When It Comes to Black-Owned Business, Underpromise, and Overdeliver
I was having a conversation today with a new Black-owned tax company I considered hiring after they followed up and reached out to me but I was still deeply dissapointed in a previous tax company, Alliance Tax Solutions out of Atlanta, that I had hired who screwed up my situation by not submitting forms in time months earlier. This careless mistake affected my reputation with my clients.
Alliance Tax Solutions is supposedly a Black-Owned company, so I gave them a shot JUST because they were (supposedly) black-owned.
As a Black business owner myself, I understand how difficult it can be to garner clients and a well-deserved share of the marketplace for what we, like any other qualifying business, bring to the table.
We ARE often cheated, misled, and sold the short end of the stick as black business owners and we have to be on top of EVERYTHING, including and ESPECIALLY the services that we provide, and while it is possible for us to succeed, we have to become experts at strategies to get around the pitfalls and we have to operate above and beyond people who don’t look like us and who are business owners. This even includes, at times, people who DO look like us who come in the form of clients and customers. Unfortunately, we can also be our own worst enemies in business.
In trusting Alliance Tax Solutions, someone in their Texas office gave me a complete “speech” about how successful they are in the market and how clients are happy with their services. That was a great sales pitch but could they deliver? NO, I later painfully discovered.
As a part of MY due diligence, one quick check of review sites like this one, or I should have clicked Google Businesses Reviews and that information would have told me otherwise and/or allowed me to make a more informed decision on whether or not to hire them. I agree with the complaints 100% and have experienced the same thing with Alliance Tax Solutions.
Companies often hire people to leave positive reviews to balance out the negative ones. Am I saying Alliance Tax Solutions did this? I don’t know, but I would not be surprised by my experience with them.
Do The DUE (Diligence)
At any rate, the woman (from the new company) was calling to try to secure my business, and I had to be brutally honest with her. So I told her I trusted Alliance Tax Solutions and got screwed by them, and it has left such a bad taste in my mouth that I am now leary of doing business with ANY Black-owned company now. Wait did I just say that? I did.
This is an anomaly considering I AM a black-owned company myself. Still, in the many years, I have been doing business, I have taken pride in delivering great service, admitting when I made a mistake, and finding a solution to satisfy the client, which is probably why I have been in business for this many years.
I told her Alliance’s screw-up was a disaster and unacceptable by a company that was supposed to be HELPING me with a tax problem. This lack of concern for my account hurt my reputation and made me another black person who doesn’t trust Black-owned businesses. And I don’t want to or like to feel that way.
Anybody can sell and collect, but if you can’t DELIVER, your business is a pile of Shyt.
After the massive screw-up, I asked Alliance for a refund, and they refused, just like many of the complaints said in the links. I could not even get a copy of my file from them, something I should have been entitled to as a paying customer. They said they did their job, and there was no refund.
I now have to file complaints with boards and others to expose the situation. Which I didn’t want to do, but business is business, and GOOD business is the BEST business.
The woman who called me today told me she could assure me that this company she worked for was legit and that she would not work for anyone who was not legit.
I told her, with all due respect; I don’t know you!!! And Alliance made the same promises (and I didn’t know them, but I do now).
When you are cold-calling and making sales, you are asking someone to trust you that does not KNOW you, and all you have to fall back on is your reputation and your reviews.
As stated, me trying to be supportive. I gave them a chance and ended up regretting it. Unfortunately, this now has a trickle-down effect which means I will have a hard time trusting any black-owned business for a while (that I know nothing about)
When We Oversell and Underdeliver
The best way to do business with someone is a referral, but the problem is this WAS a referral from a good friend in radio.
The problem is, she didn’t tell me she had just hired them too, and they were not done delivering her services. They did a lot of advertising on her station and she thought that translated to a ‘qualified’ business.
When I complained to her about how I was being treated, she called them, and because she is high profile in the Atlanta market where they are based, they made sure they treated HER right. As stated, they do ads on several regional radio stations, which many people complain about, as a level of trust, as the reason to hire them for their services mentioned in the complaints. They trusted the RADIO station and then Alliance Tax Solutions. But I’ve worked in the radio industry for many years and can tell you like any other business, radio is trying to get its money FIRST.
I have learned that the BEST way to do business with a black business owner who is unknown to you is to research them online TOO. NO MATTER HOW GOOD THE PITCH IS. There are some review sites that will take money from a business with bad reviews and delete the reviews but others like Google don’t play that. The negative reviews remain even if you hire people to post fake positive reviews to balance it out. A wise consumer should see a wide spectrum of good and negative reviews with no gray errors is telling.
When it comes to your needs in business I have learned the FIRST rule is don’t do business with someone JUST because they are black. Do business with them because they are GOOD at what they do FIRST … THEN support them because they are a black-owned business!
Unfortunately, this is unfair because we do business with people who are white who we don’t know all the time, without checking any references, etc. AND when they mess things up, we will give them a second, third, fourth, and fifth chance with no questions.
We Expect More from Us
Not only do we (often) expect discounts when it comes to black business, we don’t trust black businesses (outside of hair and food, the ONLY two things nobody else can steal from the culture) for whatever reason, so as black business owners, we are behind the 8-ball from the gate.
It’s Easy to Understand Why we Overpromise and Underdeliver.
We need the business. Plain and simple, even at the cost of our reputation. In my field, I work in the music industry. I consistently see white-owned industry businesses give ad dollars pertaining to black acts or services to white-owned industry websites even when it would better serve them to give those campaigns and ad dollars to me.
Those same competitors hound my advertisers in an effort to steal clients too but it all boils down to strategy and service. When you KNOW what you are up against and provide the best service and have great relationships with your clients, it makes it more difficult for competitors to intervene in the process. Had Alliance Tax Solutions done me right I could have brought them a lot more business.
We are not going to win every battle, people do business with people because they like them, even if it wastes their money. BUT on the other end of that spectrum, I have also seen BLACK-owned companies give THEIR money to white-owned industry businesses just because they are more comfortable that way.
We Have to Get in where we Fit in
Complaining is useless. It makes you look like “the bad guy” and makes YOU look bitter when all you trying to do is survive; I get it.
So some of us oversell our services, but when we can’t or don’t deliver, we ALSO mess it up for the next Black-owned business that may be legit and ABLE to satisfy customer needs. In many cases, as Black business owners, we only get one chance and when we screw up, other black-owned businesses have to pay the price too.
Your Reputation Means Everything
I have to be honest in saying, because of my experience with Alliance Tax Solutions, it will be months before I feel comfortable doing business with another black-owned company (that I don’t know anything about), and that could have been avoided had they taken responsibility and offered me a refund but it was not to be. Will I hire a white-owned tax company now? I resolved the situation on my own, something that could have saved me a lump sum of money had I not hired Alliance Tax Solutions. It is most unfortunate when we hire someone to help us SAVE money ends up making us WASTE money. Beware.