MarketMate interview with Ben Loggins
Ben R. Loggins, Founder of Loggins Kern and McCombs, is a native of East Point, Georgia. He and his wife, Theresa, have made their home in the area since 1984.
He received his BBA and MBA from Georgia State University in Atlanta. Ben also served with the Internal Revenue Service as an agent and instructor for over six years. In addition, he spent over two years with an International Accounting Firm before coming to Jonesboro to form an accounting firm in 1980. His firm, Loggins and Associates P.C., has grown to 15 employees.
Some of Ben’s activities have included teaching a course on Accounting and QuickBooks at Clayton State College, Treasurer of Clayton County Rotary Club, Director of Southern Regional Medical Center Foundation, Director of Clayton Community Foundation, Treasurer for the Georgia Figure Skating Club, Member of the Governing Council and Finance Committee of the US Figure Skating Association, Treasurer for the Clayton County Olympic Committee, Executive Director of Atlanta Alumni of Revenue Agents, Director of Bay View Homeowner’s Association, and member of both the American Institute of CPAs and Georgia Society of CPAs.
In addition, Ben has presented numerous tax planning seminars in the metropolitan area.
Intro: Broadcasting live from the Business RadioX studios in Atlanta, Georgia, it's time for Atlanta Business Radio, spotlighting the city's best businesses and the people who lead them.
Stone Payton: Welcome to this very special edition of Atlanta Business Radio. It is time for MarketMate Atlanta. Stone Payton and Mr. Corey Rieck here with you. Good morning, sir. How have you been?
Corey Rieck: I've been great, Stone. How are you doing?
Stone Payton: I am doing well. Whirlwind tour. Went down to Pensacola, enjoyed Labor Day down there. Looks like we're going to get some studios going in Florida. Of course, we already have Pensacola, but it looks like Tallahassee and Tampa are soon coming on board. So, having some fun, man.
Corey Rieck: Oh, that's great. Great news.
Stone Payton: So, tell us, who did you bring with you this morning?
Corey Rieck: Well, today we have Ben Loggins, and he is the founder of what is now Loggins Kern McCombs. And Ben has incredible knowledge and history as a CPA and tax expert, and we're pleased to have him on the show. He's been a tremendous referral partner and resource for my company. He's been my CPA for going on 20 years now. Just a great guy. Great advice. Great experience. Ben, welcome to the show.
Ben Loggins: Thank you, Corey. Glad to be here.
Corey Rieck: So, Ben, you have a wealth of experience with tax, giving tax advice and history. Walk us through, for the listenership, your work history.
Ben Loggins: Well, I started off when I got out of college a long time ago and, basically, got a job at the IRS. So, I started off as IRS field agent.
Corey Rieck: You did that willingly, right?
Ben Loggins: I did it willingly. They were willing to pay me, and I went, and did it. I tell people I never hated my job at the IRS. I hated the bureaucracy. The bureaucracy would constrain you or not let you do the things you needed to do for the good of the tax administration, but they would restrain you and tell you what to go do. And it wasn't quite as exciting from a promotion standpoint stuff. So, I started looking for another job, and found a job after seven years at the IRS with what was then Touche Ross, later became Deloitte, merged with Deloitte.
And then, after three years there, I went out on my own in 1980, and I've been out in Jonesboro ever since. And we have an office in Jonesboro, and we have a little office at Atlanta Tech Village and Buckhead where we meet clients. And then, I have a meeting space up in Sandy Springs where I also meet with clients. So, we're spread around. And now, we're up to about 20 employees. And it's me and 19 women. That's exciting stuff out there, but they've been with me a long time. Over half my employees been with me more than probably 20 years.
Corey Rieck: Yeah, that's one of the things I admire most about your organization is how you are keeping people there. And they've been there 10, 15, 20 years in some cases. How did you do that?
Ben Loggins: Well, in fact, my two partners - I made partners a few years ago - had been with me 35 years. So, it's just treat people right, treat them the way you want to be treated, try to make it families come first, so they're able to take off to go to their kids' ball games and do things like that. And so, we work flextime in there. So, I said as long as the work gets done, it's not imperative that you be sitting here at the office. Certainly, we need to exchange ideas, and it's good to have people in office, so I don't want to work in remote all the time. But still, they appreciate the flexibility that the firm offers them to live their lives, and enjoy their kids, and do things like that.
Corey Rieck: With the flex scheduling, how did you arrive to bring that to your company? Was there a jumping off point or how did you decide to do that?
Ben Loggins: Well, when I had a child, I wanted flex scheduling. And so, I wanted to treat the rest of them the same as I wanted to be treated. So, again, like I'm saying, it works real well. And my daughter was a competitive ice skater. And so, I took off a couple times a week to take her ice skating. And I did work at the rink. I do meet with clients up in the area wherever the skating rink was, but the flexibility of that worked well for me.
Corey Rieck: So, have you been in Atlanta, in the Jonesboro area, your entire life?
Ben Loggins: I grew up in good ole East Point. So, yes, I've been on the south side of Atlanta, lived there my entire life.
Corey Rieck: And you've had almost 50 years of experience with tax-related matters, right?
Ben Loggins: Correct.
Corey Rieck: I bet you've seen some changes.
Ben Loggins: Oh, I've seen lots of changes. I always love it when they come out with the new law, and they call it simplification because it's never simplification. So, this last law they passed, and they said, "Oh, we're going to let you file on a postcard." And of course, it's a postcard, which is a summary of all the stupid schedules they attached to it. So, there's no true postcard. So, it's interesting how they promote stuff and work stuff. But the law has remained, the foundation laws remained the same over the 50 years I've been involved in it.
Ben Loggins: Of course, back in the '70s, Jimmy Carter years, the tax rate got up to 70%. And then, Reagan came in and dropped it back down to 35%, I believe is what it dropped to at that point in time. So, it was a big change in the early '80s when we had that big tax change. But that was really just a rate difference. The laws have pretty much remained pretty, much the same as what you can deduct, which you can't deduct, what income is. Those pretty much remained virtually all the same.
Corey Rieck: Personally, as a client of yours, and I have been for 20 years, I think that to me there's certainly a wealth of experience. The fact that you've been here a long time, you have people that have been in your organization working for you and with you for a long time. I see that as an advantage. Does that translate into a competitive advantage for you, do you think?
