Franchisee in Kingswinsford, Halesowen and Wolverhampton, West Midlands
What made you decide to join TaxAssist?
I qualified as a chartered accountant with Ernst and Young in 1990 working primarily within their small business team. As well as gaining valuable experience in practice post-qualification, I subsequently spent more than 20 years in industry working in a number of SMEs across a variety of industry sectors.
One of these sectors was franchising with ChipsAway where I joined as finance director in 2006. I became chief executive in 2007 leading them through the acquisition of IPR, from the American originator, and the subsequent sale to a plc. I was involved in a later buyout which saw the business (along with other franchise brands) being bought into private hands.
In 2012 I moved on following a wish to build a business of my own where I had the majority stake. I was looking for something where I could use my skills and experience gained over many years. I knew the benefits of being involved with a quality franchise so I turned to that sector for my inspiration.
I looked at a variety of businesses within franchising but none of them gave me that spark, until I looked at TaxAssist! I felt I could use my experience gained from working within a professional accountancy practice, and I very much enjoyed the buzz associated with helping small businesses. Additionally, I felt I could provide added value to my clients through my experience of being involved with, and running, SMEs.
In addition, I knew of the high reputation of the management team, the strength of the brand and business model. This was supported by many awards, gained from both within and outside the franchise industry. I carried out a high level of initial research before committing to a discovery day.
After meeting the team on that day I was convinced this was the right opportunity for me – that’s where the excitement and hard work really started!
How is the training and support?
The initial six-week training course was intense and helped prepare me for a life back in the accountancy practice world. I also met other like-minded people who I got to know and develop a friendship which still continues.
The initial course was as much about getting to know, and build relationships with, the support team in Norwich as it was about the technical and practical aspects of owning and operating a TaxAssist franchise.
Ongoing technical training courses are available across a variety of topics, which help to ensure technical knowledge is enhanced. This is supported by a technical helpdesk.
Marketing support has been excellent with practical guidance being available at the end of a telephone. They were particularly helpful when we were setting up the shop – first class! Since then we have picked their brains a number of times for marketing ideas and guidance.
Karl, Phil and Sarah have been particularly helpful - extremely supportive and genuine people with high levels of integrity!
What have been the highlights of being a TaxAssist Franchisee?
Working for myself with the challenges, flexibility and excitement that brings.
Being part of a team which includes our shop team, fellow franchisees and the support team in Norwich
How are things going? Have you learnt from any mistakes?
After training I moved into serviced offices, when it quickly became apparent that I needed some administration support. Sarah joined me in February 2012 initially on a part-time basis (two days per week) to provide that support. Sarah is now full-time and progressing very well through her bookkeeping exams, which I am part funding.
We moved into a shop in September 2013 and have not looked back since, another part-time employee will be joining us shortly. In October 2015 I expanded my business further by moving into a second area, Wolverhampton.
Financial and personal targets are being met; however Rome wasn't built in a day, patient growth is far better and will provide a stronger business going forward!
There is much hard work ahead for anyone staring in business and just because you join a franchise that does not mean it is any easier, however you do not have to re-invent the wheel, and you are part of a team!
What would your advice be to anyone looking to join TaxAssist?
If you have a desire to work for yourself and have an interest in small business then look no further. Ensure you carry out research about your target area and visit/speak with existing franchisees to pick their brains. During this process you should find out whether this is the business for you. Just because TaxAssist is a good business doesn’t make it the right business for everyone!
What are your development and growth plans for the future?
We aim to have a multi-shop franchise but the timing and location of each shop must be right. We are building an asset for the future and with my daughter showing an interest in accountancy, who knows she may be involved at some point – time will tell!