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Franchising: Pros and cons for practitioners

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25th Mar 2013
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While it's a business model that has been around for a long time, accountants appear to be somewhat wary of franchising.

It’s understandable that practitioners may not want to feel they are losing their identity and autonomy under a franchise, but perhaps the franchise experience is different to how it’s perceived.

AccountingWEB blogger First Tab awoke a sleeping dragon when he brought the subject up in a recent blog.

Self-admittedly without much practice experience, First Tab weighed up the pros and cons of joining a TaxAssist franchise.

“I remain impressed with TaxAssist. I spoke to eight to 10 franchisees. All of them said their investment was worthwhile. It’s now crunch time - yes or no?” he asked.

AccountingWEB members were quick to raise their opinions of franchises, some of which David Paulson, senior manager at TaxAssist agreed to address.

“I have no idea why accountants seem against franchises, other than losing their own identity or not wanting to be constrained,” he said.

“There is no reason not to consider a franchise. Do your research, go and meet with the franchisor and speak to as many franchisees as you can, who will tell you really what it is like.”

Worry: Franchises aren’t good for established firms

Flash Gordon raised the fear that franchises were not advantageous for already set-up firms.

“For someone who's already built something, whatever size, I think you're going to find it equally hard because you have to want to change what you do,” he said.

Paulson argued that while the majority of those who join TaxAssist are start-ups, they have seen an increase in longer-existing firms.

“We are seeing an increase in people with fee banks up to £50,000 joining us as they have grown the business so far and need the support to start employing staff and taking their business to the next level,” he said.

When asked about what happens to existing clients, Paulson said that subject to a minimum free bank value of £5,000, the fee bank is not subject to management service fees for the first two years.

Worry: No guarantee fee banks will increase

Another member who said they were "firmly in the no camp", Two sheds brought up the subject of fee banks.

“Are you sure they would increase massively?” they asked. “Am I right in saying TaxAssist do not give any guarantees?”

Paulson said this was difficult to answer, as it depends on the practice and practitioner.

“There will always be exceptions,” he said.

“There are many entrepreneurial accountants that operate individually and have grown substantial businesses but in the main yes, the growth we see our franchisees achieve does often exceed that of new start-ups going it alone.”

Worry: You have to be a certain type of person to be a franchisee

Other members were concerned that you have to be a “certain type of person” to make a franchise work for you, something Paulson said is in fact true.

Apart from potentially needing to relocate, as franchisees are allocated an exclusive territory, you need to be business-minded, entrepreneurial and able to follow the franchise model.

“On top of the business experience that you would expect, we’re looking for people that are disciplined to follow the model which is true of every franchise,” said Paulson.

“Whilst we do of course listen to ideas from our network, if you are the sort of person that wants to change everything and forge your own path then a franchise may not be right for you.”

Worry: The support network isn’t enough

Papalazarou was in favour of franchises, saying the support network is “valuable” and if they had money, they would consider joining TaxAssist.

“I am currently starting up and the amount of time taken up dealing with admin before I can think about generating fees is definitely a burden,” he said.

Paulson said one of the upsides to a franchise was that you’re in business for yourself, but not by yourself.

“A good franchise will provide you with all the support that you need to run and grow your business. They will invest in researching new products or routes to market leaving you free to manage your business, “he said.

“As a sole practitioner, you have to source providers for technical support, CPD, marketing, website, leads etc. Whilst your institute may provide some of this with a franchise you should expect to get it in one package.”

The franchisor will also train you on the system and procedures, so when it comes to day one, you have a clear plan of what you need to do next, he added.

Worry: No autonomy/hard to exit a franchise

Although all TaxAssist franchisees are required to use CCH Central accounting software, they are free to choose their own bookkeeping and payroll software and they can benefit from preferential rates from recommended suppliers.

While practitioners won’t be able to enjoy the same autonomy as going solo, it’s arguable that the support network and benefits such as a potential increase to fee banks and preferential rates from software suppliers may be worth it.