Ben Loggins: Oh, I believe so. We get most of our clients from referrals. And the main complaint clients have about their prior accountant is they didn't respond to them, they didn't communicate.
Corey Rieck: Gee, I've never heard that.
Ben Loggins: Yeah. We're telling you all, keeping up with you. And so, it's a matter of staying on top of a client, having a client know that you care about them and you're concerned with what's going on in their life and their deductions, and try to maximize their deductions, so they reduce their amount of tax liabilities is what we try to do.
Corey Rieck: Well, and I think, for me, it's very simple for me to make an introduction for your firm because we have the experience with you 20 years. It's good experience. I pretty much do everything you tell me, and you follow up. And one of the chief concerns I hear from clients when we get done finishing our end of the work is, "Gee, I haven't heard from my accountant," or "They don't call me back," or, "They don't follow up with me in a timely fashion."
And I think that's one of the things that sets you apart as you're on top of things. You don't let any grass grow on referrals. You shine when you get in front of people. And I think aside from the fact that you have a good company and a good team that has been with you a long time, to me, it's an advantage that you worked for the IRS. I don't know why, but for me, I think I'm never going to have a problem with the IRS because I had somebody that worked with them that can help me.
Ben Loggins: Well, certainly, we're there to help you, and I understand how IRS works. And as long as what you're trying to do is a legitimate transaction, then, yeah, we're able to get it done. I had one client several years ago, his employer decided at the last minute he would him a 1099 rather than the W2. So, I don't know, he had $80,000 dollars for 20 withholding, and he gave him 1099 for $60,000. It took us six years to correct that. But after six years of fighting with the IRS, they gave him credit for the $20,000 withholding and gave him a refund.
So, there are ways to do that kind of stuff. As long as you're right, we can win eventually. It's just sometimes a slow go on how things get done, but we see issues like that all the time of people that haven't done what they wanted. And I tell them, "Look, if you're willing to start doing what's right, IRS will work with you." IRS will always work with you if you're going to try to live the right line, and then make payments on the old money, or do what you can do with the old, but you've got to show that you're doing right. If you've continuing to rob a liquor store every weekend, then they're not going to be good with you. I mean, you got to say, "No, I'm going to be right, and I'm going to withhold. I'm going to file what I need to file," and then IRS will work with you. And that's the way we've always been able to accomplish things.
Corey Rieck: Well, that's certainly some great advice. And I think that there's an advantage for you because you know where all the bodies are buried. You've been at this for a long time. I mean, to me, I think it's a selling point if there needs to be any negotiation with the IRS that you have that experience as an agent almost 50 years ago. The fact that you used to train agents, to me, that translates into a significant competitive advantage, especially for somebody that is negotiating with the IRS on any one of a number of matters.
Ben Loggins: Right. And we get referrals from other CPAs that refer us business because they realize we have the IRS ability to communicate and work with the IRS. So, yes, that's one of our big points.
Corey Rieck: When did you decide that you had to start what is now Loggins Kern McCombs? I mean, was there an event? A chain of events?
Ben Loggins: No. And again, I got the IRS. I got tired of working with the bureaucracy left there. But when I was with the big firm, after three years there, I saw that my clients were the huge clients, and I wasn't able to have the connection with them that I wanted to have with small clients like I do with you. I'm able to talk to the business owner, we're able to communicate, we're able to work things out. That's what I enjoy doing.
So, that's when I went out with a partner at that point in time, and we built a business based upon the ability to work with clients. We want clients to feel like we're not just form preparers. We actually help them design transactions in their business. And we want to be - the term in the industry is a trusted advisor. We want them to come to us for advice before they do a transaction. We don't want somebody to come to us, "Oh, I sold my business last week." "No, dang, that ain't the right thing to do." You need to say, "I want to sell my business? How can I reduce my taxes in the business sale?" And we'll structure the transaction so that you minimize your taxes and maximize the cash flow. It's what we try to do.
Corey Rieck: Yeah, there is so much strategy there. And I think that, certainly, you've been a trusted advisor for me personally in the company, and the ventures I've been involved in, and to others. So, I think that, for me, that's an additional selling point. I've never felt, at any time, that you were just filling out forms. I always felt like I was getting advice. I think you filled in the blanks. I mean, there's a certain amount of form completing that I think has to be done, but I always felt like I was getting additional good advice. And sometimes, thousands of dollars of tax savings advice. So, for me, my experience with you has been excellent.
Ben Loggins: I think it's tens of thousands of dollars of tax, not just thousands. But now, the main thing is I can look at a tax return, it reads like a book. And when IRS looks at a tax return, it reads like a book to them. So, you want to be sure that you're telling the correct story. If you tell them something incorrect, it may result in an audit or something. You don't want to do that. You want to be sure that you're telling them the correct stuff, and communicating with them, and filling the form out correctly.
So, that's a big part of it is what we put on the form and how do we put it in the form. How do we tell your story to the IRS is something we pride ourselves on doing. So, yes, we're really trying to be proactive with our clients. It's what we try to do. And I've got a great staff. There's a total of six CPAs right now, and we have two more working toward their CPA. So, even though we're a small firm, we're certainly big enough to handle most clients' needs that we have and it works well. I've got just fantastic people working for and with me.
Corey Rieck: Yeah. Yeah, you certainly do. I'd say that. So, when you started, when did you hire your first employee, and what was the thinking there, and what did they do, and all that?
Ben Loggins: Well, I tell people, "Look, if you don't have employees that you can leverage off of, all you got is a job." So, you've got to have employees that you leverage off of in order to give you income. You make an income off of them, then you have a business. And so, pretty-
Corey Rieck: That's true.
Ben Loggins: Pretty soon, we determined that, "Look, we don't need to be running a copy machine making copies. I mean, that's not how we can charge our fees and be a value to the client. We need to have a clerical person do those clerical jobs in order to be able to charge the kind of rates we need to charge to take care of us and bring that value to the customer." Most clients, I tell them, ""Look." They ask me, "Well, what are you going to charge me?" And I tell, "Look, I'm not going to charge you anything. You're going to save more money by hiring me. Then, you're going to pay on me. So, I'm a profit center for you. I'm not an expense center." And if client will engage-
Corey Rieck: I would agree with that.
