Shop-based accountancy company that undertakes accounts, tax and VAT returns, pay roll, bookkeeping, etc. for small businesses
Business & Professional Services, Financial Services, Master/Regional
£ 50,000 - £ 100,000
TaxAssist Accountants is a growing firm of shop-based accountancy experts who deal with the accountancy needs of small businesses, sole traders, partnerships and limited companies, and self- employed individuals with a turnover of up to £2m. Its services include producing accounts, tax returns, payroll, VAT, bookkeeping and company formation.
The company was set up based on the simple notion of bringing professional services to small businesses. The company aims to expand throughout the UK and internationally, creating a network of businesses that is mutually beneficial to all TaxAssist Accountants franchisees, as well as minimising the risks of other business start-ups.
Since the company recruited its first franchisee in 1996, the business has evolved, with a large percentage of the network now operating from shop-style premises, the first of which was opened in Norwich.
Originally known as TaxAssist Direct, it became TaxAssist Accountants in 2005, meaning that potential clients could more easily identify the company’s core services. A master franchise was issued for Ireland in 2009 and the company was listed in the Accountancy Age survey for the first time in 2010, as the country’s 34th largest accountancy firm.
TaxAssist Accountants opened its 150th shop in 2013 and was voted Accountancy Firm of the Year by the Association of International Accountants (AIA). By 2014 it was 25th in the Accountancy Age survey and has maintained its position at around 21st or 22nd for the past few years. The 200th shop opened in 2017.
Today the TaxAssist Accountants network of more than 200 franchise territories operates from over 300 shops and offices, providing services to 70,000 clients.
TaxAssist Accountants was founded in 1995 by John Westgarth FCA, a chartered accountant with a national firm who spotted a gap in the market at a time when the number of self-employed workers was growing. Westgarth began dealing with small businesses in Norwich, helping hundreds to complete their self-assessment tax forms. He soon realised that the demand for this kind of service would make an ideal franchise.
He was joined by operations director Karl Sandall in 2000, who went on to become group chief executive director in 2002. Sarah Robertson, with 30 years of experience in marketing and communication, helped develop the company’s marketing strategy over a period of 12 years before becoming group operations director in 2016.
When Westgarth announced his intention to retire in 2014, Sandall led a management buyout, thought to be the first franchise-assisted management buyout in the UK. More than half the franchisee network invested in the company and now own 32 per cent of TaxAssist Accountants.
TaxAssist Accountants states that it is a firm of the future in a sector that is undergoing fundamental changes thanks to technology, digitalisation, regulation and client expectations. While small companies struggle with the pace of change, this creates opportunities for those who are prepared to develop innovative, technology-led services.
The government’s drive to bring the tax system into the 21st Century by streamlining the service and making sure that businesses pay the correct amount of tax, through its
Making Tax Digital for Business initiative.
TaxAssist Accountants franchisees will benefit from the development of the right services to support small businesses through these changes. TaxAssist has developed training courses and software, such as TaxCalc, Practice Ignition and Receipt Bank and has partnered with Intuit QuickBooks to help make the management of accounts easy when new quarterly reporting comes into operation.
TaxAssist Accountants researches, evaluates and recommends the best software for its network and its clients, at the same time supporting franchisees with training and support in the latest technology, including cloud-based accounting software, which is revolutionising the way accountants interact with their clients.
The TaxAssist Accountants’ franchise business model is a straightforward one—to offer accounting, tax and advice to hundreds of small business clients with relatively uncomplicated accounts needs, while based in a visible, accessible and welcome shop front premises.
Traditionally, small businesses, subcontractors and the self-employed have been neglected by accountancy firms. With TaxAssist Accountants’ training and support, approaching these businesses will help build franchisees a first-class client base.
Franchisees will benefit from spending their time growing a sizeable, scalable and profitable accountancy practice, taking a proactive approach to developing the business, attracting new clients through marketing and leading a team of staff rather than performing accountancy duties.
TaxAssist Accountants franchises operate from shopfront locations — modern, branded, welcoming offices that look unlike any other accountancy practice. TaxAssist Accounts now has over 300 shop front offices around the UK which allows for walk-in business, but also benefits the franchise through its visibility within the business community, credibility and brand reinforcement.
The franchise fee is £36,950, and franchisees would require a working capital that depends on the size and location of the premises but is typically £50,000-100,000. There is a regular franchise fee of between 1 and 9 per cent, dependent on turnover.
Accountants who already have clients of their own but who still wish to buy a TaxAssist Accountants franchise, will be subject to a minimum fee of £5,000 and a first year management fee of 3 per cent. After the first year, the full management fees will be payable.
TaxAssist Accountants states that is has an excellent relationship with NatWest/RBS, HSBC and Lloyds, and these banks will all typically lend up to 70 per cent of the total investment required.
