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Decision Time - TaxAssist Franchise

28th Feb 2013
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We all face difficult decisions at different stages of our lives. By difficult decision I mean a decision that will have a far reaching effect in years to come.

I am currently facing a difficult decision over a TAA franchise. Should I go for it? I will try and layout benefits and downsides as I see them of going for TAA franchise:

Advantages

Disadvantages

Great support means massively reduce the risk of making major errors

Giving up my own brand/name of practice – little known as it is. I spent so much time thinking of the name. 

Far easier to get bank funding with TAA name

Giving up my website- I spent hours and hours on thinking about the design. I just love my website. So do my clients. 

Shop front risk reduced – location, type, suppliers and help within the network of avoiding pitfalls

Giving up my office that I love so much

Exchange of ideas within the network

Franchisee fee

Lower cost of  product/services through TAA strong bargaining power

On-going management fee

Excellent systems

Have to follow franchisors systems even the ones I do not like

Excellent CPD through TAA Academy

High exit fees. If I decide to leave before my 5 years are up.

Regional meeting mean concerns and ideas can expressed

The territory I want is not available.

Third party suppliers are vetted by TAA

What if my chosen territory does not generate sufficient fee bank?

Most importantly sales and marketing support and training

It will force me to think and draft a business plan. I love their business plan template.

Massive increase in fee bank

Bold text are key advantages/disadvantages as I see them.

I still remain impressed with TAA. I spoke to 8 to 10 TAA franchisees. All of them said their investment was worthwhile and they do not regret their decision. Mind you they are 2 franchisees who have not returned my call. I do not know what that says. I will try and pursue them and see if they will speak to me.

It is now crunch time – yes or no? Any further light you can throw that will aid my decision making? 

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Replies (119)

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Man of Kent
By Kent accountant
22nd Mar 2013 13:31

Oh, I almost forgot...your marketing isn't all that...

I got a phone call from Tax Assist asking if I needed a new accountant...

Maybe I do, can you recommend one :)

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By petersaxton
22nd Mar 2013 15:09

Response to TaxAssist

 

“Why is 44,000 clients not earth shattering?  Compared to what?”

If you have 192 franchisees then that is an average of 229 clients each. That’s not a lot given you tend to operate at the cheaper end of the market.

“How have we been rumbled exactly?“

You said: “although odd to think about before even joining the franchise” when most people would think it is very sensible to consider what would happen if they wanted to leave. People are willing to pay a lot to get away from you after paying a lot to join you. You don’t have a very convincing case why anybody should pay you vast sums rather than use the money to establish their own practice. You accuse people of lying when they have no advantage to be gained yet you think it’s reasonable to say anything to impress the gullible when you have a lot to gain.

“we are an award winning franchise”

I went to a seminar by 2020 and they recommended accountants enter for awards. When asked what was the point, they said: “It’s because most people don’t bother to enter so you have a good chance of winning and using the award to impress potential clients.

 

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Replying to stepurhan:
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By taxassist
22nd Mar 2013 15:40

Rumbled

petersaxton wrote:

“Why is 44,000 clients not earth shattering?  Compared to what?”

If you have 192 franchisees then that is an average of 229 clients each. That’s not a lot given you tend to operate at the cheaper end of the market.

“How have we been rumbled exactly?“

You said: “although odd to think about before even joining the franchise” when most people would think it is very sensible to consider what would happen if they wanted to leave. People are willing to pay a lot to get away from you after paying a lot to join you. You don’t have a very convincing case why anybody should pay you vast sums rather than use the money to establish their own practice. You accuse people of lying when they have no advantage to be gained yet you think it’s reasonable to say anything to impress the gullible when you have a lot to gain.

“we are an award winning franchise”

I went to a seminar by 2020 and they recommended accountants enter for awards. When asked what was the point, they said: “It’s because most people don’t bother to enter so you have a good chance of winning and using the award to impress potential clients.

229 clients is an average and have new franchisees who are in year one in amongst these figures don't forget.  We operate with small businesses so that's anyone under £2m turnover in our definition.  We don't do audit work and work with thousands of Limited companies.  All of our figures are available in the Accountancy Age Top 50 - http://www.accountancyage.com/static/top50-this-year from 2012.  That's what we mean by double digit growth.

I stand by the statement that it's odd to think about leaving the network before you have even joined but if that's us rumbled then I guess I will concede here.  I've never accused anyone of lying but I've opened up the forum to consider the statements written here. 

Winning awards is not just about entering them, you have to back up the claims with actual evidence and the competition was extremely tough.

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By petersaxton
22nd Mar 2013 22:08

It's all lies?

"229 clients is an average and have new franchisees who are in year one in amongst these figures don't forget.".

I remembered. Even if you strip out the new franchisees it wouldn't be very impressive,

I see what you mean now "Can anyone else match this? No clients of their went out of business in the whole of 2012?" I misread it.

I don't think any of my clients went out of business in 2012 except for four who left the country and one who took up employment. A few will be retiring in the next couple of years though. But I don't suppose you will believe me unless you just say that rather than admit you have been rumbled.

 

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FirstTab
By FirstTab
22nd Mar 2013 17:12

Based on homework not preconceived perceptions

As I have mentioned before I have been to TaxAssist’s Discovery Day, I have also spoken to 20 randomly chosen franchisees all of them said:

1)    TAA are honest about what they offer, joining costs and exist costs

2)    Happy with their decision to go with TAA

3)    TAA does meet its promises

During my due diligence stage, TAA were extremely helpful. I was not given a sales talk at any stage.