Ben Loggins: If a client would engage us like that, then, yeah, it worked great for us and great for them too.
Corey Rieck: Yeah, yeah. I think that that's something I've certainly learned over the years is that leverage, that's certainly something you have to do with all the contacts that you have. And certainly, it's the highest, best use of your time, and what you like doing, what you're very good at. I mean, you can certainly do those other things, but is that the highest, best use of your time.
Ben Loggins: Right. And are you worth your rate doing that is really what it comes down to. And you've done a great job. You've hired a couple of people now to take those clerical functions off for you and the follow-up functions, and allowed you to be more proactive in selling stuff. So, I'm real proud of what you ... And I'll take full credit for your success.
Corey Rieck: I'll give it to you. I think, in fairness - and I appreciate the kind words, I think everybody has to get to that point wherever it is, where they realize, "Okay, I need to be doing certain things." And with me, I don't need to be processing my taxes. That needs to be you. I couldn't possibly know what you know. And you know what? I don't like doing it.
Ben Loggins: You're right.
Corey Rieck: So, where's the decision? I just need to give you what you need, you need to put it together, but that translates to other aspects of the business. And I think when I write a case, it could take six weeks to get it through underwriting. Sure, I could spend the time with the client getting the underwriting, and the medical records, and all that stuff, but Amber is far better suited to do that than me. And I realized that if you have 10 or 15 deals in underwriting, you can spend one to two days a week figuring out, "Hey, where's everything at?" And I realize highest best use is things that are business development-related. That's what I like doing. And so, it's been a maturation. And I imagine that every business owner has to get to a point where you got to say, "Hey, highest best use of my time, what do I like doing? What do I excel at?" And you've certainly been a part of that process, no question.
Ben Loggins: I appreciate that. One of the other things we're involved in, I've got three Quickbooks pro advisors on our staff. And I don't know, Quickbooks is certainly the monster in the bookkeeping industry. And you look at the box and it says, "You can do this yourself. You don't need an accountant." And, well, yeah, you can look it up yourself, but if you don't understand what the outcome is going to be, then certainly. So, we do probably 50% of our business is Quickbook's mentoring. Try to mentor clients, so that they realize here's what data can get from Quickbooks that gives me data to make management decisions. And again, it's part of that advisor thing. We want to be proactive with our clients, so they're more profitable and they need more help from us. That kind of comes along. And then, we're able to build what we need to build to to do what we need to do.
Corey Rieck: Yeah. You've certainly set yourself apart with that. And you have a certain client that you want now. And tell us about how that's evolved. I mean, when I think of a CPA for a business owner, you're the first name that comes to mind. So, you've certainly done your fair share of branding with me, but if you had an ideal client for the listenership, how would you describe it?
Ben Loggins: Well, an ideal client, and we have a handful of ideal clients, it's client that that bonds with me and has trusted me to bring me in when they need to make decisions, number one. And number two, it's a client who is successful and wants us to assist them in getting their books properly, and setting up transactions either, sometimes, with vendors. Generally, when they sell their business, we're involved in that heavily. We're involved at one right now, selling a business for $17 million, and we're structuring it to minimize their tax liability on it. So, there's a lot of things they can do in that.
We do a lot with like-kind exchanges. The new law only allows you to do like-kind exchange with real estate, but there's a lot of things you can do with like-kind of exchange in order to minimize your taxes later.
Corey Rieck: What does that mean, Ben?
Ben Loggins: It's where you take and sell one piece of real estate and buy another one simultaneous, more or less, and don't pay any tax on that first transaction. We rolled that gain over into reduced basis in the new transaction. So, it can be a great deal for people that are buying and selling businesses or for real estate now. But still, there's a lot of things that can be done there to reduce your taxes. And that's what we're always looking for. There's an angle that we can reduce your tax. But a client will come to me and say, "Look, can I do this?" and I'll say, "Well, no, you can't do that. But here's what you can do to accomplish the same goal." And that's really what we want to do is get them to where they want to be and keeping them out of the area where they're going to get in trouble.
Corey Rieck: Yeah, certainly, that makes sense. I mean, I think your mastery of the tax law and how to apply the law, again, for me, going back to your history as working for the IRS, I mean, you have unique experience and a significant advantage for people to guide them and use the tax law appropriately.
Ben Loggins: Well, we try to. And again, I tell people that being an accountant, it's somewhat being like a doctor. And every time you go to operate to move the kidney somewhere else in the body. We'll get a new tax law and it'll say, "Oh, gee. No, this is not any good." The new tax law that just passed, what, a year and a half ago said you can't do entertainment anymore. Eliminated entertainment. So, what can you do? Well you can still claim meals? It was in a meal. So, now you've got to separate your entertainment from meals. So, if you take me to a ball game, then we want to buy the meals separate from the tickets. We don't have the buffet included in the price. That way, the meals are still deductible. So, it's a matter of structuring the transaction to maximize whatever tax benefits there are in it.
Corey Rieck: Yeah, that's a great point. You mentioned that you were working with ... I know you've worked with a number of people that are selling the businesses, but to somebody that is thinking about selling their business, what advice would you give them?
Ben Loggins: Well, you got to look at what it is. You want to maximize your capital gain in it, so you're paying a lower tax rate. There's something called hot assets in a business sale, which you pay ordinary income on, which should be the recapture of depreciation, or accounts receivable, or things like that that are going to be taxed at ordinary rates. And you want to minimize that ordinary rate calculation or tax to you. So, it's a matter of structuring that. And then, how do you want to be paid out. And that's if it's going to spike your income all in one year, if you could spread it out over several years, that'll work good too because you'll be able to use the lower tax rate in the future years in order to minimize the tax again too.
Same thing with retirement, if you are able to move some of that money one way or another into a retirement plan and draw it out, pay for your retirement for the next 30, 40 years. In your case, it will be 40 years. You take care of yourself. He works out like every day. He's just Mr. Model of Exercise. Of course, I had another client and you know who I thought also was the picture of health. And then, she has an aneurysm and, now, she's paralyzed. So, again, even though she was-
Corey Rieck: Really unfortunate.
Ben Loggins: ... the picture of health really before that happened. So, you can't ever really tell what's going to happen. But it's a matter of how do we maximize your cash flow to you and your pocket after the IRS takes what they think is the part they need to take.
