I am a qualified Chartered Accountant with over 10 years PQE. Prior to joining TaxAssist Accountants I was a senior manager with PriceWaterhouseCoopers. Before that I trained with a small practice based in Cork.
I joined TaxAssist Accountants in December 2009 and opened for business in Cork city in April 2010. The growth of my business has been in line with my expectations and business plan. Year-on-year my practice continues to grow and the number and quality of leads being generated is increasing steadily. Part of this I put down to the shop front as it provides a highly visible shopfront in a prominent location.
Active sales and marketing have been the key to my sales growth and not just in one specific area. I have tried a number of different approaches including off the page, cold calling, radio, Google, Facebook, networking amongst others. I currently employ four people and aim to recruit more staff. One of the biggest challenges at the moment is getting the right mix of time spent doing work verses generating work.
I have had great support from the Support Centre, who are always on hand to answer any queries I have or to bounce ideas off of, whether these are technical or general practice management queries. The biggest help though has been in the sales and marketing area, as like most other accountants marketing would not previously have been my strong point. Being part of TaxAssist Accountants has given me access to excellent sales and marketing training, tried and tested campaigns and adverts and sales approaches that do work. I have a high conversion rate of leads and was delighted to receive the Franchisee of the Year award for 2014.
My advice to anyone considering the franchise option would be to talk to as many people as possible before you make your decision as the more information you have the better. Prepare a detailed business plan and review it regularly. You will be surprised how accurate your projections will eventually get as you gain year on year experience.
Update: An interview with Irish ‘Franchisee of the Year’ Clive Aherne
TaxAssist Accountants was established in Ireland in early 2009, with the first franchisees joining later that year. One of those franchisees was Clive Aherne, who has recently signed a new 10-year Franchise Agreement, after joining the franchise in December 2009 and opening his office in April 2010. Clive is the current TaxAssist Irish ‘Franchisee of the Year’. Here, Clive discusses why he made the decision to join the franchise, how the franchise is performing and what his plans are for the future.
Q. Clive, what was your background before joining TaxAssist?
Before joining TaxAssist I was a senior manager with PwC in their assurance department. I spent five years working with them in the Channel Islands and one in Ireland. Before joining PwC I trained and qualified as a chartered ac countant in small practice.
Q. What attracted you to the franchise?
The model initially... I always wanted to work for myself and was considering setting up a practice with sole focus on the SME sector. I also wanted to operate my business with better price transparency, as historically the SME sector got poor service and were charged high fees.
I read an article in one of the Sunday business newspapers and started my research in to TaxAssist before arranging a meeting. On investigation there were additional advantages to joining TaxAssist, not only the model. I also liked the sales and marketing assistance and training as everyone knows accountants are not known for these! Also starting a business on your own can be scary and the benefit of being part of TaxAssist is that you have a network of people who have ‘been there and done that’ and you can use this experience, as well as having a sounding board for ideas and issues.
Coming from a ‘Big Four’ background, this was also important as I was used to having technical help and guidance on hand when needed.
Q. How has the business performed for you?
Like any new business it takes a while to develop, but mine developed in-line with the expected trend for a franchisee, which is faster than if I set up alone. The first few years are challenging as you develop a client list, take on staff and manage the cash flow of the business. I prepared a realistic business plan and updated this regularly.
Performance over the last two years has been strong and I expect this to be better in 2015. So far this year my turnover is up 25% to the end of July and I expect this trend to continue if not to improve between now and the year-end.
Q. What have been the highlights of running a TaxAssist franchise?
- Opening my office on 26th April 2010 in the same month my first child was born... a very productive month!
- Getting to the first 100 clients!
- Getting my first wage!
- Employing staff – every time I hire someone – there are now five of us!
- Winning ‘Franchisee of the Year’ and also running three marathons in the same year!
Q. What would your advice be to anyone considering taking on a TaxAssist franchise?
I would highly recommend that you do your own research, talk to as many people as possible before you make your decision and meet with the Master Franchisee a few times to get to know them and ensure you can work together.
Prepare a realistic business plan and be prudent about cash flow and, most importantly, give it time to develop and use the systems that are available.
Q. What are your plans for the future?
In a nutshell, increase fee income to €1m in the next five years, which will mean more staff, a bigger office and constant work on the systems we use. Also to qualify for the Boston Marathon!