What did you do before taking up the franchise?

I had worked in various sectors before I joined TaxAssist and my employment immediately prior to becoming a franchisee was a bit fractured! My last long-term role (10 years +) was as Director of Finance within a Housing Association. However, following a merger, I was offered and accepted a Voluntary Redundancy package from this post. I accepted some short-term contracts prior to deciding what my future career path would be and immediately prior to joining TaxAssist I was employed in a permanent position of Practice Manager in a mid-tier legal firm in Belfast. 

How did you find the sign-up process and initial training course?

Working through the process with the Support Centre staff, the experience and knowledge that existed within the organisation was obvious. The professionalism on show from attending the Discovery Day forward was evident. 

Given that I was travelling to and from Northern Ireland other considerations, such as accessing computers to complete “homework assignments” and shipping course materials back following training was handled without fuss by all staff and everything went relatively smoothly.

What attracted you to joining TaxAssist Accountants and purchasing an existing practice?

I looked at a number of franchises in different industries, as well as various brands within the accountancy sector prior to deciding to take my interest forward with TaxAssist. The professionalism, standing within the Franchise Community (awards won and nominated for) as well as the openness shown during my due diligence process was very welcome and ultimately helped me make the decision to join TaxAssist.

Having made this decision, the next matter to be considered was if I should / could set up a new practice, or should I consider purchasing an existing franchise. There were no existing franchises for sale following my Discovery Day and having given the matter consideration, we as a family did not feel it was appropriate for me to begin a new practice. However, within a matter of months, the opportunity of a local resale arose and I began to carry out my due diligence in relation to the resale purchase.

What is a typical day for you as a franchisee?

I don’t think there will ever be a typical day, other than meeting clients and prospects, dealing with queries and, when I have the chance, to prepare some accounts!

I try to build in some hours each day (typically after the office closes) where I know I will not be disturbed to allow me to work uninterrupted. This is probably the only thing that recurs.

How does being a part of TaxAssist Accountants benefit your practice?

When considering my future following accepting redundancy, working for myself was at the top of my list and given my background and training, accountancy was the obvious route. However, the thought of setting up as an independent practice was quite daunting. Having the support of an organisation / technical team was attractive and has proven to be beneficial during my time as a franchisee.

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

Before becoming a franchisee, I had expected that there would be a lot of work involved, I just hadn’t realised the number of hours that I would need to put in. Therefore, I have to be careful in managing my work / life balance and ensure that I have uninterrupted time with my family. Having said that, we had anticipated that the first couple of years would be like this and that benefits would occur in future years.

How many clients did you buy initially and what are your figures now?

I took on a client base of approximately 260 clients and currently have approximately 425 clients – so a net growth of 165 or so over the period I have been a franchisee, with an average annual 10% growth in fees over the past four years. The growth is in line with the manageable growth figures that I had used in my business plan at the outset, and I am content, at the moment, with an average growth of 2 or 3 clients per month. While we receive inbound leads from the Support Centre, we are finding that we have an increasing number of referrals which are being converted, which we are pleased about.

What are your plans for the future?

During my time within the network, and having had conversations with other franchisees, I recognise the benefit of operating from shop fronts as this by itself does encourage “walk-in” enquiries and subsequent conversion to signed up clients. We took the decision to open a second office in 2019 and opened just a few months before the first Covid-19 lockdowns. The lockdowns did affect the speed of growth in the second office and while client numbers are growing, we still have a way to go before it is self-sufficient. I will be working to drive growth for this office in future months.

We are currently beginning a recruitment process for at least one new staff member to support both existing clients and ensure adequate resources are in place to support new clients.

Would you do it again?

The answer is yes.  I don’t think anyone could have foreseen the level of hard work that would be required in running/managing a continually growing practice, however this would not put me off. I enjoy being my own boss and I do not want to consider being an employee again. 

July 2022

Contact Us