Corey Rieck: So, there's a strategy, though, usually with getting a business ready to sell, and there's some iterations to probably go through there. And I'm sure you're involved with that, aren't you?
Ben Loggins: A lot of times, we are. Sometimes, we're not. If you say, "Look, I want to sell my business in three or four years," most people pay you on income. So, you might want to say, "Look, what can I do to increase my income? What can I do to increase the value I'm going to get out of the business? And do I take an employment contract on the back end where I work for them for several years? How much are they going to pay me there?" There's a lot of transactions there that can be effective, again, of how much net cash do you end up in your pocket at the end of the day is what we're trying to focus on.
Corey Rieck: But it seems to me from what I've seen interacting with business owners that have sold their businesses, it can sometimes take years to get ready to get to a place where it's salable, though, right? I mean, aren't there things that need to be done prep-wise, book-wise, cleanup-wise?
Ben Loggins: Oh, no doubt about it. I mean, when they come in to do due diligence, when the person's buying you, they're going to ask you a book of questions about how many suits you've had in the past, any problems you've had. You, what your vendor mix is, what your customer mix is. There's a lot of things there that would be good that you're able to clean up and make them nicer for the purchaser, then yours looks more purchasable is really what you want to look.
Corey Rieck: Yeah, certainly. And sometimes, that can take years.
Ben Loggins: Oh, yeah, it can take years. Yeah.
Corey Rieck: And this just in. Sometimes, business owners, what they think their business is worth might be different than what you think it's worth, right?
Ben Loggins: Well, most always. Going back to what I said earlier, do you have a business or do you just have a job? I had a client who was a pool cleaner. They come to me, "I want to sell my business." I said, "Well, how much you're making?" "I'm making $50,000 dollars a year." Well, when you can sell a business, you've got to assume that I'm going to buy your business, and I'm going to hire someone to do what you did. And then, I'm going to pay you part of what's set over there. Then, I've got to hire someone for $50,000 dollars to do what you were doing. It has no value. The business has no value because, again, it's just that's the job.
Corey Rieck: I'll bet that's cheered him up.
Ben Loggins: Oh, that did cheer him up. And he ended up just closing up and not getting anything for his business because he couldn't find a buyer. And so, again, you've got to structure your business, so that you're able to step back. You look at the big businesses that are out there. And I look at Chick-fil-A, which is a huge model in Southside Atlanta, they've been a great-
Corey Rieck: It's a huge model anyway.
Ben Loggins: Well, they've done a great job of mentoring and bringing their executives along. They've done a great job of that. So, it's not just all the owner who's the main driver and knows everything. We come into clients quite often, and the owner knows everything and does everything. No, no, you've got to mentor your employees, so they can take these functions off of you or else wise, it's going to be hard to sell it.
Corey Rieck: Yeah. So, theoretically, isn't a business worth more if it doesn't need the owner to run?
Ben Loggins: Oh, yes. It's certainly worth more if it'll run on its own.
Corey Rieck: Yeah, yeah. So, with regard to your history, and you've been at this a long time, you started your company in 1980, you took on some partners in 2013, how did you arrive at the fact that, "Hey, I need to get some partners?”
Ben Loggins: Well, in the accounting industry, there's a couple of ways to exit. Some accountants exit in closing their doors and getting nothing for it. I get clients all the time from, "Oh, my accountant died last year. He retired and didn't anything with me." Like, he gets no value out of his business. So, you want it structured, so that you transfer the business to someone else. And my two partners are fantastic women, and they do a great job. So, I'm going to slowly fade away. The question is, well, again, you've got to mentor those executives or that team to step in behind you, or you've got to merge with a bigger firm in order to sell your business.
It's the same thing with most any business and your business. It would be, what would you do? You'd either got to bring some young person up behind you to do what you're doing, or you've got to merge with a bigger insurance company that this becomes part of their package or their sales product. So, it's a matter of, what are you going to do when that time comes? If you were to die today, I mean, your business would pretty much evaporate, right?
Corey Rieck: Well, not really. I mean, I've got a system set up where the money would go. The money would keep flowing.
Ben Loggins: Well, you got the residuals coming in on the old contracts, but nobody would be selling new contracts.
Corey Rieck: Well, I mean, so I'd have the residual on all the existing clients, yes. But no one in my company would be selling new contracts, at least not as it stands right now.
Ben Loggins: But your model is great from a residual contract. I bought long-term care insurance from you several years ago, and I'm certainly not going to give it up. People, once they buy long-term care, generally, they keep it because once they've invested a few years into, it's going to continue to grow. So, that's a good thing. And residuals are a great piece of your puzzle.
Corey Rieck: It is.
Ben Loggins: It works really well for you. So, that part's good. In our case, we have no residuals. We got to either keep the clients we have happy or bring in new clients.
Corey Rieck: I think with how did you decide over the years, you know, sort of what your do you have a certain client that you're looking for? I mean, I know you're really helpful to everybody. I introduce you. But if you had your druthers, if somebody said to you, will, Ben, what what is your client what would you tell him?
Ben Loggins: Well, it's more of the small service business. We have a lot of doctors, lawyers, pool cleaning people. I mean, we do have two or three well, but we probably have 10 manufacturers. A couple of them are real big. And a couple of those, we'll go out and partner with another CPA firm to come in and do the certified audits or to do things that we're not maybe have the expertise and we don't do certified audits. We bring out an audit relationship we have for someone else to do the audit. And that worked well for us. But again, we want to be there, their adviser. We want to be in there giving them tell them how to run their business and giving help there rather than doing those other things out there. So that's our sweet spot is some client who's willing to work with us, willing to listen to us. And like I'm saying, about 80 percent of our service based of one kind or another.
Corey Rieck: So with with regard to the transition, you were kind of the the head honcho for 33 years and in 2013, you decided to take on a couple of partners. How did you if you mind, if you can talk generally about how it was structured and I know that you have a definitive exit strategy. How did you arrive at that?
