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I am thinking about a shop front(2) -trying again

NB: Copy thread since the earlier thread just did not work. This topic is very important to me. Please, please, please stick to the subject matter and not insults, get one over someone etc.

About 3 years ago I went to TaxAssist's discovery day. Their business model has left a lasting impression on me. One of their key  requirement is for franchisees to open a shop front from year 3 of their franchise.

I have been thinking about a shopfront for some time. Their was a stage when I found a suitable premises but due to some legal issues I could not take it further.

If you do have a shopfront, I would be grateful if you could share your experience. What is it lke? I mean in terms of:

  • Additional costs, are these more than recovered through increased fees?
  • Sort of client walking through the door?
  • Areas that came to light to you once you open the doors. These not even occur to you earlier
  • What would you do differently if you could turn the clock back?
  • How did you choose the location?
  • Has it been a good move?

Please feel free to comment generally rather then responding to my list of questions.

Thanks

Replies

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By occca
23rd Jun 2011 08:45

We have a shop front on a main road through a small town, as opposed to a town centre.  There are a few small shops around us

We have parking at the front for clients, and we have a receptionist who deal with clients when they first come in

We get walk in's every week who mainly want self employed accounts and tax returns, though we have converted many of these to limited companies to save them tax

We haven't had many time wasters, maybe a couple here and there, but nothing worth getting upset about

I think the key points for me are :-

1. Location - you want something that can be seen, but in my opinion, not town centre

2. Parking - you need to make sure that clients have somewhere to park so that you are easily accessible

3. Reception - I would take on a receptionist, they can field sales calls, deal with walk in's, book appointments for you, etc.  Ours also does book keeping

I have had my office for a year now and it's going well.  The office costs have easily been outweighed by the extra clients we have picked up

If you want to have a chat, PM me and I will message you my phone number

Wendy

 

 

 

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By GeeBee
23rd Jun 2011 08:46

Getting noticed

I've seen a few of the big franchise accountants offices, and the main thing about them is that you actually notice that they are there.

Traditionally, accountants had a small brass plaque outside the office, which these days is completely useless as people rush past and don't see it.

So if it's all about being noticed, why not just invest in large illuminated signage.  I've done it and it works, and it's way cheaper than a high street office.

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23rd Jun 2011 09:15

Marketing

FirstTab - maybe you should look at your own strengths and weaknesses.

I am useless at marketing so tend to shy away from it. A shopfront is ideal for me, because the prospects come to me, rather than me going out to find the prospects, and in this way the shopfront justifies the extra costs.

Someone who is really good at marketing may benefit from investing the money in marketing, rather than a shopfront.

As GeeBee said, signage is VERY important. It is what gets you noticed, and remembered.

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By blok
23rd Jun 2011 09:24

.

What suits for one may not suit for another.

Why dont you trust your gut instinct and make the decision on your own?

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By occca
23rd Jun 2011 09:31

In reply to Blok

I'm sure FirstTab will make his own decision but why not ask for opinions of those who have been there and done that?  Not a very helpful reply ! 

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23rd Jun 2011 09:49

Depends

First of all, we don't have a shop front.  I suspect that you will get a certain type of client via footfall (perhaps other members can confirm or deny?). If those are the clients you want then fine. 

Personally, I'd rather spend the money on a website/search engine optimisation etc which, if done right, will get your more than enough extra clients (it did for us).

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By blok
23rd Jun 2011 10:32

occca

Maybe not helpfull but it was an attempt of being cruel to be kind.  The amount of time spent by the OP posting these types of questions, in my opinion would be better spent elsewhere.   How are we supposed to provide useful insight into fundamently personal questions.  OK by all means gather thoughts, but where is the gut instict?  Where in the intuition?  It's like running a practice by committee. 

The concesus offered on chaging from ACCA to FCA was dont do it, did the OP listen?  No!  Thats because its a personal choice.

Just my thoughts. 

OP, please take this as constructive criticism.

