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Accountacy Practice Franchise

Is anyone here running Tax Assist or Certax Franchise? I want to explore this as I am keen to set up a practice but I don't have practice experience. I am CIMA qualfied with public sector background.
Dev

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15th Jun 2009 12:36

abacus Accountancy Franchise
abacus is the only accountancy franchise approved by the BFA that is only for qualified accountants.

We are looking for accountants with industry experience who can support their clients in a proactive manner using their industry experience

We provide support in practice management and have free tax and VAT helplines for all our franchisees

For a free no obligation presentation and meeting why not contact Steve Jackson on either office 08700 552455 or mobile 07764 617004 or email [email protected]

our website is www.abacusnetwork.co.uk

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15th Jun 2009 12:02

Horses for courses
I recall when I first heard the pitch for the Abacus franchise from Steve Jackson. I formed the view that if I was moving into general practice (and I'm not) then Abacus was the route I would follow. Apparently it's the only such franchise to only take on professionally qualified accountants. The initial training, the terms of the deal, the links and support plus the lead generation promises all seemed second to none.

My interest was more from the perspective of exploring potential collaborative relationships for the Tax Advice Network. In a ideal world we would be the tax support provider of choice for the franchisees when tax issues get sufficiently complex that independent tax expertise is required.

I also spoke with Tax Assist Accountants. Again I thought this was a very well thought through franchise opportunity although I remain surprised that franchisees are NOT required to have any accountancy qualification or past experience. The focus is very much on micro businesses with a turnover of upto £100k - beyond that and franchisees are encouraged to refer their growing clients onto 'real' accountants (my words).

I don't know Certax (yet).

I can certainly see the appeal of starting in practice through a franchise or of moving into one within a short time of starting up in practice. There are many benefits but equally your success will be down to your own efforts and not a direct function of anything that the franchise does or doesn't do.

Mark Lee
Tax Advice Network

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By Anonymous
15th Jun 2009 10:53

Couple of observation
Thank you everyone for your comments. I am at an early stage of my research so I am keeping my options open.

Couple of observations:

Why Franchise - Why not do it directly? The key problem is lack of practice based experience. The franchise route provide hands on training and support and also ongoing technical back up. I need to explore if CIMA MIP can help with this.

Qualilty of Franchise Accountants - not sure as I have not dealt with any but what seems to be clear is that one or two of the Franchise companies are expanding rapidly and have been around for awhile. They must be doing something right?

Qualification - I agree a professional qualificantion is a must but I am sure it is not simpley down to qualification alone - it is the right approach and the right mindset that make the difference between good & poor quality if service be in accountancy or anything other.

Dev

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By occca
13th Jun 2009 09:36

Franchises Hmmmm
Sorry but every accountant I have come across who operates through a franchise have been awful and have had no idea what they are doing. This may not be the norm, but this is certainly my experience.

The accounts that I have seen have been shocking.

If you are competent and confident why not just set up on your own?

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By Anonymous
12th Jun 2009 14:26

A BALANCED VIEW

Aziz obviously believes he made the wrong choice when it came to deciding which franchise to take. If people want a balanced view I would suggest they talk to other Certax franchisees.

Like any business, you get out of it what you put in.

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12th Jun 2009 15:21

Franchises
Obviously one mans meat is another mans poison but I really can't understand why people would want to set up in business, but not have full control and pay huge one off fees as well as annual % of turnover (not profit) when they could quite easily do it all themselves.

In my mind an expensive comfort blanket.

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12th Jun 2009 15:09

Anon
Are you saying Aziz is a disgruntled Certax franchisee? Only . . . he hasn't told us that himself.

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12th Jun 2009 11:09

You could try Abacus
Abacus was set up by a CIMA accountant (Steve Jackson) and I believe quite a number of the franchisees are also CIMA members.

Personally I would weigh up very carefully whether, for the money that you spend on a franchise, that you cannot source the required services yourself (Training, marketing, software etc).

