TaxAssist Accountants

TaxAssist Accountants has upgraded its launch support to provide a bigger head start for new franchisees. Stuart Anderson reports

Hot on the heels of the recent rebranding exercise that saw TaxAssist Direct become TaxAssist Accountants, the white collar tax and accountancy franchise has announced a major upgrade to its franchise package.

'We've added four key elements to the support we provide new franchisees,' reveals Franchise Recruitment Manager Neil Mason. 'These elements add a great deal of value to the franchise package, especially keeping in mind that we have not increased the investment requirement. The costs of this additional support are completely underwritten by the current initial investment figure.'

The first newly introduced key element that will benefit new-launch franchisees is the Business Acceleration Programme (BAP), which encompasses five consecutive days of the six week initial training course. 'The BAP involves collating best practice from the network on business development activities, then using our training facility to add a little bit of science to the theory,' explains Neil. 'This includes identifying which networking opportunities work best, how to develop a structured referral mechanism, and techniques that can increase the returns on mailshots. We work with franchisees during the course to decide on the right business development activity for their territories, then monitor their success.

For instance, if we notice that a new franchisee is attending a good number of appointments but not signing up at the rate we expect, we will help them to increase their conversion rate.'

The BAP lasts six months, after which TaxAssist Accountants measures each franchisee's progress against their agreed business development plan. 'It's a more robust hand-holding from the end of the training, designed to allow the franchisee to build the business at an aspirational rate,' adds Neil. 'We're collating data at the moment to be able to roll out for our October training course. From thereafter it will be a standard part of the package.'

For quite some time TaxAssist Accountants' Support Centre has operated a lead generation service to provide franchisees with a facility to source new business. Generated by a dedicated team of cold callers, the leads secure appointments for franchisees with local sub-million pound turnover business owners - the niche market of TaxAssist Accountants. 'The second of our four key elements added to the franchise package is free use of this service to provide 25 leads,' Neil reveals. 'This translates into £1,250 worth of added value that we are not charging for, which provides a kickstart for newly launched franchisees while they build their business through their own networking and business development activities.'

The third key element involves assisting these network and business development activities through funding, where possible, the franchisee's first year subscription to a networking group.

'The groups we support are Business Network Int'l and Business Referral Exchange,' adds Neil. 'These groups allow only one representative from each industry sector, so if the franchisee's local group has a vacancy, we will fund their first year of membership.

'These organisations provide direct access to exactly the right business community. They are opportunities for franchisees to meet with people in the SME market who could benefit from our service, and have clients who may also benefit. This element aims to establish the franchisee's presence in the business community and is worth about £400.'

The final element of the package upgrade is the provision of a valuable software package called CCH Business Focus.

'This software provides up-to-date business and technical news, data and information on individual business sectors,' Neil relates. 'It enables the franchisee to tailor their marketing activity to exactly suit their clients' requirements. For example, if the support centre is pumping out technical updates suitable to the hairdressing industry, the franchisee can use CCH Business Focus to target that specific sector and get the right information in front of the right potential client at the right time.'

TaxAssist Accountants is approaching 200 branches nationwide, with 22 shop-front branded offices established and 20 more preparing to open. 'The franchise package upgrade has been specifically designed to provide franchisees with an activity planner that leads them to achieving their growth goals and establishing a shop-front branded office,' Neil reflects. 'Once franchisees are in a shop-front branded office they will benefit from a free-of-charge HR and recruitment package which safeguards franchisees with regard to employment legislation.

We also supply free software training for staff members, defer management service fees while they get off the ground and have a dedicated Franchise Development Manager looking after the exclusive needs of shop-front branded offices.

'The fact that we're adding these features with no increase to the franchise fee shows that we are sensitive to our franchisees' cash flow needs in the early days and we, as a franchisor, want our franchisees to be successful, which has a knock-on effect for the complete network.'