MILLEDGEVILLE — EDITOR'S NOTE: This is the third in a series of stories featuring finalists for the Milledgeville Baldwin County Chamber of Commerce's 2014 Small Business of the Year award. The winner will be announced at the annual Blue Sapphire Gala Awards Dinner at 6 p.m. Saturday at the Milledgeville Country Club.
A local accounting firm packs decades of experience into a small, family-owned atmosphere.
James M. Grant, CPA, PC is one of four Milledgeville Baldwin County Chamber of Commerce 2014 Small Business of the Year award nominees.
Alan Grant and brother David followed their father's path when he opened the business in 1955.
Grant remembers making copies at the original business location on Wayne Street.
“It's always something I've been around,” he said. “I was just intrigued by it as a youngster and kind of moved into it.”
The small business of the year award nominee provides an array of client services, including individual and business tax preparation, bookkeeping, payroll and sales tax preparation, business development, auditing, governmental accounting and QuickBooks consulting.
Marcia Hatcher worked part-time with the Grant's CPA firm in 1998 while attaining her master's degree in accounting. She joined the team after her Georgia College graduation.
“That's probably the best decision we've made since we started probably,” Grant said.
Hatcher enjoys personal relationships with each client.
“Knowing that people trust me and the guidance I can give them is really fulfilling,” she said.
Grant said most clients are friends and family.
“You get satisfaction out of helping them get something that they couldn't do themselves,” Grant added.
James M. Grant, CPA, is an affordable option. They don't slip into the expensive stigma relative to larger competitors.
Personal touches win over customers. The firm will pick up and deliver returns for example.
A 10 percent teacher discount and client referral program helped during the latest economic challenge.
“People referring their friends and family to us has probably been the best source of new business,” Grant said.
Hatcher said the group “broadened the spectrum” of who the clients really are instead of focusing on one particular entity.
“We've had to reorganize how we do things and whom we want to help,” she said.
James M. Grant sees small businesses try self-help financial recording.
“The sad thing about the small business man is the first thing they want to cut is bookkeeping. QuickBooks is the best and worst thing ever created,” Grant said. “We have to standout to make [the client] think 'I can't get rid of him because I don't want to do all of that work.’”
Not worrying about tax issues empowers business growth to greater profitability.
Grant said business longevity stems from a “focus on the family.”
The open door policy helps the comfort factor.
“You don't have to have an appointment to come in and talk to one of us,” Hatcher said. “That really sets us apart from larger firms outside of town. (Clients) know when they call they can talk to someone and get an answer.”
The Chamber award nomination shows the accountants are making a difference, Grant said.
CPAs don't typically get much recognition, so the firm calls the accomplishment an honor.
“For the Chamber to appreciate the behind the scenes work that we do makes us feel really good,” Hatcher said.