I admit to being highly impressed with TAA. They are an ethical franchisor lead by an honest CEO. I found they were there to help as much as they could. This was also backed up by the feedback I received from 20 franchisees I contacted.

My views are based on some detailed homework.

 

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By petersaxton
22nd Mar 2013 17:18

Well?

Are you buying a franchise?

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By Flash Gordon
22nd Mar 2013 17:21

Peter beat me to it

Are you going with them then? That would then indicate that you believed what they said and so on.....

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By petersaxton
22nd Mar 2013 17:30

My guess is ...

Exit web page left saying: "TaxAssist is wonderful, but ...."

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By petersaxton
22nd Mar 2013 22:26

If this is representative of TaxAssist

then I think they will have great difficulty in convincing any but the most gullible of people.

We've seen how poor their marketing is - SEO can't even better a sole practitioner and phoning accountants asking them if they need an accountant.

They think it's odd for somebody to want to know the conditions if they want to exit a contract.

They think having an average of 200-odd clients is impressive.

They think increasing fees by an average of £9k in a year is impressive.

They don't have a sensible response when they are accused of over promising and under delivering.

The software they recommend doesn't have a great reputation.

I have received evidence that their "special" deals for goods and service are more expensive than other comparable offerings. If they can provide evidence that I am wrong then I am more than happy to admit it.

When all else fails they practically accuse people of lying without any evidence at all. If they want evidence they are more than happy to come to my office and I will provide evidence of my statements as long as they allow me access to their records so I can verify their claims. I have nothing to hide. I would suggest that they would not be happy for somebody checking how truthful they have been.

I would be surprised if franchisees achieve greater average profits than similar non-franchised accountants.

 

 

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By Fred Smith
24th Mar 2013 20:12

Peter, I think that you are being a little harsh on TAA.  I was a franchisee and agree with all First Tab's comments.  It is not for everyone; what is?  However, it can and does work for some.  Can everyone just agree to disagree?

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Replying to accountantccole:
By petersaxton
25th Mar 2013 09:40

Unwarranted?

taxassist wrote:

petersaxton wrote:

TaxAssist has practically accused me of lying and that everybody who is urging FT not to sign up with TaxAssist may be doing it because they don't want FT to succeed.

Without even considering anything else I think the above shows that at the very least their representative is a despicable person.

I will leave it there.  The last comment was hugely unprofessional, unwarranted and this is what drives AW readers away in their droves.

You will find that AW readers are not being driven away in their droves.

You have to accept that if you want to make wild and unwarranted accusations people will judge you on them.

It's interesting that, of the two people who have commented on the thread who have bought a TaxAssist franchise, both are now ex-franchisees.

I'm quite willing to admit that, as Fred Smith has said, TaxAssist can work for some people, but I doubt it in FTs case. FT started out by buying a franchise and wasn't happy with it. He then went on to build up his own practice. He's got some things right and some things wrong. He seems to know what he has got wrong. I think he can change things more easily and cheaply without having to accept the disadvantages he noted in his OP. This is why I, and many other people, don't think it is right for him. I'm certainly not trying to give him bad advice because he is a local competitor. If that was the case I would be looking forward to him signing up with TaxAssist and being sent off to the Orkney's to open a franchise! What I like about AccountingWeb is that the vast majority of us try to help each other. Of course, there is the exception who see their role as to promote their own business at all costs but they get found out very easily.

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FirstTab
By FirstTab
25th Mar 2013 09:28

David Paulson
I have met, had telephone conversations and exchanged numerous emails with David.

He has been fair and honest with me. A true professional.

Peter I think you last comment was not fair or professional.

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By petersaxton
25th Mar 2013 10:06

What is more important? Truth or money?

What is your opinion of his comments when he practically accused me of lying and that everybody who is urging you not to sign up with TaxAssist may be doing it because they don't want you to succeed?

Of course he will try to impress you. He wants you to give his organisation a lot of money.

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FirstTab
By FirstTab
25th Mar 2013 10:34

Decision

Due to change in my recent personal circumstances for the moment I am not going for TAA franchise. 

Based on my homework I remained impressed with TAA. I intend to review my decision in a year. In the meantime I will try and improve my practice on my own. Whether I will be as effective is a different matter.  

I hope this now rests all the questions on whether I am going with TAA or not. 

 

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By petersaxton
25th Mar 2013 10:41

It does

Thank you for letting us know.

Good luck!

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By petersaxton
25th Mar 2013 12:40

Personal circumstances?

I'm not quite sure what "personal circumstances" would make you reject what you say is a good opportunity.

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By Flash Gordon
25th Mar 2013 15:25

Is it a woman?!

Could we have a wedding to go to?! (Preferably not in Edinburgh, too far to travel) A nice big wedding with a good nosh & drinks for us would cost a few thousand so I'm guessing that's why FT is giving up the chance of a lifetime. That is really sweet :)

Congrats FT!

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By petersaxton
25th Mar 2013 15:55

I agree

If it's a choice between a sexy Scottish girl and TaxAssist I know which I would choose!

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By Henry Osadzinski
25th Mar 2013 16:49

Going off topic

Sorry folks but this thread is in danger of veering off topic again. We don't want to have to close a thread that's been of interest to many people so please take care when posting to remember the discussion at hand. We've also had to remove a few comments that got too personal. Debate is always welcome but take care to focus on the subject and not the individual.

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