Karl Sandall, Group Chief Executive Director of TaxAssist Accountants offers his take on a highly successful 2018 for the leading tax and accountancy franchise.
Karl oversees the UK franchise network of over 200 franchises, who look after 70,000 clients with a collective fee bank of £46 million, as well as a growing network in the Republic of Ireland and Australia.
This year, cloud-based technology, Making Tax Digital and advisory services have dominated the thoughts and actions of the accountancy world. As a dedicated franchisor, we have invested a huge amount of time and resource to research, evaluate, recommended and train the network on new software and innovations that we believe will be of benefit to franchisees and their clients.
We have rolled out a new, comprehensive software estate, which includes TaxCalc, Practice Ignition and Receipt Bank. The purpose of this was to ensure we had an up to date, scalable and suitable software estate which was fit for the future, enabling us to reduce the duplication of data entry and streamline data entry processes. Going forward, the software ensures we can offer a market-leading service to our franchisees and their clients.
We also launched two new insourced services for our network – payroll and tax. With pricing proving to be a significant barrier to delivering tax advice, providing this service will mean we can reduce delivery costs and provide better value for our clients and franchisees. There aren’t just benefits for existing clients – tax and payroll services are highly marketable for our network.
National TV Advertising
2018 saw us launch the first national television advertising campaign for TaxAssist Accountants, showcasing our brand and the locations available to small business across the entire UK. We also believe this is the first time an accounting firm has advertised on TV across national channels in the UK, so a first for the industry. This level of coverage for our brand has meant lead generation for our franchisees remains strong, with us due to hit more than 9000 qualified leads in December which is another record broken.
2018 saw the awarding of the remaining Master Franchise license for Australia, with Steve Herlihy and Tricia Kingston opening their flagship shop in central Perth while also starting to promote the franchise opportunity. Terry Murphy & Celeste Godwin continued their success on the East Coast of Australia, with five new franchisees recruited so far this year. The Republic of Ireland continues to perform exceptionally well. In the last 12 months we have seen double-digit sales, client and fee bank growth. This year, we met with parties interested in developing TaxAssist in Canada and the USA. A lot of careful planning and market research has gone in the US and Canadian markets, and we believe the opportunity for the TaxAssist Accountants brand is significant.
Support Centre Expansion
To cater for the expansion of services and our international growth, the Norwich-based Support Centre has doubled in size to 10,000 square foot. We chose to move our Support Centre to Broadland Business Park with an eye on expanding when the need arose, and with the many exciting UK and global developments ahead for the TaxAssist network, the time was right as we continue to grow our existing team of 45 highly-experienced staff.
We were proud to be named, once again this year, as finalists for the British Franchise Association (bfa) Franchisor of the Year. I would also like to congratulate my colleague David Paulson, Global Recruitment Manager, who has successfully been elected onto the bfa Board of Directors. A position of much standing and influence. We also received 5-Star Franchisee Satisfaction, following an independent franchisee survey, for the 6th year in a row, one of only four franchises that can say this. Our network performance remains strong and we are currently 22nd in the highly regarded Accountancy Age Top 50+50 industry league table.
We’ve seen some real franchisee success stories in 2018, with the second million-pound TaxAssist practice sale in Central London being a highlight. We’ve had many shop launches this year, all over the UK, and seen Keith Loader in Northampton celebrate 20 years with us. Eight franchises also celebrated 15 years with us. We saw excellent numbers of people visiting our Support Centre for Discovery Days, and 19 new franchisees joined us in 2018 – 14 new, 3 resale and 2 new partners.
TaxAssist Accountants continues to be a real success story and I’m so pleased to have supported hundreds of franchisees to grow substantial practices and gain financial independence, creating hundreds of jobs as a result.