While franchisees are locked in for a fixed term, there is a way out if someone wants to leave for any reason.

If you want to exit the franchise at any point, Paulson said a deferred sum is payable and when a franchisee has paid, they are free to continue trading under their own name and location, and keep their clients - although they are required to rebrand and change letterheads.

Other information

There are three banks (NatWest/RBS, HSBC and Lloyds Banking Group) who themselves are members of the British Franchise Association and understand franchising. As well as better access to bank financing the contribution ratio, interest rates and other banking terms tend to be better for a franchise.

The franchise banks will lend between 50% and 70% of the total investment including working capital with interest rates, for a secured loan, of between 4% and 7% above base rate. Apparently, banks like franchising as franchisees are more likely to pay them back.

There's no guarantee of success with franchise working for everyone, as the proverb goes, you can bring a horse to water, but you can't make it drink. In other words, while a franchise will provide you with the tools of the trade, the only way you'll be a success is through hard work and dedication fuelled by you.

Would you consider/are you in a franchise? If so, what's your perception/experience of them?

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Replies (89)

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By Old Greying Accountant
26th Mar 2013 13:30

Ah, those were the days ...

... one guy I know got the edge for a year or two because he was the first to have bold print in the telephone directory - that was about as far as you were allowed to go to advertise back then!

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Replying to lionofludesch:
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By The Black Knight
26th Mar 2013 13:39

Sign of the times?

Old Greying Accountant wrote:

... one guy I know got the edge for a year or two because he was the first to have bold print in the telephone directory - that was about as far as you were allowed to go to advertise back then!

There were rules about the size of an advert, it was quite small and any larger would have brought the profession into disrepute.

Can you imagine the horror at anything as obscene as a tax assist shop front?

"Small business does not need big accountants"

NO

but it does need ones that know what they are doing!

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Replying to Chris Mann:
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By taxassist
26th Mar 2013 13:47

The horror!

The Black Knight wrote:

Old Greying Accountant wrote:

... one guy I know got the edge for a year or two because he was the first to have bold print in the telephone directory - that was about as far as you were allowed to go to advertise back then!

There were rules about the size of an advert, it was quite small and any larger would have brought the profession into disrepute.

Can you imagine the horror at anything as obscene as a tax assist shop front?

"Small business does not need big accountants"

NO

but it does need ones that know what they are doing!

Clients LOVE the walk in shops, we get so much positive feedback from clients about this.  Our clients don't like Victorian Houses and Brass plaques.  They want to come in and ask questions and get answers they understand. 

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By OPTIMISE
26th Mar 2013 13:45

Franchise

Profits from Practices are not enough for the time and effort spent by qualified and experienced accountants. This is the general situation. But there are entreprenurial Accountants are able to make serious profits because they have good marketing, HR management, and financial management abilities.

Mostly Accountants coming from Industry to Practice choose the Franchise route. Great care has to be taken when choosing franchise. Even Meeting 8 out of 10 existing franchises is not enough to verify Franchise deals. Because there are so many issues to make a successful practice. Lot of research need to be done before embarking on a new practice venture.

 

 

 

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By petersaxton
26th Mar 2013 14:02

More by franchise accountants

taxassist said: "This is one scenario and equally we have taken many clients from many accountants over the years where work was incorrect or the accountant was not giving a good service.  This one scenario does not reflect the work our network do."

Although both franchise and non-franchise accountants have been accused of not giving a good service I have found that technical errors are nearly always produced by franchise accountants.

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FirstTab
By FirstTab
26th Mar 2013 14:05

Jealousy?

I wonder how many comments against franchise are motivated by jealousy. 

You have some franchisees who are not qualified accountant who have done/are doing  very well. I understand they employ accountants.  

Here are some, may be many, qualified accountants who worked so hard and yet are not doing as well. I say this because I was one of these jealous accountant. Now I think it is a free market and clients choose to go to them. They have got things right. I have not.  

