is an affordable business to enter," says Rafsky. While having an office location is recommended, it doesn't have to be in an expensive high traffic area. "In fact, this is an ideal business for a husband and wife team, particularly where one spouse handles the marketing and sales and the other takes care of the operations side of the business. You can add an employee or two as you grow but you won't be managing a crew of people."

Rafsky started his Padgett franchise with his wife and his first hand franchise experience has been extremely helpful in his role as CEO. "It's helpful to have learned so much about the business from the franchisee's perspective," says Rafsky. "But I'm not the only one in the corporate office with this experience - our president, Roger Harris, also started with Padgett as a franchisee."

"That's the difference between Padgett and our competition," explains Rafksy. "Our management learned this, did it, exceeded in it and then got into management."

If you are ready to be your own boss and would like the opportunity to grow your own business, but at the same time have a solid and helpful support system, then it's time for you to branch out. Padgett Business Services would love to give you more information and assist you in your new endeavor. "For the last 30 plus years we have done a very good job helping people start a second career with us," says Rafsky. "We'd love to help you too."

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