What made you decide to join TaxAssist Accountants?

I qualified as a Chartered Accountant with Ernst & 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 small businesses 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 Accountants. 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 small businesses.

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 have you found 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 likeminded people who I got to know and develop a friendship with, 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 Accountants 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.

What have been the highlights of being a TaxAssist Accountants' 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?

I moved into a Wolverhampton, when I purchased my neighbour's business when he was looking to retire.  This acquisition gave me the opportunity to develop the team working with me and used the skills I had gained over many years in business.  During the acquisition the TaxAssist Support Team were always on hand to bounce ideas off and to sense check the approach being adopted to ensure fairness on both sides.

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 Accountants?

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 Accountants 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 continue to develop the business and would look at more shops in the future but the timing and location of each shop must be right.  We are building an asset for the future while helping to develop the next generation of owners.

How has your business fared through the COVID-19 pandemic, and what are your thoughts on future demand for your services?

The business performance during COVID has demonstrated the strength of the brand and business model.

In addition, at no point did we have to decide whether to put any member of our team on Furlough, in fact we recruited during the period as demand for our services grew. This was not as a result of additional work undertaken, and charged for, advising clients on COVID related grants etc, as we took the strategic view not to charge clients for this work. We took the view that our relationship with clients would strengthen because of this approach. We need to be there for our clients during the bad times, not just the good, demonstrating our partnership approach to client relationships.

New client enquiries and sign-ups, as well as the high retention rate, has meant our Fee Bank has achieved records levels – this continues to grow. This year 58% of our new clients, by number, and 72% by value, have arisen due to referral and recommendations from existing clients and contacts.

Year on year for the first quarter of 2021/22 shows our turnover is up 26% and profit before tax up 51%. In terms of future demand, we can only see this increasing as more and more clients want to get their “tax right” and value more proactive advice and guidance particularly as we are heading towards MTD for Income Tax.

TaxAssist Financial Services was launched in 2022. What part does it play in your practice?

I've already referred a number of clients over to the team in Norwich. 

TaxAssist Financial Services gives me and my team additional comfort and confidence that we can tackle almost anything and we’re becoming more and more like a one-stop-shop. Clearly, we can’t talk about the specifics of investment or whether they are right for the client, but we can certainly talk about the tax benefits, particularly for Limited Companies and higher rate taxpayers with pension contributions and with relevant life policies. Introducing a colleague from the Financial Services Team is a great offering for us as TaxAssist.

My perception is that clients think about us even more positively. So rather than us just being a small accountancy practice that looks after small businesses, we can offer a lot more, with even more value for money propositions.

I’ll definitely use the service on an ongoing basis. Feedback and communication with the team has been excellent and really easy, it’s as if they’re in the office next door. It’s great.

December 2022