Case Study: Ian Aiken

Franchisee in Ballymena and Antrim, Northern Ireland

Date launched the franchise: December 2012

Tell us a bit about yourself and what you were doing prior to buying a franchise business?

Having qualified as a chartered Management Accountant, I had worked in industry at Finance director level for a number of years, in sectors such as property, garments, fabric and food & drink.

Why did you go down the franchise route? And why did you choose your franchise?

Buying into a franchise normally means you are following an established successful pattern. TaxAssist Accountants suited my background and experience. They were the most professional franchise I looked at in the accounting sector.

How did you raise the finance?

From my own resources.

What training and support did you receive initially and ongoing?

I benefited from an excellent six-week initial training course, and ongoing training and support. This was particularly useful through the first year.

What is a typical day for you as a franchisee?

I arrive in my shop at 8am, check social media posts to see if there is anything interesting to take on board, to comment on or share, while making the first coffee of the day. I check my email for anything urgent and then carry on with existing work for clients. This can be anything from completing a tax return, to a set of limited company accounts, to a business plan for expansion or to buy a business. I may have appointments with existing or potential new clients. I could also be visiting my business clients at their premises.

What challenges have you faced?

Getting myself known has been the main challenge to grow the business. I gain a lot of business as referrals from existing clients. I also gain business from trading from a shop front. Again the franchise taught me what to look for in a shop front location.

Has becoming a franchisee changed your life, if so how?

I enjoy being my own boss. I work just as hard as I ever did, but it is nice being in charge of your own destiny. I get a lot of enjoyment out of seeing my business clients grow and prosper.

What is the most invaluable piece of advice you could give someone looking to buy their first franchise?

Talk to existing franchisees for their feedback. Make sure you are committed to growing your own business, because you will be putting in long hours at the start, possibly for little initial financial reward. Make sure you are adequately financed for this.

In your opinion, what makes a successful franchisee?

I would say hard work, enthusiasm for what you do and make sure you have a good franchisor behind you.

What are your plans for the future?

I want to continue to grow the business and enjoy giving my clients an excellent service.

Would you do it again?

Yes!

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