By Jennifer L. Warren
MIDDLETOWN – Enter the office and you begin to feel it right away.
Immediately to your left is a welcoming counter top height table, surrounded by a trio of accompanying chairs – two situated for large screen television viewing.
Atop the table is some informative client information as well as a dish of candy. Look around, and everywhere you will see pieces of an individualized approach, whether it be signs for a recent giveaway contest, a poster advertising a free seminar, or simply holiday decorations, everything about HJM Financial Services is focused on making the client’s experience an educated, unique and memorable one.
That’s the exact philosophy that drove its owner, Clarice Needham, to open the 29 Railroad Avenue, City of Middletown business two years ago. Seeing too many similar operations following a more general, “cookie-cutter” business paradigm, the 12 year Middletown resident Needham, who had been doing taxes from her home for 11years prior to HJM’s opening, was motivated to deliver something different when she took the entrepreneurship leap.
“It was something I had been thinking about for a while, so when I found a spot, I stepped out on faith,” recalled Needham, whose business offers a multitude of services, including; personal and corporate taxes, accounting and bookkeeping, budget preparation, credit repair counseling, and much, much more…all while keeping rates very reasonable.
“We now have over 200 clients and are growing.”
That expansion is a result not only credited to Needham’s stellar reputation in the field, as evidenced by her multitude of customer referrals and client base that spans several states, but also due to an array of little, personalized touches. Clients at HJM are more like family.
Needham, along with her Assistant, Marina Garwood, take the extra time to know each one, staying in continual touch, while providing them with the latest, pertinent details on all the tax laws, changes and anything else that affects their financial spheres. In fact, even client’s children become involved in the equation. Creating an annual “Children with Dreams Gift Giveaway” (part of her foundation), Needham “looks for any children with dreams” to reward during the holiday season. This year’s winner, Miranda Rivera, age 10, has had her sites set for some time on attending an Ivy League School. Already making a plan to save up for that vision, Rivera is selling her personally crafted paintings, one of which sits in the HJM lobby.
Not only are youth connected to the business rewarded for their talents, so too are the clients themselves. Needham has already secured two prizes to present to those with the most customer referrals. Free seminars, like the recent “Embracing Online Banking With Older Adults,” along with an upcoming January mixer and mingle for clients, offering information on changes for the new tax season, further empower clients while building a sense of community within the business. Those connections further extend to the community at large; Needham is a member of the American Express Small Business Saturdays.
For all these reasons and many more, Garwood, an accounting major at SUNY New Paltz, has had a priceless internship experience so far with Needham.
“It’s been really good; we started with a bunch of files and keep on growing, said Garwood. “I’m learning a great deal here, while getting a lot done and really applying it; it’s been great working with Clarice, a really, really good learning experience.”
And that education is bound to continue, as Needham is eying more goals for the business as 2018 kicks off. With a five year expansion plan in mind, Needham is looking to open an office either in New York City or another state. She is also intent on providing more training for accounting software for small businesses, getting them more organized and efficient.
“One of my biggest goals is to help them really understand what they are doing, and making it easier all the way around,” explained Needham.
With all the activity at HJM, challenges are inevitable. Getting the name out to the public-marketing-has not always been easy. However, time is always made to take advantage of any opportunity to do so, as the rewards of helping as many more as possible with their financial concerns in this individualized manner are well worth the effort.
“It is so rewarding to grow this business,” said a smiling Needham. “At the end of the day, I can look back and say we have come this far, seeing the number of clients, and coming up with new ideas to offer as well as making any needed change to improve.”
Needham can also reflect on the specialness of being a female business owner, something she takes great pride in.
“It’s really nice to be a female business owner because it’s about empowering all women across the board,” said Needham, a member of the New York State Minority Women in Business. “It’s about accomplishing things, while standing up for ourselves and showing we really can do it.”
To learn more about HJM Services, check out their website: hjmmanagement.com or call them at: (845) 394-0186.