Wouldn't it be great if every company had a landlord who gave them brilliant marketing advice, and then forced them put that marketing advice into action?
This may seem far-fetched, but it is exactly what happened to Henry and Richard Bloch one day in 1955. As a result of their landlord's instructions, H&R Block dominated the tax preparation niche, and to this day is the most successful and popular tax preparation service in the country.
But let's start at the beginning....
In the 1940s, Henry Bloch was a member of the U.S. Army Air Corps assigned to bomb and destroy Nazis. After the military and Harvard Business School, he started a company that would assist businesses with accounting, marketing, operations, etc. His feeling was if he offered businesses everything, they would end up buying something. They didn't, and Henry and his brother struggled.
In fact, in his biography Many Happy Returns, Henry admitted many of his early clients probably did business with him because they "felt sorry" for him.
One day, Henry's landlord walked into their office, and asked if they would hang a sign in the front lobby that advertised their tax preparation services ONLY. This was a huge departure from Henry's typical advertising which showed almost every service they provided (they couldn't feature all of them because they offered over a HUNDRED)!
The landlord wanted them to do this simply to increase foot traffic to the building. What the landlord, and not the Blochs, realized is there was a high demand for tax preparation.
After that sign went up, the Bloch's office immediately attracted scores of people looking to get their tax forms completed.
And this is what inspired the Bloch's to only provide promote and provide tax preparation.
Also, in case you haven't noticed by now, Henry ingeniously named the company H&R "Block" because he realized people would probably mispronounce his last name.
Henry Bloch is still alive during the publishing of this post. He has made a brilliant career out of developing consistent services over his 12,000 locations, while fighting the competition, the government and even his own team to keep services low-priced, and effective.
While many people don't really talk about him, I would easily compare him to the greats: Sam Walton, Ray Kroc and Jeff Bezos. A living legend in every sense of the phrase... but probably not without his landlord!
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