Georgia-Based Pastor Leads Diverse Small Businesses

Mark Herrington wears several hats in his professional life. He runs two very different enterprises: Accurate Tax Financial Service, an online tax-filing service, and RetreatShelters.com, which installs custom storm shelters in residences throughout Georgia and Mississippi (see photo). He also serves as a pastor at Greater Atlanta Pentecostals Church in Coweta County, Ga.

The GoPayment Blog recently spoke with Herrington about his various jobs — and how GoPayment helps get them all done.

GP: How did you get involved in two very different enterprises?

Herrington: Two years ago, after the economic downturn hit, I decided to return to the service of tax filing, which I’d done originally from 1985 to ’87. As for the storm shelters, I’ve always been in construction through KCR Construction, so storm shelter installation was a natural outgrowth of that venture.

Which of these two ventures is your favorite business, and why?

Believe it or not, the tax accounting business is my favorite, because I truly value helping people get the most out of their tax refunds and business deductions. It’s also important because my ministry is my top priority and this also involves accounting. The businesses are very different, but both help people in our area of the country and I’m proud to be able to do that.

What type of clients do you serve with Accurate Tax Financial Service?

We prepare tax returns both for individuals and for small businesses, primarily those  generating $500,000 or less a year. This can include construction firms, retail shops, and various home-based businesses. We also offer bookkeeping and record-keeping advice, helping people to organize their businesses and file the appropriate taxes. Our service is mostly online, but we offer walk-in assistance as well.

How does RetreatShelters work?

We install a solid-steel storm shelter under the concrete floor of the customer’s garage or carport, thus taking up no extra space in the residence. This shelter offers two methods to exit in emergency situations, but also allows a way to enter the shelter without having to move a vehicle when a quick entry is necessary. All of our shelter models meet or exceed the requirements to qualify for funding by local emergency-management associations. We offer outdoor shelters, too.

Have these shelters gone through any serious storms yet?

The last heavy storm to hit the Atlanta area occurred in April 2011, and we just received the rights to install shelters in September. But we’ve heard from numerous clients that they have much more peace of mind about any bad weather coming this year. They’ve tried out the shelters during less serious storms, and they’re very happy with the results.

Do you cross-sell storm shelters to your accounting customers or through the church?

Brochures about the storm shelters are offered to customers in my office, but I don’t actively push it. As for my church, I’m happy to talk about it if a church member expresses interest.

How has GoPayment helped your business?

GoPayment is essential, because it enables our representatives in the field to collect credit-card payments on-site. The first question customers ask is, “How much will the shelters cost?” When they hear they can pay by credit card and put it on a payment plan, they go for it!

And you also use GoPayment for church donations?

That’s right. When we’re out visiting shut-ins and people want to give donations, they can do it on credit card. The same thing happens when I’m in line at the supermarket or somewhere and people hear about my church. If they wish to contribute, I can take donations on the spot. I recommend GoPayment to everyone for its convenience and ease of use.

About Lee Polevoi

Lee Polevoi is an award-winning freelance copywriter and editor and a former Senior Writer for Vistage International, a global membership organization of chief executive officers. He writes frequently on issues and challenges faced by U.S. small businesses.
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