by Thomas M. Bloch
Henry Bloch began H&R Block with his brother Richard in 1955.
This was after serving in WW2 where he was part of a flight crew that shot down Nazi war planes. Actually, H&R Block was not their first business name, but it makes no difference now.
Also, it's Bloch's last name is pronounced "block", so now you see why he chose H&R Block instead of H&R Bloch, which people would be guaranteed to say wrong.
College didn't make Bloch happy, so he started a sort of a business variety service store where business owners could get anything from advertising consulting to accounting advice.
It was a bit of a mess, and so was their advertising. After all, when you try to be everything to everyone you end up becoming nothing to no one.
Even Henry admitted in the early part of his book that their customers basically felt sorry for the young company.
Bloch and his brother were working long hours, and not making much money which was unfortunate because Henry had a new wife and new child at home.
Then one day everything changed.
H&R Block's landlord wished to drive more traffic into the office building. So, he asked Henry to create a sign that promoted the fact that H&R Block provided tax returns.
Naturally Henry obliged, and a sign went up in the front lobby which advertised H&R Block's tax returns services for $5.
This changed everything...
While H&R Block had been advertising and beating the pavement for new customers for quite some time, the ad simply featuring their tax return services was a real hit, and customers began pouring in.
Henry eventually took H&R Block public, although he had to draw plenty of battle lines along the way, from charlatan competitors, and even the U.S. government who he feared would destroy his company with new regulations.
Eventually, Henry Block came to be known as "America's tax man," and H&R Block is currently the largest tax service brand in the country.
While this book has gems for all business people, the key takeaway of this story is the more narrow your scope of services, the greater brand power and leadership your company commands.
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