 

 

 

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23rd Jun 2011 13:02

@Blok / First tab

There are two different but important points raised by Blok:

1)  "The amount of time spent by the OP posting these types of questions, in my opinion would be better spent elsewhere".  I completely agree.  I think you're only semi-serious about a shop front, if at all.  I asked you on a previous thread if you spend too much time on practice management.  You said that you didn't spend enough time on pm.  I urge you to re-think that.  You seem to spend a completely disproportionate amount of time on pm compared to client work - that must be the case considering the array of queries you publish on AWeb. 

I could understand spending this much time on pm if you were establishing your firm, and didn't yet have much client work to do.  If that's true, you're in no position to consider a shop front, as financially it's a no-brainer to build up your business further before sinking such costs.

If you just got your head down and did some client work, you'd get referrals from existing clients and your business would grow.

2)  "How are we supposed to provide useful insight into fundamently personal questions.  OK by all means gather thoughts, but where is the gut instict?  Where in the intuition?  It's like running a practice by committee.".  I don't agree at all.  Experience of other AWeb members on pm issues is a brilliant way to research your ideas.  It's not like running  practice by committee unless you always follow the committee - something First tab already demonstrated that she does not.

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By blok
23rd Jun 2011 14:12

.

tibi, i think you have misunderstood what I was meaning. I was not meaning, dont ask questions of a fundamentaly personal nature.

I was making the point that there comes a time when you need to make a judgement call, there are some issues that just need a bit of a punt and can be over analysed.

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23rd Jun 2011 14:14

blok and thisistibi - deleted

deleted

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By blok
23rd Jun 2011 14:35

.

ok, goodbye.

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23rd Jun 2011 15:08

@FirstTab

Your post is very rude.  I gave my comments in order to be helpful, and you might not agree with them but you should take them as constructive feedback rather than having some kind of knee jerk reaction simply because your views are different.

I would also add that you have no right to determine what I comment on (whether or not you're the OP).  It is an open forum, and anybody is allowed to chip in.  If you want to control exactly who posts what, then you should start your own forum elsewhere on the internet.

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By aadil
23rd Jun 2011 16:45

Carry on First Tab

I personally find First Tab's posts re PM (and the answers) very interesting and helpful.

I am also a startup and face similar issues and thoughts and AW is fantastic

So First Tab please carry on.

 

 

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By DBlood
23rd Jun 2011 18:55

For once we are in agreement
@FirstTab

Your post is very rude. I gave my comments in order to be helpful, and you might not agree with them but you should take them as constructive feedback rather than having some kind of knee jerk reaction simply because your views are different.

I would also add that you have no right to determine what I comment on (whether or not you're the OP). It is an open forum, and anybody is allowed to chip in. If you want to control exactly who posts what, then you should start your own forum elsewhere on the internet.

Posted by thisistibi on Thu, 23/06/2011 - 15:08

 

 

I posted in the first version of this thread that I consider shop front give an unprofessional image. Some may not agree with me, and that is their choice, my opinion is exactly that - my opinion based on my experience.

However, it seems that because my opinion did not comply with the OP's views I had "ruined the thread". 

It now seems that anyone whose comments are not appreciated receives similar treatment. 

Perhaps FirstTab has yet to mature sufficiently to understand that they do not run this forum, nor do they dictate what others say.  I too consider their last comment to be extremely rude.

Perhaps FirstTab should take to heart their own words  "stick to the subject matter and not insults," - the words glass houses and stones spring to mind.  

 

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By Old Greying Accountant
23rd Jun 2011 20:38

Well ...

... as an accountant I tend to take substance over form. 

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By Old Greying Accountant
23rd Jun 2011 20:48

BTW

I am having a conception day my new birth control system, I have lots of shiny brochures and a fantastic logo if anyone is interested in coming?

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By Old Greying Accountant
23rd Jun 2011 21:39

My pleasure ...

... what is experience for if not sharing. It is nice though to be appreciated, when dealing with HMRC constantly it is not something that happens often.

Sorry, the OP deleted the comment to which I was responding so this probably doesn't make sense now!

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By JC
24th Jun 2011 08:07

Don't pose question & complain about answer ...