Also you will be able to get mentoring and support through CIMA MIPS. Call one of the committee members such as Mark Allen or Colin Longhorn.

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By Anonymous
12th Jun 2009 09:52

AIMS
I dont know much about them, but Lots of CIMA members seem to join AIMS - had you thought about them ?

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By Anonymous
11th Jun 2009 13:15

More calls than I can handle
I have received more than a few calls. I am sorry I am not able to handle any more calls. The following, I hope, will help. I am currently a franchisee (not Tax Assist).

There are many accountancy franchisees. Some of them are outstanding in the sense of having a very clear strategy, a sound proven business model and really good support structure, offering a turnkey solution. I have looked at Tax Assist in some detail and in my opinion they fall in the category of being outstanding. They are open and honest and will do what they say. There is no hard sell. They are not ashamed in any sense that they are offering a service to small businesses only. They are even proud of their Kwik Fit colour scheme!

However, for that outstanding price there is a price to pay in terms of franchisee fee and other ongoing charges.

I have looked at other franchisors, although of a lower cost, they do not have the same market presence or a clear marketing strategy as Tax Assist.

Anyone wanting to join a franchise should think very carefully. You will be committed for 5 years. Think whether you will be able to work the way a franchisor would like you. Most importantly ask difficult questions at an early stage.

If the options are going on your own or a franchise – It is a hell of lot easier with a reputable franchisor. This is at a price, but it is less lonely and you will avoid mistakes that you would otherwise make. Please make sure you select the right franchisor. They are lot out there, despite having the BFA stamp, will promise the earth get the money from you and then just leave it to you. You might as well go on your own.

Having said all this, it is also possible to be successful on your own. I think Mazuma Money is an excellent example of this. You will need determination and patience. It takes time to build a client base. It is also important to have a good support structure around you- family, mentors and other accountants. At time, after receiving a regular salary, you will feel like giving up, use the support structure to help you get through.


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17th Jun 2009 23:15

Franchise and the E-Myth and relevant
Alan – my comments are relevant because the franchising and the E-Myth are linked. You (and probably of the majority of accountants) may not like what I say but that doesn't mean I'm wrong. If anything it tells me that I'm probably on to something.

The CIMA message seems to be fairly clear - build the business ON your skills rather than WITH your skills. Personally, I'd recommend CIMA members look at a franchise outside accountancy industry because this would help prevent the trap of doing the work of the business.

I sponsored a CIMA members in practice conference and know the percentage of members with a turnover less than £50K and you can refute all you want, just keep in mind that I do have knowledge about your practice and it was given to me by you!

I appreciate (and accept) I get stick and that’s OK because I give it out and it would be good if others (like you) would see the discussion through. So, why not help the OP and answer the key questions about strategy in terms of client and service profiling? After all, you were happy enough to suggest a CIMA owned franchise.

You missed two questions:

1) If you stuck to micro and small business and bookkeeping why would you be needed IN your business?

2) Have you seen a practice with one owner who has a significant (over 50%) income/profit stream from consulting services while keeping away from client relationships?

Bob

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17th Jun 2009 21:00

Bob I did say keep it relevant
Its no wonder you get a torrent of abuse on these forums.

The OP's question was about accountancy franchises to start his practice.

I and others provided answers and alternatives, one of which was to contact CIMA MIPS.

You replied by saying that following your discussions with Mark Allen you believe that CIMA MIPS policy was to have very few high paying clients. I have refuted that (it may be Marks strategy but I don't believe it is CIMA MIPS policy at all).

Now you have changed it to your single track of spouting about the E Myth.

If you want to start discussions on that and others create your own new relevant threads and stop hi jacking others.

Oh and while you are at it you are not qualified to comment on my practice or anyone elses when you have absolutely no knowledge of them at all.

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17th Jun 2009 17:56

A rod for your own back
Alan – what’s relevant is strategy which includes service and client profiling. Let me ask you a question – if you stuck to micro and small business and bookkeeping why
would you be needed IN your business?

Could you have made a rod for your own back by saying “yes” to the wrong clients?

