Author: Joseph Ulrich, BSU student
Peter Bergstrom is a Bridgewater native who graduated from Boston University with an undergraduate in accounting, and an MBA from the Boston University School of Management. Mr. Bergstrom went on to work in public accounting, working for a large accounting firm in Boston. Today, and for the last 31 years, he prepares tax returns for clients as the President of The Tax Center Inc. in West Bridgewater. When asked about his decision to enter the tax return business all those years ago he replied, “Well, I have been a CPA, I’ve worked in public and I really decided in the late 80’s that I didn’t want to go through the twelve-month grind, so I started this in 1989.” Despite escaping the twelve-month grind, Mr. Bergstrom still had other challenges to face as he was getting his business up and running.
As is the case with many startups, finding a way to make your business profitable is an important hurdle to clear. This was one of Mr. Bergstrom’s biggest challenges as he was building his business saying, “The first five years or so I made nearly nothing. It was a struggle; my spouse was an attorney, basically supporting us the first five years, that was the toughest thing.” Times like these can make or break a new business, making ends much more difficult to meet when there are little to no profits for the new business owner to support themselves financially. Yet, being a passionate business owner, Mr. Bergstrom found inspiration and satisfaction in the service he and his business were providing to their customers which helped him push through the tough times. He explained, “…quite frankly I love what I do. I’m at a point where I could have retired five or six years ago. I’m not going to retire. I’m never going to retire. I just plain love what I do.”
The Tax Center, Inc. has been in West Bridgewater since the day it was founded. Mr. Bergstrom believes the location of his business has been instrumental in its success, saying, “You know, when you’re in a public business, you have got to have location and you’ve got to have exposure. You can’t work out of your house. And I had originally bought this building in 1982 because I had a real estate company at that time. Come 1989, the real estate business went down the drain, and that’s when I decided to do tax returns. So, I had the building with location and visibility.” An easy to find and access location, and a steady stream of traffic driving by has helped The Tax Center, Inc. attract customers that might have otherwise not have known about his business.
The toughest thing about owning a business in 2020 according to Mr. Bergstrom is quite simply- “The costs. I mean insurance, errors and omission insurance; I mean, just buying my software every year. I’ve been with the same company for 30 years, I’m paying tens of thousands of dollars a year just for my software.” Despite these costs, Mr. Bergstrom insists on using the best software available because it helps him maintain efficiency. “I do 2,000 returns a year, if I was using something less than what I’m using, it would be a lot tougher.” Technology has played a part in the growth and success of The Tax Center, Inc. In the early years of his business, tax returns would have to be filed by mail. Now they can be filed with the IRS in “the click of a button” according to Mr. Bergstrom, which gets his clients their returns faster.
Every business is looking to seek competitive advantage over their competitors. In the case of The Tax Center, Inc., excellent service, price, and unparalleled experience is what sets them apart. “I’ve seen everything, done everything, I’ve probably got thirty thousand returns under my belt” Mr. Bergstrom said, “my partner is a tax attorney. Compare us to anybody out there, it’s no comparison. We’re head and shoulders above [the competition].”
Mr. Bergstrom’s business is currently not spending on advertising. Instead, Mr. Bergstrom has been relying on referrals, word of mouth, and internet reviews. He often has customers referred to him by other customers who were happy with his work. Additionally, he frequently gets customers who found their way to his office by reading “all kinds of good reviews” from websites such as Yelp.com and Google.