Award winning franchise was perfect opportunity for Belfast Finance Director
Franchisee name: Andrew Bassett
Franchise: TaxAssist Accountants
What did you do before buying a TaxAssist Accountants franchise?
I had worked in various sectors before I joined TaxAssist and my employment immediately prior to becoming a franchisee was a bit fractured! My last long-term role (10 years +) was as Director of Finance within a Housing Association. However, following a merger, I was offered and accepted a Voluntary Redundancy package from this post. I accepted some short-term contracts prior to deciding what my future career path would be and immediately prior to joining TaxAssist I was employed in a permanent position of Practice Manager in a mid-tier legal firm in Belfast.
How did you find the sign-up process and initial training course?
Working through the process with Head Office staff the experience and knowledge that existed within the organisation was obvious. The professionalism on show from attending the Discovery Day forward was evident.
Given that I was travelling to and from Northern Ireland other considerations, such as accessing computers to complete “homework assignments” and shipping course materials back following training was handled without fuss by all staff and everything went relatively smoothly.
What attracted you to joining TaxAssist Accountants and purchasing an existing practice?
I looked at a number of franchises in different industries, as well as various organisations within the accountancy sector prior to deciding to take my interest forward with TaxAssist. The professionalism, standing within the Franchise Community (awards won and nominated for) as well as the openness shown during my due diligence process was very welcome and ultimately helped me make the decision to join TaxAssist.
Having made this decision, the next matter to be considered was if I should / could set up a new practice, or should I consider purchasing an existing franchise. After attending the Discovery Day and giving the matter consideration, we as a family did not feel it was appropriate for me to begin a new practice and no resales were available at that time. However, within a matter of months, the opportunity of a local resale arose and I began to carry out my due diligence in relation to the resale purchase.
What is a typical day for you as a TaxAssist franchisee?
I don’t think there will ever be a typical day, other than meeting clients and prospects, dealing with queries and, when I have the chance, to prepare some accounts!
I try to build in some hours each day (typically after the office closes) where I know I will not be disturbed to allow me to work uninterrupted. This is probably the only thing that recurs.
How does being a part of TaxAssist Accountants benefit your practice?
When considering my future following accepting redundancy, working for myself was at the top of my list and given my background and training, accountancy was the obvious route. However, the thought of setting up as an independent practice was quite daunting. Having the support of an organisation / technical team was attractive and has proven to be beneficial during my time as a franchisee.
Has becoming a franchisee changed your life, if so how?
Before becoming a franchisee, I had expected that there would be a lot of work involved. I just hadn’t realised the number of hours that I would need to put in. Therefore, I have to be careful in managing my work / life balance and ensure that I have uninterrupted time with my family. Having said that, we had anticipated that the first couple of years would be like this and that benefits would occur in future years.
How many clients did you buy initially and what are your figures now?
I took on a client base of approximately 260 clients and on the most recent MIN form submitted, client numbers were just over 300 – so a net growth of 40 or so over the 15 months I have been franchisee. The growth is in line with the manageable growth figures that I had used in my business plan at the outset and I am content, at the moment, with an average growth of 2 or 3 clients per month with little to no marketing / advertising etc.
What are your plans for the future?
I always felt that the franchise area that I had bought would support 3 offices, each capturing business on a different arterial route into Belfast. I discussed the potential areas with the Franchise Development Manager during a development visit and he agreed with my thoughts and the areas that I had highlighted. Now all I need to do is to find the right properties!
Having now been a franchisee for 15 months I can see how the different aspects of the TaxAssist model work and can see that having a visible shop front helps increase client numbers etc. It is very much a “build it and they will come” scenario. So, the plan in the short term is to open a second office.
Would you do it again?
The answer is yes. I don’t think anyone could have foreseen the number of hours that would be worked in the initial period following purchase of an existing practice, however this would not put me off. I enjoy being my own boss and I do not want to think of having to work for someone else again.