Not yet two months into the job, H&R Block CEO Alan Bennett is focused on next year's early tax filers and how to win their business.
He said Block did a poor job of that each of the last two years.
Part of that was the weak economy and high unemployment. But part of it was Block's fault, by his estimation.
Bennett found fault with an advertising campaign that was too focused on the company's brand and not enough on getting customers to come to Block's tax preparation offices.
"We're going to have to be sharper," Bennett said. "We don't see a lot of help from the economy unless there's a stimulus package."
Bennett, who served as interim CEO in 2007 and 2008, was named president and CEO in July after the departure of Russ Smyth.
Although, for competitive reasons, Bennett wouldn't get into Block's campaign ideas, he said the company is working on designing the ads now.
Block said Thursday that cost-cutting helped it trim losses during its fiscal first quarter, which covers the traditionally slow months following tax filing season.
The Kansas City-based company said it lost $130.7 million, or 41 cents a share, compared with losses of $133.6 million, or 40 cents a share, a year earlier. Revenues for the three months were $274.5 million, down $1 million.