Ben Loggins: Well, you look, there's industry standards. I went out and we hired a national expert in firm transition to come in and give us a little bit of advice. And he came in, gave us some valuable advice. That's what you want to do in any business, is reach out to experts in whatever you want to go into whether it's an accounting or, you know, insurance or whatever. You want to find someone who's an expert in that and to be able to help you do that transition. But the two women have been with me 30… Well, they joined me in 1984, so they've been with me thirty five years now and so they were with me thirty years at the time and I certainly said do y’all want to do this and they said, well as long as you'll stay around and work with us for a number of years to make the transition and I agreed to do that. So we were able to work out the deal. And they're magnificent people and I really love working with them. And I feel like we have a family there. So it works great.
Corey Rieck: So you started the process of transferring the ownership in 2013.
Ben Loggins: Correct.
Corey Rieck: And so how did you decide how many more years you were going to work.
Ben Loggins: Well, I mean people say to me, you know, you know, what are you going to do when you retire? And I tell them, look, you've got to find something that you enjoy doing that keeps you active, that you feel like you're of value to people. I tell people I'm going to tell you one personal story here, which is which is kind of tough, but my grandfather, he was eighty one. His wife, my grandmother had rheumatoid arthritis. Every day he'd get up and lift her out of bed, get her dressed in a wheelchair. One day he couldn't lift her out of bed. He said, I'm done. Stopped eating three weeks later, he's dead. So you've got to have value in like, you know, you've got to feel like you're of value to someone else.
I feel like I already do it. So I plan to keep working as long as I bring value to them, as long as I can get up and come to the store. There was an article in one of the CPA magazines recently that said, you know, Accountant 99 comes to work every day. And I'm thinking, I don't know if I’ll make it that far or not. You got me for another 30 years if that's the case, because, again, as long as I can bring value to them and to the firm and to the clients, that's going to be my hobby in retirement, so to speak will continuing to work.
Corey Rieck: Well, I see a number of things. I mean, for what it's worth, I see a number of things that you did right. I mean, early on, you identified you probably knew for a long time that if you were going to transfer the ownership of the business that, you know, the two ladies that you transferred to, you know, they were you identified them a long time ago before 2013.
Ben Loggins:Oh, no doubt about it.
Corey Rieck: Yeah. And that that, I think was very, very sharp on your part. You know, when I think of you, I think, well, I don't I don't know if you have any other hobbies other than being a CPA and doing what you're doing. I know you have the UFO thing, but when I think of you, I think about, you know, you're interacting with business owners, you're using your history as an IRS auditor. And, you know, somebody that's provided great advice over the years to help people manage the tax laws.
Ben Loggins: Well, that's what I enjoy doing. I enjoy dealing with clients and I enjoy dealing with clients that enjoy working with me. I mean, I feel like so many of my clients are are family to me. I've been asked to and have been executor in a couple of estates when they passed away. You know, I don't mind doing that. I had one client come to me one time, said, look, would you be my executor? No, I don't know your family that well. I don't know you well enough to agree to do that. Yeah, so but the clients I've known for a long time that I do it, certainly that's a it's a it's something I do enjoy doing and working with their families and feeling like they are part of my family. Really.
Stone Payton All right. Wait a minute. Are we just going to gloss over this UFO thing? What did you mean?
Corey Rieck: Well, I knew you'd have a question in there somewhere.
Stone Payton: There's some I have some other questions. But you just sort of very quickly, you said I know you have the UFO thing.
Corey Rieck: Well, so Ben has Ben has this hobby and this this history. And I'll let you tell it, he gives these talks on UFOs. It's interesting.
Ben Loggins: It’s interesting. And but my daughter about I guess I don't know, 1999, 2000, she took an interest in a TV show called Roswell and she said, I’d like to go out to Roswell and see about the…
Stone Payton: Roswell Georgia?
Ben Loggins: Roswell, New Mexico. And so we've been out there three times. The last time we went out there was on a dig of the crash site. It was interesting dealing with a bunch of movement people. But I do have this little program I give to exempt organizations, probably up to thirty Rotary Clubs about the fact and fiction surrounding the UFO crash in Roswell, New Mexico.
Yes, it's interesting. It's people say, do you believe? I believe the government's lying to us when the government lies to us about so much stuff. And, you know, any time they're lying to you, it's like, well, gee, what's the truth? And we really don't know. So you have all these theories as to what the truth is. And really, we don't know what the truth is. We just know they're they're lying to us.
Stone Payton: Well, and we know the U is true. It's unidentified. We don't know what the heck it was. Right?
Ben Loggins: Yeah. And well, and I've interviewed a number of basically eyewitness people who were were there at the time and either handled the material, handled the crash material or something like that. So I've been involved in that a good bit and it's an enjoyable interest to me. So, yeah, that's that's one little hobby I have, which is I enjoy doing public speaking. And people, when I public speak, seem to like to hear the Roswell story as a public speech. So I developed that. I went to a group one time. They said, oh, we got other CPAs in our group. And I said, I'm not going to get any business from this talk. You know, I didn't like I'm in here as a competitive speaker. I do have talks I've given on taxes. And I enjoy speaking, the IRS trained me as a classroom instructor, so I enjoy doing public speaking. So I found this is a way to do public speaking. That's not tax. And people would get some enjoyment out of just in a pure tax speeches.
Stone Payton: Well, I think I would thoroughly enjoy attending one of those. I want to know when you have the next one, but I do have a couple of questions around the I guess I would call it the mechanics of these relationships that you have with a term you used earlier in the conversation as trusted advisers. And so in my mind, it makes perfect sense to me that my CPA might even be, I don't know, like my quarterback. Right? And maybe…
Ben Loggins: Well, he's not going to be a quarterback. He's going to be one of the coaches on the side. You're still going to run the ball and everything and throw the ball. But he's going to be a coach and he'll say, how about running K-14 play or something like that. He'll, you know, give you some ideas what you need to do, but you're still going to go out there and execute the plan.
Stone Payton: It's and but I'm feeling like I can go to my coach and say, you know what, Coach? You know, my cousin, my nephew, they've been talking a lot about this long term care planning thing. And so it sounds like, you know, you may kind of connect me with a resource like Corey, but I'm interested in the mechanics. Like, do you do you introduce us personally? Do you give me Corey's phone number? How do you you know, the vetting of these people and how you how you connect them?
Ben Loggins: Well, I’ve vetted most of them because they've been clients for years. So I refer to clients. Certainly I refer business to Corey. I have other insurance people I refer.