Even if you are coming from an accounting background, much of the training to take on a TaxAssist Accountant franchise is tailored to small businesses and may be new to you.
TaxAssist Accountants runs four courses a year in Norwich, Norfolk. Once a franchisee has done his due diligence, business plans and looked into raising finance, they will want to sign up for one of these courses at the earliest possible moment. The course runs for six weeks, with week four consisting of home study. All new franchisees are required to take an online aptitude test before joining the course and you may wish to attend the two-day bookkeeping course that TaxAssist Accountants offers ahead of the main course.
A TaxAssist Accountants franchisee will be given training in tax, accountancy and software, and will begin a Business Acceleration Programme in marketing, which takes up five days of the main course, but continues after the course for a further six months. During this time, TaxAssist Accountants works with the franchisee to help decide the right business development activities for their territory, keeping a close eye on conversion rates and any other problems that might arise.
The six-week course is followed by further training during the first year of the franchise, which takes in a range of practical skills, from business development to staff recruitment and management.
There is a bi-annual, cost-free Technical Update Day to keep franchisees up to speed with budget, tax and accountancy updates. Further courses are provided at Norwich and regionally to keep the network aware of technical and marketing developments.
Entering into a franchise agreement for an exclusive postcode territory requires a deposit of 10 per cent of the franchise fee. This is credited against the full cost should you be accepted into the franchise network.
TaxAssist Accountants is an authorised training employer for the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales and is authorised to train ICAEW chartered Accountants.
Franchisees are provided with update days, operations manuals, and have access to the TaxAssist Accountants support website where they will find online tutorials, advice, marketing and technical training materials, templates and practice management tools.
To ensure that franchisees continue to meet professional standards, they must undertake 21 hours of continual professional development (CPD) per year. Online learning aids and courses, regional meetings, training days, face-to-face meetings with directors and franchisee development managers and visits from the technical support team will make sure franchisees meet CPD requirements.
TaxAssist Accountants have their own national lead generation service which works in tandem with a franchisee’s local website, Google Ads campaigns and adverts placed in local media. They have significantly boosted their national marketing activities, including paid Facebook advertising and advertising on television for the first time in 2018.
TaxAssist Accountants provides franchisees with a business toolkit that contains everything they will need to market their business. Most of the stationary a franchisee will need for the early months of their operation is supplied as part of the franchise fee. TaxAssist Accountants pens, mugs and mouse-mats are also supplied, as are marketing brochures.
Franchisees receive all the technical support they need from a help-desk staffed by qualified accountants and support staff. TaxAssist Accountants supplies franchisees with a tailored IT package and a suite of software products for which they will receive full training and support, training manuals and workbooks.
TaxAssist Accountants claims that, after five years, it is possible to have over 400 clients and a turnover of more than £300,000. Some franchisees are happy to maintain this as a comfortable level, while others have been able to build on their businesses until they are turning over £500,000 plus.
Although approximations, roughly one third of turnover covers the cost of staff, another third covers costs associated with running the business and a third is profit.
TaxAssist Accountants believes that as they build their business, their franchisees are building an asset for the future that will have strong resale value. Many franchisees prefer to enter a business with an already established client base and there are often more buyers than sellers for the TaxAssist Accountants brand, achieving multiples of 1.3 times annual billing when a franchise comes up for sale.
In 2012, a TaxAssist Accountants resale broke the £1m barrier when Mark Fordham, a franchisee since 2003, who expanded to a shop in 2009, sold his Harpenden & St Albans franchise and became a non-executive director of TaxAssist Accountants, representing franchisees.
Each location for a TaxAssist Accounts franchise shop is carefully researched by the business development team to ensure that it is sited in the right location and will have the desired impact.
Once the shop is formally approved, the support team will help the franchisee through every stage of the store’s opening. This will include help with negotiating the lease and planning permission required for the refurbishment. The team will also advise on staffing levels and help you plan your launch event.
TaxAssist Accountants franchisees often have experience in the accountancy business and bring with them a recognised qualification (ACA, ACCA, CTA, AAT, ATT or CIMA). They need not have practiced recently, nor do you need to have been an accountant to qualify, but franchisees are expected to be capable of setting themselves up in business, as well as seeing the value in the brand, training and support that investing in the franchise brings.
The term of a TaxAssist Accountants franchise is five years, which is renewable for a further terms of five years, subject to a £750 administration fee. TaxAssist Accountants also offers a 10-year franchise agreement at its discretion.
If you have any questions about how to set up and run an accountancy practice, speaking to a TaxAssist Accountants franchise recruitment manager may be the answer. To find out more, or to request further information on franchising with TaxAssist Accountants, click on the ‘Send Enquiry’ button now.
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