I wouldn’t say that EVERY practice using the solutions you mentioned are self-employed consultancies…just the ones I’ve met. At the end of the day clients don’t value the tools they value the relationship/opinion of the person holding the tool.

Have you seen a practice with one owner who has a significant (over 50%) income/profit stream from these resources while keeping away from client relationships?

Bob

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17th Jun 2009 17:56

All in one
Pete T – don’t be disappointed, I appreciate the reason you may be bored is because I say the same things over and over. That’s because people don’t get it even though they think they do. You're a perfect example; because you don’t understand that working ON the business includes investing time growing it (and that includes posting provocatively here).

In the day I mostly develop systems and work strategically. Yes, I build my business in the night because everyone knows a business owner only works half a day and they get to choose what 12 hours that is!

And, if I could find someone with as much knowledge, wit and attitude I’d employ them.

Emily – if you aren’t going to borrow and invest (franchise or not) then you’re going to accept the real possibility of paying the price of working for the rest of your life. By the way, if you didn’t know the £18,000 was an estimate of launching a bookkeeping franchise and you know we’d cut you a good deal!

Seriously, I’m not expecting a post here but did you give thought to the value of having 12 years to do something REALLY worthwhile and making a difference?

Whether is “doing accounts” or anything else it’s still “doing it” and I’m happy to disagree with you.

Jason – two heads are better if they are looking in the same direction and work as a team to achieve a common goal.

Your comment about a “true” entrepreneur and a franchise is a great question and I read a fantastic article about this recently which dealt with that for me. I think the entrepreneurial spirit can be satisfied within a franchise. But, I accept that for some people that won’t be enough. My question is that ego getting ahead of the commercial?

What makes you say the franchisor and franchisee have different objectives? The relationship should be a win for both and that’s what a percentage of sales can work well. Like accountants linking their fee to the tax refund. That tends to encourage the accountants to agrue a higher goodwill valuation on an incorporation.

Your right, Emily could invest £18k in her own business and develop it without any constraints and without any support. There would be no annual costs apart from paying people to do what the franchisor would provide.

Would she have greater salability? There’s a healthy market for franchise re-sales and most accountants can only sell their business to other accountants who want to use their own brand.

One man’s madness is another’s sanity and every time I question my own, I always end up wanting freedom because as far as I know we only live once.

Bob

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By Anonymous
17th Jun 2009 14:44

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Bob

I usually 'get' you straight off but am unclear on this one.

Two heads aren't always better than one for an entrepenuer / business builder. Further, two heads are not better than one when one conflicts with the other, which is what will generally happen with a true entrepenuer and a franchise. How can it not when they both have different agendas?

Of course a good franchise will welcome innovation from their franchisees as they will exploit it and make from it if its any good!

Instead of investing £18,000.00 into a franchise, Emily (as an example) could invest it in her own business then she could grow it as she wants to, without any constraints, tie in, or additional (considerable) annual cost. She could then grow the business whichever way suits her whether it be reliant on her or whether she sits back in the sun and enjoys the profit whilst others do the work. She would have a greater saleable buisness and could build her own brand that wouldn't and couldn't be tainted by the actions of others under the same franchise.

As said, I am sure that many people are happy working in this way but then again so are many happy to be employed, either seems madness to me!


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17th Jun 2009 15:45

Bob if you want a discussion please make it relevant
Bob in our profession, whether it is pure accountancy, tax or consultancy, businesses are based on skill sets. I employ people with requisite skill sets to deliver client led solutions. As part of the business evolutionary process I currently work on and in the business. The ratio's of these two have changed over time and will probably continue to change but it will, more than likely, never be 100% on the business (and I'm willing to bet that very few practices ever will do this).

When I talk about CIMA accountants differentiating due to their experience, please show me where this proves the point that we are consultancy based? Many of my peers that I have met each year at our annual MIPS conference run accountancy practices not consultancies.

Would you say that every practice that delivers Ran One, AVN, Probiz, HWL et al solutions are self employed consultancies?.

