Perhaps Boring Fits the Bill for New H&R Block Chief
H&R Block is the largest tax prep franchise by far, with $3.28 billion in sales in 2016 and 11,950 units, according to the Franchise Times Top 200+, not in preparation for the October issue.
Jeff Jones’ move this week to helm H&R Block after a tumultuous and brief stint at Uber, as announced below on this blog, prompted a look at the tax services sector in franchising. The results are about as boring as, well, preparing your taxes versus following all of the wild news coming out of Uber, and maybe that’s what appealed to Jones.
H&R Block is the largest tax prep franchise by far, with $3.28 billion in sales in 2016 and 11,950 units, according to the Franchise Times Top 200+, which we are preparing now and will publish in the October issue.
It posted a mere 0.3 percent sales growth from the year before, with a decline in unit count, -0.1 percent.
Jackson Hewitt places second, with $494 million in sales and 6,135 units. Sales growth was the worst of the top three, -1.4 percent, and unit growth declined as well, -3.2 percent.
Liberty Tax, meanwhile, posted $439 million in systemwide sales in 2016 and reported 4,487 units, with 0.9 percent sales growth and 3.7 percent unit growth.
Jones is famous in business circles from his time at Target Corp. from 2012 to 2016 as chief marketing office. He wrote a candid blog post in May 2014 after CEO Gregg Steinhafel had been booted and an anonymous employee took to Gawker to complain about a “Targetized” workplace of conformist mediocrity.
A first, uncomfortable step to any recovery, Jones wrote, is honestly facing up to problems. “Yes, the truth hurts,” he wrote at the time. “But it will also set you free.”
Then he jumped to Uber Technologies as president in the fall of 2016, and lasted only about six months at the ride-sharing firm, during which time sexual harassment allegations rocked the firm, CEO and founder Travis Kalanick was forced out, Kalanick was heard in a widely distributed recording berating a driver, not to mention regulator troubles and a lawsuit filed by Google’s parent company alleging the stealing of trade secrets and much, much more.
Before Kalanick got the boot and at the time of Jones’ departure from Uber in March, Kalanick said in an email: “After we announced our intention to hire a COO, Jeff came to the tough decision that he doesn’t see his future at Uber.” Will a more bland future at the Block, or perhaps the top title of CEO at last, suit him better?