@FirstTab

Not the first time you have taken offence with a response because you did not like the content

You have every right to post questions (100's of them to date!) and even ask members to do your decision making & thinking for you and your business but quite frankly if you are not prepared to accept replies without taking offense then it is a complete waste of time all round
 

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24th Jun 2011 08:45

Cost and convenience

Shop front sounds enticing but I live near several shop front accountants and in the eleven years I have lived here I have not seen one person walk into any of them.

That still doesn't mean the signage doesn't get noticed, though.

I have an advertising board outside of my house and I think my house is on a B road near some traffic lights. I may get one or two people a year who contact me and mention they have seen me due to the board. Practically everybody says Google. I'm sure a shop front would get more but I wouldn't expect it would be a very large number. In the shop front accountants I look into they are either empty, filled with boxes and always uninspiring.

I am a fan of working from home. I am home the second I stop work and at work the second I want to be at work. I can interrupt home life and work life any time I want.

I consider the costs of a shop front and they seem excessive compared to the benefits: rent, rates, insurance, security. I've looked at rents for the type of shop front an accountant would expect and the cheapest in Colliers Wood is £7,000 per year. When you add on rates, etc. it must be costing you £15,000-£20,000 per year. How many new clients do you seriously think you will obtain from a shop front like that? You could do a lot of advertising with that.

I realise you may be thinking of taking on staff and will need to house them. You then have to compare a shop front with an out of the way office and see what the differences are.

The people who were saying you were thinking too much as opposed to acting had a point. I'm not a shining example of the latter but lately I am trying to spend more time on doing client work and restricting my time on improvements to my business. It's hard to get the balance right but I certainly feel better when I'm reducing my intray than when I am letting it increase.

 

 

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24th Jun 2011 09:10

If home isn't sufficient then why not shop front?

I looked at the other thread.

If I needed offices because of the number of staff I would have no objection to having a shop front office. My clients are very impressed by my high tech, very professional looking office when they visit so I would be happy to recreate that in a shop front office. I would want the shop front facarde to be impressive though, not like some of the shop front accountants you see.

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24th Jun 2011 09:16

Good point Peter

The area you are in will be a big influence on costs. Shops can be very expensive in some areas, especially on main streets in town.

Overall, we pay about 40% more than our office cost us, but we are more visible, we have a much bigger office/shopfront, more parking, large signage, and our own toilet and kitchen instead of a shared one.

We don't have people visiting us all the time. We get clients dropping off or collecting records, or attending appointments, just the same as an office. We don't get any salesmen dropping in (well, maybe a couple a year), but we got those in our offices, too. The only extra callers are the people who are interested in our services, and (but rarely) people just wanting free advice, and we got those in offices, too.

Working from home was a disaster for me personally (it lasted 2 weeks while I was waiting for my office to be vacated). I really was swamped with visitors (but unfortunately not the paying kind!).

The debate about working from home/office/shopfront will go on forever, because there is no 'one size fits all'. The location, and setup, does not indicate you are better, or worse, than any other accountant.

We each choose what works best for us, and what we personally prefer.

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24th Jun 2011 10:25

Shop Front

"It's hard to get the balance right but I certainly feel better when I'm reducing my intray than when I am letting it increase" Another good point.

Good to ask for feedback but also agree that shop front decision is a gut instinct type of decision - it's works for some, not for others and would depend entirely upon your own preferences.

I wouldn't go for it under any circumstances but others do and it works for them.

One other thing to consider about the location that hasn't yet been mentioned is the crime rate and also the adjoining premises - off licenses / newsagents etc.  Nothing like a gang of hoodies loitering to make clients feel uneasy about visiting, and there is not much fun in cleaning off graffiti first thing on a Monday morning.

 

 

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By Old Greying Accountant
24th Jun 2011 11:43

We had that ...

... came in one morning, no broadband.

Tried everything, nothing seemed wrong, finally BT engineer discovers the local little darlings had ripped the wires of the external wall, so all had to be re-routed out of reach of the little luvvies - thought I had finished moving things out of reach once my son was out of nappies!

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27th Jun 2011 09:46

Keep up the Postings!

I have no intention of ever setting up a shopfront - the whole idea fills me with horror.

I am still very interested to hear about other peoples' experiences as I have a lot to learn.

I would like to congratulate First Tab on continuing to post queries that generate (mainly) very informative replies.

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