Corey Rieck: For that we're very grateful.
Ben Loggins: I have other insurance people that are referred to for, you know, personal property.
Stone Payton: Probably an estate attorney, probably..
Ben Loggins: I’ve also got estate attorneys that I refer to. So I've got this huge category of clients who are great at what they do. And I refer business to them. I mean, so if you needed someone to put a screened in porch on your house and. Well, that's just in Peachtree City. But I'd tell you that I'd refer you to my screened porch guy.
Stone Payton: You got a guy, right?
Ben Loggins: I’ve got a guy.
Stone Payton: So the mechanics of that. So what's the best way to do that?
Ben Loggins: And generally, I'll say, well, look, you want to have outside someone like Corey, do you want Corey to contact you? And generally they'll say, yes, have Corey contact us. So generally then I refer to Corey and he'll contact them and reach out to him. He's done a couple of fantastic long term care packages that I didn't see how they could get insurance. And he's been found a way to do insurance. There are certain products that with annuities wrapped around them, other things like that that he does, that you'd think you wouldn’t be able to get long term care, that you were able to get long term care. I've seen him out on vacation, which I'm still disappointed to today. And this is, what, a year ago he went out and met with this young lady. She was 70. I said, you need long term care. And she says, I know, I know. But she met with Corey and she just said, oh, that's too much money. And of course, it wasn't too much money. But then she had a stroke. Now she's totally disabled and certainly could have used that four thousand dollars a month Corey was going to was going to provide her with but so you know, clients that need it. I talk to most of my elderly clients or people over 60. I don't say elderly because I don't consider 60 elderly people.
Stone Payton: Neither do I.
Ben Loggins: So but I speak to most of them. Do you have long term care? And if they say yes, I say, that's great. If you're happy with it, that's great. If they say no, then I say, well, you need to consider it. You talk to Corey, you need to because he's the best expert in this area. I have other clients who sell long term care, but they do it as an add on kind of product. They really don't understand the whole dynamic of the long term care industry that that Corey does. So Corey's by far the most knowledgeable person in long term care that I know. So I refer to him. If you were to say to me, look, I need someone to build a swimming pool. I got a swimming pool company. They do a great job there. So I'd say, look, let me have Hilltop Pools, give you a call and they'll come out.
Stone Payton: But these are people you've really gotten to know because you're putting your reputation on the line every time you do that.
Ben Loggins: I am. I am. But there are people I've gotten to know that I have total trust in and I believe in. If it's someone that hasn’t been a client for very long, I really don't know enough about him yet that I will hold off referring to him until I feel like I've become integrated part of their business and become their trusted advisor. Some clients see me as a trusted advisor, others see me as a form preparer. And I don't like being thought of as a form preparer. I want to be thought of as a trusted advisor. That's what we try to bring to the table to all of our clients as well. What can we do to make, you know, your cash flow better, your life better? Are your kids in college, where are they going to go to college? How do we want to structure that so that you can minimize your out-of-pocket cost for kids in college?
I mean, there's a lot of things that you can do to make things work better. And we're more than happy to try to work with you to get those things to happen. And once a client sees that, we bring those things to the table, they generally appreciate it.
Stone Payton: I’ll bet they do.
Ben Loggins: And they stay with me and we lose very few clients. So it works great that we got I think we did seventeen hundred tax returns last year, probably half of them business and half of them personal. And most the personal ones really are the business owners, probably a couple of hundred that are unrelated to business. But and so they see as that trusted advisor and we bring all that to the table. We understand what's going on in their business life and their in their personal life. And we're able to tell them, look, here's what you need to do if you have, you know, disabled kids, here's what you need to do to maximize the tax benefits available there. So a lot of things we can do. You know, I had a client not long ago adopt a child and we were able to, I hate to say manipulate, we were able to adjust their income one way or another. So they got the full adoption credit. So it's things like that that are available to you and you want to be able to maximize the things that are on the table. And of course, everything we do is legit. I would never do anything, I couldn't stand up to IRS and argue I'm not saying I'm going to win hundred percent of the time. But you know, the law I've got a law that supports what I'm going to tell them to do.
Corey Rieck: Well, one of the ways that we work with Ben on, when Ben sends a referral, sometimes he'll do an email introduction, virtually introducing the parties. Sometimes somebody will call me because they're on their way out of Ben's office and Ben hasn't had time to pick up the phone and call me. Well, because it's and then it's a positive reflection on Ben many times they’ll call me right away. And they're walking out of his office while I mean, he just made the referral a minute ago.
Ben Loggins: Sometimes I'll actually call when they're in my office. Yeah. And say, look, I got a question about long term care, you know, what do you think? And that that works, too. So, again, it's a matter of connecting my quality clients. I have with the needs of my other customers, my other clients. They have needs. And I know that Corey's going to bring value to the table and he's going to be legit with what he does. So certainly that's what you want to do. You know, every couple of years we find an embezzler. One of our clients have been embezzled generally by their trusted Susan, their Susie, who's trust, who's been there for 20 years and…
Corey Rieck: The bank manager type.
Ben Loggins: Yeah, that's generally who we found to be the embezzler. And it's a situation where the client is really not utilizing us for anything but for year end and maybe a little bit of planning. But they turned around. They said, well, Susan has been with me 20 years. I've taken on vacations with me. I've done everything with me. And and Susie comes up on hard times, maybe going through a divorce, maybe has a child that needs money for college or something like that. And Susie says oh, the bossman’s not paying attention to what I'm doing. So here's a few bucks here. There. And so you see that again every couple of years we found one of those and it's it's tough to deal with. But, you know, the client generally brings us in.
We try to work out a way to get as much money back as we can to deal with the the employee. A few of them have gone to jail most of the time because it's been Susie and has been with me twenty years. They don't want to put them in jail. They trust Susie, she's my family and here she's done this to me. They certainly feel violated. It's like your spouse catching your spouse, having an affair or something like that. It's really, you know, in fact, when I talk to I, I think I would catch my wife having an affair before I caught Susie stealing from me because I trust Susie more than I trust my spouse. And, you know, those kind of things happen. But it's of the I don't want to get too far off on that tangent, but there was a case and this wasn't my client, so I'm not talking out of school, but had an office building in Jonesboro and we had a tenant downstairs, which was a small credit union, and come to find out they had two employees and the office manager, if they mailed you your statement and it came back undeliverable, she’d take the money out of your account, put it in hers. And she had about half million dollars before they caught her.