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By Anonymous
17th Jun 2009 14:45

Bob why do you not practice what you preach
I am disappointed with myself for respnding to you as you bore me. But why do you not practice what you preach re the E-myth why do you not work on your business rather than for it? You work in to the night as the time of some of your posts on this forum suggest and if you were to employ some one rather than employ yourself as a marketing manager I am pretty sure that they would do a better job than you and improve your business and allow you to work two days a week.

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Bob
1) I haven't got £18,000 and I'm not going to borrow it!!

2) Go have a look at my website and you'll see that "doing accounts" isn't all I do.

3) You say it's a job, I say it's a business... let's agree to disagree before we end up like the comic duo in a pantomime :-)

M

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Dev
I'm in North East Cumbria!

Market research - I'd advise you to use the web and check out a) what other accountants are doing and charging and b) what business owners want from their accountant (go to somewhere like www.ukbusinessforums.co.uk).

I agree with you that it's chicken and egg - but when I first took a job in practice, there was no way I could have managed to run a practice on my own. Admittedly this was 3 years before I qualified. But it is so different - I'd strongly advise you to get some experience first. Why not aim to take a year or two for experience, then start your own practice? A year is a respectable time to stay as an employee/contractor.

M

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17th Jun 2009 13:46

Different views
Emily – arguing with me is always good, provided you take it in good spirit.

Debate is a great way of looking at things in a new way - I’ve learnt most by questioning and not accepting “it’s always done that way”.

Yes, franchises costs money and that’s an obvious cost, but what is usually a much bigger cost is the opportunity cost. Take your situation…let’s assume you spend the next 20 years doing accounts. That’s 30,000 hours of your life.

Imagine you invested £18,000 in a franchise and then grew this in five years so you only needed to work two days a week. This would mean you’d save 18,000 hours which is 12 years of your life – what’s that worth? Is it more than £1,000 a year because that’s the cost?

Have a think about what good you could you do with 12 years of your life and that's what's the E-Myth is about.

A job is where you work (regardless of the activity). Your new role is different from your old one but it’s still a job - that’s why it’s called self-employment. However, I appreciate that maybe better than working for someone else but it’s not a business and it’s not better than other people doing the work for you so you are free to do what you really want. Unless you think your life's mission is to do accounts for people - I think there's more to you than that. The question is do you?.

Jason – you can look at it that way or look at it like I do as collaborating with likeminded people so everyone wins, quicker and easier. Personally, I’m not interested in doing it “my” way but the best way and two heads are usually better than one.

Business is really about innovation and a good franchise will welcome innovation from franchisees. Why bother re-inventing the wheel when there are much more important things to do?

Alan – experience in industry tends to lead to consulting assignments and I think your members are great at that. My point is that they should build their business WITH their skills not BASED on their skills. So, as much as you won't like it, your comment confirms my point.

Bob

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By Anonymous
17th Jun 2009 13:15

Emily
Hi Emily, I would be interested in knowing how you have approached market reseach in terms of pricing strategy and potential demand?

I agree with you about getting experience via sub-cotracting and testing the water but there is a "chicken & egg" situation for many like myself i.e. quite difficult to secure a sub contract or short-term employment with a practice without having hands-on previous experience particularly with current empployment turmoil.

Where about are you based? I am based in the West Mid.

Dev

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17th Jun 2009 11:27

Franchises
Hello Alan

If a business owner hasn't got the time to reasearch the market and/or create a strategy or the resources to buy it in (without loss of control) then should that person be a busness owner? Or would they be more suited to employment where you can progress with one area of expertise alone?

These are the essential foundations of creating any business, in my humble opinion.

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17th Jun 2009 11:00

Jason
Personally I think that your summation of an accountancy Franchise isn't far off.

