Why did you go down the franchise route? And why did you choose TaxAssist Accountants?
It had always been my dream to start my own business. I had tried many things to start a business and very soon realised that I couldn’t do it alone. I needed a team to help me along, with a well proven and successful idea, a marketing plan and so on - the list was exhaustive and time was short. Then I came across TaxAssist – a solution for all of my concerns.
The reason I chose TaxAssist was their transparency and initial support. The main thing I liked was the freedom of choice given to me on the discovery day. I was presented with all the facts and figures, pros and cons and was left to make my own decision – no hard sell. I was given a list of existing franchisees to contact, to find out more about their experience and got 100% satisfactory feedback. This was the level of support and the network I was searching for, and I made my mind up in 5 days after the first click on the TaxAssist web page.
What did you do before taking up the franchise?
I had no experience of running my own business as I had always worked as an employee. I worked for a bank in Pakistan for 4 years before moving to the UK. I worked for Dixons Retail Group for 6 years as a sales person before joining the TaxAssist Network. I got my first Degree in English Literature from Pakistan and my second Degree in Accounting & Finance from Kingston University in 2008. After my degree in Accounting, I worked for a couple of other companies as an Accounts Assistant.
How did you raise the finance?
After looking at my business plan, I realised I required nearly £51,000 to start the franchise. I managed to borrow £30,000 from family and friends, and I borrowed another £25,000 from HSBC. I personally believe, if you are determined, and you have a commitment to achieve your goals, then the resources you need will come to you.
What training and support did you receive initially and ongoing?
I had a little knowledge of accounts and had worked in a bank, but I had not run a business before. I got 6 weeks’ extensive training from TaxAssist, which equipped me with all the necessary tools and my sales background helped me in closing down a sale. Now I am keeping myself up-to-date with the bi-annual technical updates, TaxTV and some other TaxAssist training days, but I mainly concentrate on my business and personal development.
What is a typical day for you as a franchisee?
I leave my home at 8am every morning for the half an hour drive to my office. I host a staff meeting at 8:50 and go through our day-schedule and any other matters. I check my emails and respond accordingly. Then I do some work on marketing, either on existing plans or making a plan for future campaigns, a bit of social media activities and other internal management work. I also check my assignment system for all team members to see if something urgent is coming up.
All of my staff are trained to take client appointments and handle new sign ups, but I also make myself available throughout the day if they have any questions. When I first started the business I was more involved with direct client meetings, but now I just take meetings occasionally and spend more time on business development and self growth. At 5.30 all of the team meet again for a quick end of the day discussion.
What challenges have you faced?
Entrepreneurship is full of challenges and excitement. The main challenge I faced initially was managing my business and my staff. I received full support from TaxAssist not only on the technical side but also on the business development.
Has becoming a franchisee changed your life, if so how?
Becoming a TaxAssist Franchisee has changed my life in many ways. I am not only financially well off, with a better lifestyle, but also now have a purpose in my life. I am having a more active life and have a real sense of achievement.
What marketing/promotional tools do you use to grow your franchise?
The main marketing tools include the brand itself, my shopfront, online presence, daily website blogs and monthly newsletters. All of them are built into the TaxAssist model which leaves me very little to do. I simply follow the TaxAssist Marketing toolkit, along with some regular posts to social media. I am planning to run a local blogging website in the near future.
What differentiates your franchise from the competition?
Personalised and tailored services for clients differentiates my practice from competitors. The key factor is listening to clients. When they come to you, mostly they are confused and come with a problem which they cannot sort out themselves, so listening to them carefully and providing the right solutions for their needs is key for me, to winning and retaining them. I do not compromise on quality of service which clients are happy to pay for. Secondly, I am blessed with a strong and passionate team who are dedicated to helping my clients.
In your opinion, what makes a successful franchisee?
In order to become a successful franchisee, first of all you need to trust the TaxAssist Model. The beauty of the TaxAssist Model is you do not have to do anything but follow the step by step guidance and the model itself. I would recommend not trying your own ways of doing things, just follow tried and tested rules and you will succeed.
Secondly, you need to develop yourself by investing time and money on your personal growth. Learning self-management is more important than learning business management because as a small firm you are the business.
Last but not least is the Team. All successful people have not achieved success alone. If you build your team on motivated, self-disciplined and passionate staff then you are well on your way to success. Do not hesitate to invest in staff welfare and training.
What advice would you give to someone thinking of buying their first franchise?
We are all great dreamers but great assassins at the same time. We kill our dreams and we do it more regularly than we're willing to admit. The house we were going to build or buy but never did. The dream trip we were going to take but never did. The business we were going to start but never started. The entrepreneurial life is meant to be an enabler of dreams. So if you have dreamt of being an entrepreneur, do not think too much, just act now.
What are your plans for the future?
After the successful establishment of my first shop, I am planning to expand my existing territory and open two more outlets. I am also planning to invest in new territories around the area by opening more shops within three years.
Would you do it again?
Starting my own venture is the most exciting thing in my life and I would do it again if I needed to.