Corey Rieck: Wow.
Ben Loggins: But you'll see those kind of things. So it's important that the the boss at least overlook somewhat what Susie's doing. You don't want Susie to think no one's looking at what she's doing, you know? That's when it's going to happen. If she gets in a struggle with a divorce or a child in trouble or needs money for some reason or another, then that's when it happens. So it's important that the boss at least look at the checks, look at the stuff, give some overview of what's going on. Or you have if you're big enough business, you have more than one person involved in the accounting to make sure that those things are going together correctly. And some of the cases we've caught the embezzler in most cases, though, the boss catches an employee. One of them, the employee was on vacation and the boss opened the bank statements and who are these checks to, what's going on with this.
And so those kind of things happens, but it's important that you set up your direction. We try to help people set up internal controls so those kind of things minimize the risk of it happening. In a real small business. It's hard to eliminate the risk. In a bigger business. You have two or three layers of review before transactions occur. That's why in big businesses. You have, you know, purchase orders and you have, you know, approval of various transactions because they're trying to prevent that kind of thing from happening.
Corey Rieck: Well, one of the things that while I've learned many things from you and your organization, but one of the things that I've learned is the building your team. And it's easy to refer people if you've had prior experience with them, if they're a client of yours. And, you know, that's part of the vetting process. And so, you know, I think it's easy for me to refer you because, one, I'm a client of yours. And two, you're a client of mine. So it makes it. And I know you're going to bring value to the table. And, you know, sometimes your clients will call me, you know, in your office with you there. Sometimes they'll call me when they're walking out of your office or sometimes you'll send an email. But another thing that I think that separates kind of what our referral relationship is, is, you know, Ben and I belong to a couple of. To one or two networking groups where we see each other frequently, so there's sort of another shot on goal or, you know, it's it makes it easy for me to say, hey, Ben, did you call this person, you know, hey, this guy's having this issue. Would you mind giving him a call? But also, you know, a lot of Ben's clients are near his office, so I'm happy to go down there and meet at his office and and help the client. Sometimes Ben will be at the meetings, and that's very beneficial to have him there because, you know, he has so much experience. He is trusted and the clients like him there to help them with their decision, including not to do any sort of long term care planning.
Ben Loggins: Well, it's that trusted advisor relationship we're trying to build with them and certainly the other networking groups that you and I are involved in. A couple more that I'm involved in that you're not involved in. It's great because you know that building relationships with these other businesses out there and generally when we go into a referral group like that, we end up with a third to half of them becoming our clients.
Corey Rieck: Yeah, and then that doesn't surprise me after knowing you for 20 years, so.
Ben Loggins: But it's just great. Then it's a matter of then I have more resources to refer people to. So again, and there's almost any product you could ask me for, I could refer you to someone in that industry that I've got respect for and I know would do a good job for you.
Corey Rieck: Well, and you probably find like I do the clients come to you for things that are there outside your expertise because they know that you know people. Hey, you know, I have a lot of clients that come to me that, hey, can you I need some life insurance. Can you just do this? And I said, no. And they say, why not? Well, it's not what I do, but I have somebody that does it, that I know has great depth of field, that has great experience. And I know will do a good job for people.
Ben Loggins: And one thing I tell people, too, is you need to find what you do best and do that.
Corey Rieck: 100%
Ben Loggins: Don't try to do things that you don't know how to do.
Corey Rieck: Yeah.
Ben Loggins: And that's why in the accounting industry, we're trying to be more we're into Quickbooks and tax and tax planning is what we're into. We're not into, we don't do certified audits. We don't you know, a lot of things we don't do. If we need to bring an expert in, we'll bring an expert in that I know and have trust in to do some specific transaction, certainly an attorney to do a transaction to build contracts for transactions. So that's what we try to do. And that's what I advise people to do because they get in trouble doing trying to think they can do things they can't do. In your case, you could you could sell insurance pretty easily, you’ve got most of those licenses and stuff. But it be it's like, you know, life insurance and stuff. That's not what you do. You're great at what you do. In fact, you're the the only one I've ever seen that just sells long term care. But you know more about long term care than anybody I've ever met.
Corey Rieck: I appreciate that.
Ben Loggins: So so therefore, you've done a great job at picking what you do best and doing that perfectly. Really, in my opinion.
Corey Rieck: I thank you. I think you have to find something that resonates with you, whether it's being an expert in tax like what you are and your firm is. You've got, you know, certainly a great story. Fifty years, almost fifty years of…
Ben Loggins: You keep making me sound so old.
Corey Rieck: Well you started when you were in third grade.
Ben Loggins: There you go.
Corey Rieck: But I think the fact that even within, you know, within various industries like, you know, being a CPA, you even have subspecialized with, you know, certain aspects and you know, you don't get involved in things that you don't have subject matter expertise. And sometimes that can be hard starting out. But I think in the long term, I think it'll come back to you in spades if you pick, know, one aspect and focus on it in your sort of an inch wide and a mile deep.
Ben Loggins: Right. Now, I agree with that. And that's what I advise most people do when they're picking their business or how they want to build their business or whatever. So you've got to be trustworthy. You've got to follow up with clients. You've got to respond back. You've got to communicate. And then if you can't do something, you've got to tell the client you can’t do it and refer to someone that can. Or if you don't know someone that can, just tell them you can't do it. And so that's what you need to do in order to build that rapport, then to come back to you next time and say, well, gee, you know, last time, you know, I tell that client.. I had a client, not one of our group members over there send his dad to me to look at his tax. And I said, you don't need me to be your tax attorney. It's so simple. Go to AARP and get it done for free. I mean, this is a simple tax return, and..
Corey Rieck: I bet they appreciated that.
Ben Loggins: They did appreciate that. And it's the truth. I mean, I'm not going to sit there and try to charge people things that that's not going to bring value to them. Again, I want to bring value to the table is what I want to do. And that's what I try to live by.
Corey Rieck: How is your role evolved since you started Loggins Kern and McCombs to where you're at now?
