Phil Marriott joined TaxAssist Accountants in December 2002, having bought an existing fee bank from a franchisee. He left the franchise in August 2017 and was keen to share his thoughts on his successful 15 years as a TaxAssist Accountant.
"My experiences gained in banking, insurance and finance, coupled with the knowledge gained in setting up and running a group of limited companies with some fellow directors, gave me some preparation for running an accountancy / business advisory practice… but I wanted the comfort of a 'hand held' approach and some solid back-up support.
The obvious integrity, willingness and openness of all the team at TaxAssist Accountants struck me right from the outset, such that the decision was much easier to make. As the TaxAssist network has grown, the directors and Support Centre have never lost that 'personal touch'. This made being a franchisee more enjoyable and the franchisor relationship was not remote in any way.
Looking back, the first year was an exceptionally demanding one and much of the cashflow was reinvested to develop the potential of my practice. I had originally planned to move into shop front premises some time after three years.
After just two years, the ideal shop front became available and I needed to make the commercial decision and investment much sooner, eventually moving in March 2005. Despite my reservations over the cost and disruption the overriding outcome was excellent. My net fee income, client growth, profitability and cash flow all benefited dramatically, improving month on month.
In December 2007 I acquired the freehold of a former bank in Loughborough. It is at least three times the size of the previous shop front, and provided substantial scope for further growth. The quality and average fee size of new business enquiries improved. The fact I was confident enough to buy, and that my bank were so keen to support me, is continuing testament to the strength of the business model.
As the business grew and the profitability improved, I began to consider the longer term. One of the directors of TaxAssist Accountants provided me with considerable help to put together a plan to bring in an equity partner. In November 2011, Carl Whitehead (then an existing member of staff) became a director of the business.
Since that date, a phased transfer of the equity was agreed and Carl became a party to the existing franchise agreement in 2012. This took away any uncertainty that could have prevailed and gave the business a clear structure over the medium term.
With two equity partners 'at the helm', the business enjoyed renewed enthusiasm. This was evidenced by our decision to push ahead with a second territory in neighbouring Nottinghamshire/Derbyshire.
The Long Eaton shop front opened in late May 2013. It provided an excellent opportunity for further growth and provided greater flexibility when my own exit needed to be considered. Not many small businesses enjoy such confidence during a downturn!
The TaxAssist Accountants' brand is excellent and allowed me to portray a 'big' practice feel but with a 'smaller' practice price structure – a real winner with the clients! Ongoing training was excellent and I have to say that TaxAssist Accountants had their support structure with franchisees just right – there when you need them but leaving you to run and develop your business when you don’t!
I cannot stress enough how thoroughly rewarding and enjoyable these last 15 years have been.
I started in a 14-foot square room in someone else’s office with nowhere for clients to sit or be seen! The business now runs from two prestigious shop front town centre shops, servicing a substantial number of clients. The strength of the business has enabled me to purchase the freehold to those shops through pension arrangements which has helped secure my future.
I have been immensely proud to be part of the TaxAssist Accountants success story over the years. I was one of the first 20 franchisees to open in shop front premises. I worked in the group that helped select the practice software the whole network use today. It was great to play a sizeable part in the unique FaMBO (Franchisee Assisted Management Buyout) and to know that the investment has grown in value. Another highlight was achieving Accountant of the Year at the annual conference!
In addition to the excellent financial rewards, there is the pleasure of running a successful franchise. I have enjoyed some fabulous business relationships and developed a real sense of being a part of the business community.
My chosen exit route of appointing a business partner has been a great experience too. I have been able to see Carl grow in confidence and to take comfort from the knowledge that the business will be in great hands. We have worked closely together to push the business onto greater levels of success. The financial rewards of this style of exit have been very welcome too.
Finally, I cannot conclude without thanking the directors of the franchise and all the staff at the
Support Centre. It may sound like a very worn cliché to say it seems like a big team but that is my genuine view. The directors give tremendous encouragement and help to their franchisees which is reflected in the excellent satisfaction survey results. It is great to know so many of the support centre staff so well and I will miss them.
So thank you – everyone at TaxAssist – for a wonderful 15 years! I would do it all again. With very best wishes to all for the future."