Although I believe that it is a potential 'fast track' business model for some people who identify certain gaps in their knowledge. Its really a case of how much time they have available for researching the market, creating their own business strategy etc

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17th Jun 2009 10:56

Re CIMA
Bob

Obviously cannot fully reply re your conversations with Mark as I wasn't there however whilst we as a group require a differentiator to our esteemed ACCA/ICAEW members (Our experience gained in Industry for example) we do not focus purely on creating business models that have a couple of clients requiring consultancy only (There are CIMA members that do as MIPS have people who run consultancies as well as those in 'general' practice and both are supported via MIPS).

So my original advice still stands :-)

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By Anonymous
17th Jun 2009 10:38

.
Bob - I think you misinterpret what I wrote or maybe I wasn't clear.

When I say do it all yourself I was referring to building the business, not the operational work. You are preaching to the converted with regard to building a business that doesn't rely on it's owner!

To me, what is important about having a business is having full control to take whatever action you deem fit and to go in whatever direction you choose to. Having a franchise and being told what to do AND have to pay substantial amounts for the privilege AND get tied in? To me, that is not having your own business - it's for employees who want to own a business but haven't got the mental strength to set up on their own and build it themselves.

Just my opinion and I am sure that franchises work well for some.

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By Anonymous
17th Jun 2009 10:29

A year you say?
Respect!!!!! :-)

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P.S. Bob...
PLEASE understand that a one-man or one-woman business IS a business, NOT a "well-paid job". In a well-paid job, you don't have to a) find customers b) bill customers c) worry about how you're going to pay the bills. A single-handed business has to do all of these.

The E-Myth was written about a lady running a pie shop. That's the sort of business that really can't be run single-handed. But not all businesses are like that. The number of sole practitioners out there suggests that accountancy is the kind of business that very definitely can be run single-handed.

And many accountants do actually want to do the work themselves, if only because we know that by doing it that way the work will be good!

I guess we'd better agree to disagree, because I didn't work for you for a year without learning that arguing with you is never any good :-)

M

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Franchises are pricey
I'm just setting up a small practice.

The reason I haven't gone for a franchise is that they're far too expensive. The cost runs into the thousands. I don't have that kind of money to spare and have no intention of taking out a loan.

Besides which, I'm targeting only clients who are based at home, and none of the franchises would fit with that model.

Dev, like yourself I went from industry to practice, but before I finished my CIMA exams, and in the end I switched to ACA and qualified by that route. Practice is a very different world from industry, and if I were you I'd start by finding subcontract work or employment with a practice and get comfortable with that first.

M

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16th Jun 2009 21:53

Do you really want to be an accountant or own a business?
Dev – the first question is do you really want the hassle of running an accountancy franchise when bookkeeping could deliver what you’re after?

If £50k to £75k net profit does it for you then maybe Crunchers Bookkeeping Franchise could be of interest?

If you need £100k to £150 then have two offices!

Aziz – a focus strategy is powerful.

Alan – from my conversations with Mark Allen, CIMA seem to want to push the “we do more than accounts strategy” for there members. The problem we’ve seen with this is that it invariably leads to the accountant having a small number of large paying clients which is great if you want a well paid job. But, that’s not a business.

ANON and Andy – you won’t get a balanced view from me. It’s E-Myth or nothing.

Jason – it’s possible to do it all yourself but why bother? There are two reasons – to save money and the other is emotional. Emotion is not business and you should not build the business around yourself - just look at business as an investment and saving money doesn’t necessary make you money. You can actually lose more than you save.

Stephen – does a franchise which relies on a qualified owner mean the franchise model relies on the owner doing the operational work?

Bob

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20th Jun 2009 11:04

Agendas
Bob

You are a natural born entrepeneur yourself - I'm sure you know as well as I do what makes me say that, a franchise goes against every instinct of one. Entrepeneurs want to create, they want control, they want freedom and most of all they don't want to be told by anyone on how to run their business. And yes, ego may come in to it, it's not always a positive attribute but usually part of an entrepenuers make up, even the humble ones.

This is why I can say with confidence that true entrepenuers won't be interested in a franchise even if it is a proven route to quick profit, they would rather take longer and do it themselves.

The true entrepenuer will build and own the franchise not run one for someone else.

Jason

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