Ben Loggins: Well, you know, when I started, I was more in the trenches digging and now I'm more mentoring the younger employees, you know, making connections with customers bring in when they need certain expertise on certain questions. So I'm not really in the trenches. And in fact, you know, I haven’t done a corporate tax return in ten years. My staff does all them do a great job. They come to me with technical questions I’ll help with technical questions, but the forms I don't do any individual returns, I still enjoy doing them, so I still do a lot of individual returns, although I'm trying to again mentor most of that to the staff to do most all of them. And that's the part of my goal. When I step back and even a little bit more just to be there, not really doing the the digging in the trench at all, just giving them expertise, bringing them specialization when they need it on a certain topic or something is what I want to be able to do.
Corey Rieck: Well, one of the things that I see you watch you do that you do really well is business development. Would you say that that's a big portion of what your role is now?
Ben Loggins: It is and I enjoy doing that a lot. I enjoy dealing with people, talking to people again, bringing value to people, explaining to them how their life is going to be better if they hire me, you know, so that's what we try to do with people. And we're constantly working with clients to make their life better from certainly from a cash flow standpoint. And it works, you know, works well, most of the time I bring in the client, communicate with a staff person, is going to do the bulk of the work of both communications if I need to come back in to bring expertise or something like that. But I'm trying to get the mentor the staff people and get them to understand how to do these things and what they need to do to bring value to the client.
Corey Rieck: Yeah, I think that's outstanding. And you certainly have set a very good example for business development and getting out there and being amongst them and networking and building these relationships. And I think it's it's good for the people that you're transitioning the business to. But I think it's also good because you're able to cultivate more resources to bring to the table, metaphorically speaking, that your clients, both individual and business, seem to be sitting at, right?
Ben Loggins: It is. And again, I I enjoy doing that. I enjoy helping people. I enjoy talking to people, enjoy talking about UFOs. I enjoy all these things that I enjoy doing. And that's what it's about, you know, as you transition and probably another 10 years before I'm totally retired or something like that. But I mean, as you transition into that, you need to find something in life that brings you joy and fulfillment. That's what you need to do. And that's what life is about. So that's what I try to do.
Corey Rieck: So you're going to work 10 more years? Is that what I heard?
Ben Loggins: As long as I'm bringing value to the table, I'll be your auditor
Corey Rieck: So you'll be the guy. You'll be the guy. They're the worst at age 99.
Ben Loggins: Yeah. If I can do that at age 99, that would be that would be great. I'd love to do it as long as I’m bringing value to the table. And they certainly want to pay me for my value. That's great. And that's what I want to do.
Corey Rieck: Well, Ben, you've certainly had a tremendous run. And of all of the things that set you and your firm apart, if you had to pick a couple things that differentiate Loggins Kern and McCombs from other CPA firms, what do you think it would be?
Ben Loggins: Well, the main thing is the IRS experience. You know, I know how the IRS thinks about most things. I know how they're going to respond to certain things. And so it's a matter of knowing what to do if an IRS problem comes in. When I first went out there, I had a client who is still my client today and he had been under audit fire risk. They were trying to put him in jail. They've been in audit for three years. It took me two more years. I got the audit finished. Nobody went to jail. He ended up paying fifty thousand dollars and they wanted millions to begin with and it went away. Still, he's my client today. You know, 40 years later, he's still my client because he sees the value that I bring and know how. Now, if you've done something wrong and you deserve to go to jail, you're probably going to go to jail. I can't help that. But if there's if there's communications in there, if the IRS is not understanding something correctly, if you did, you made a mistake. That was an inadvertent mistake of some kind. Yes. Yeah, we can do that. IRS generally doesn't want to put people in jail. They want money. That's what they're out there.
Corey Rieck: This just in..
Ben Loggins: They want to collect money. They'll put people in jail only to make an example. They’ll put you in jail to scare all the other insurance people. But generally they want money. And if you're able to diffuse the the audit early on to get to where it’s just that money thing, not a jail thing, then we’re able to resolve it. And IRS will only go down that road of trying to to do that to you if you're being obstinant to them or.. You don't want to upset them. You want to be straight with them. You want to be honest with them the same time you want to say, look, here's what's fair and here's what stuff. And they generally that's what they want to do, what's fair and what's reasonable.
Corey Rieck: Well, Ben you've certainly had a great run, a lot of great experience, a lot of success. If anybody in the listenership wanted to get a hold of you to talk further about their circumstances, business or personally, how would they do that?
Ben Loggins: Well, the website is logginscpa.com of course, they can google Ben Loggins CPA and they'll come up with the website and reach out to us connecting to the website. And that would be great, and we always give people a first get to know you meeting for free to see if we're the right mix for them, if they need our, if we're going to bring value to their table then certainly that's what we want to do. And 90 percent of those meetings turn into clients. But the other 10 percent like we did with that guy’s dad, it's like you don't need us. This is not something we're not going to bring value to this table. So here's here's what your other options are. You need to go look at those.
Corey Rieck: Is there a phone number that folks might call to set up a meeting?
Ben Loggins: Sure, they can call 770-478-7424 and request a meeting and we would either meet them at one of our, again, Atlanta Sandy Springs location or the Jonesboro location. The Jonesboro location, I own an 11000 square foot building there. We occupy a little over 6000 square foot. So that's where the bulk of the magic happens, is there in that building. I do meet clients in these other locations, which works for us. But if you've got a real detailed problem or big problem, you want to come to us. Some clients, we go and meet with them. We met with one of the other members of our other networking group the other day and the return was a mess. And we went to her office, looked at her bookkeeping, did the things for her, and we're going to be able to fix all her problems for her. And it's going to cost her money because she hadn't paid the taxes she should have paid. But we're going to be legit, minimize the taxes because there are things we can do to minimize them. But still, they got to pay a reasonable amount to keep IRS at bay.
Corey Rieck: Is there an email address that people might reach out to you on.
Ben Loggins: email@example.com
Corey Rieck: Ben, you've had great success over the years. Thank you for being such a great guest. Continued success and thanks again for being a great guest on MarketMates.
Ben Loggins: No problem.
Stone Payton: All right. Until next time this is Stone Payton for Corey Rick, our guest today, Ben Loggins and everyone here at the Business RadioX family saying we'll see you next time on MarketMate Atlanta.