TaxAssist Accountants: Accounting for 10 years of Franchise Success

This year TaxAssist Accountants celebrates its 10-year anniversary. Having kept to its vision of servicing the needs of small businesses across the country, the network of over 150 franchisees has a number of landmark achievements to shout about. Neil Mason from TaxAssist Accountants reports

Not only can the TaxAssist Accountants network celebrate a whole decade as a successful franchisor, the franchisees are themselves achieving faster and greater successes year-on-year. The icing on the birthday cake is the recent opening of the network's 40th shopfront.

When TaxAssist Accountants started franchising in 1996 it was looking for people to work from home and develop a client base comprising self-employed individuals and small businesses. The demand for the core services of accountancy and taxation, including self-assessment tax returns, really took off and TaxAssist Accountants had to look at new ways of accommodating potential business levels.

The natural step was to recruit new franchisees to work from commercial offices, and look to migrate the existing network across over a period of time. This gave franchisees the opportunity to expand their businesses by taking on staff. With such an infrastructure in place, the franchisees were then able to focus on working on the business rather than in it. Through analysis of performance figures, TaxAssist Accountants saw that office-based franchisees' businesses grew at two-and-a-half times the rate of those operating their businesses from home.

As the business continued to evolve, an exciting development was the introduction of the TaxAssist shopfront. When the first one opened in Norwich in 2002, the main intentions were to create a modern, welcoming, branded office with the aim of departing from the look and characteristics of traditional accountancy practices. Not only have the shopfronts led to increased credibility with banks and other sources of business referrals, but client walk-in rates have been more than impressive.

As the network gained higher levels of exposure across a broader range of clients, the franchisor enhanced the franchise package to include expert training from BPP Professional Education. To complement the initial training programme, a fully integrated software suite was also introduced into the network: CCH, an accounts and practice management tool that is now proving to be an integral part of franchisees' businesses as it offers the chance to provide value-added services to all kinds of clients. In addition to this, a Nurture Programme was introduced to give even more support in the early part of the franchise development because we know that a successful business needs a good customer base.

While the franchise offering has evolved, so the potential client base has grown. Recent figures from the Office of National Statistics show that there are around 4.5 million trading entities across the United Kingdom, and the good news for TaxAssist Accountants is that nearly 99 per cent of them fall into the 'potential client' category.

So, with a support structure that is always keeping the network up to date, and a massive and growing market, new franchisees have the confidence and back-up to grow at faster rates each year. Some recent success stories include a South West operation that opened in December 2005. The franchisee joined TaxAssist Accountants from a corporate background and decided to go straight into a shopfront. Within six months she has built up to more than 90 clients and is attracting more and more business through local marketing and phenomenal walk-in trade. Another tremendous start has been made by a Home Counties franchisee who has built a fee bank of £80,000, along with a North Yorkshire franchisee with fees of £68,000 and a North West franchisee with fees of £63,000 all in their first 12 months of operation. Neither of the latter franchisees have professional accounting qualifications - they have simply followed the franchisor's guidance and made the business model work for them. Their rewards are not just high levels of cash-flow, because they are also building a tangible re-sale asset as they build their businesses.

TaxAssist Accountants is keen to complete its coverage across the UK. If you want to join in its success, are ambitious with previous experience in finance/banking/accountancy, we want to hear from you.