In terms of quality of work - we all know we get poor quality of work from qualified accountants as well, outside the franchisees. Possibly because of the jealousy it becomes significant? 

As far as I know TAA millionaire was not a qualified accountant. Clients went to him voluntarily. As we all know it is clients choice. Many clients are going to TAA  whether we like it or not. 

TAA have got their business model bang on and I for one respect them for this.   

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John Stokdyk, AccountingWEB head of insight
By John Stokdyk
26th Mar 2013 14:10

A note about moderated posts

I'm afraid we have had to step in and moderate a few of the posts that have been made in this thread.

While it is certainly a hot topic for all concerned, we need to remind members taking part to abide by our community rules.

The comments that have been removed did not pass the tests laid down in our rules, but hopefully removing these comments will not scramble the debate too much.

Any participant wishing to take part should review our rules and remember that they are taking part in a professional debate. Trying to publicly demean another organisation or alleging unprofessional conduct by another member will not be tolerated.

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Replying to carnmores:
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By The Black Knight
26th Mar 2013 14:39

Quality

John Stokdyk wrote:

I'm afraid we have had to step in and moderate a few of the posts that have been made in this thread.

While it is certainly a hot topic for all concerned, we need to remind members taking part to abide by our community rules.

The comments that have been removed did not pass the tests laid down in our rules, but hopefully removing these comments will not scramble the debate too much.

Any participant wishing to take part should review our rules and remember that they are taking part in a professional debate. Trying to publicly demean another organisation or alleging unprofessional conduct by another member will not be tolerated.

John

Clearly there is a widespread issue regarding quality recruitment and training within some Brands. As the posts indicated these were not isolated incidents. No firms names were mentioned.

If you were about to enter into a franchise then the goodwill in the brand not only to potential customers but also your peers would be quite important wouldn't it?

In general franchises do have a reputation in the industry for providing low cost work?

 

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By petersaxton
26th Mar 2013 14:22

FT's view

I would assume that FT will encourage everybody to buy lottery tickets because some buyers end up as millionaires!

He also says: "TAA have got their business model bang on and I for one respect them for this."

but strangely he has decided not to sign up with TaxAssist!

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By petersaxton
26th Mar 2013 14:30

My experience

I work from home and do all the work myself. I have to work very hard to provide a good service to my many clients - I spare some time for sleeping, eating, posting on AccountingWeb and a limited amount of fun!

I used to advertise on Yell/Yellow Pages/Thomson Directories but I think I got very few clients from those sources. I now get a few clients via my rubbish website (watch that space in three months time!) and the rest are from recommendations.

I'm sure I would get a lot more clients if I signed up with TaxAssist and had a shop front but I don't think the clients would be of such a high quality that I get now and the costs would be huge.

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Replying to Chris Mann:
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By taxassist
26th Mar 2013 15:08

Clients

petersaxton wrote:

I work from home and do all the work myself. I have to work very hard to provide a good service to my many clients - I spare some time for sleeping, eating, posting on AccountingWeb and a limited amount of fun!

I used to advertise on Yell/Yellow Pages/Thomson Directories but I think I got very few clients from those sources. I now get a few clients via my rubbish website (watch that space in three months time!) and the rest are from recommendations.

I'm sure I would get a lot more clients if I signed up with TaxAssist and had a shop front but I don't think the clients would be of such a high quality that I get now and the costs would be huge.

So now our clients are the issue! Our clients, accounts production software, business model, success, awards, accountants, fee bank, seo, franchise, posts and our millionaire re-sale are no good in your opinion. 

You have attacked every aspect of our business and you are relentless at picking at FirstTab and his every move.  AccountingWeb is designed for discussion not harrassment. 

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Replying to Swedish Chef:
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By The Black Knight
26th Mar 2013 15:25

Dish it out but can't take it?

taxassist wrote:

petersaxton wrote:

I work from home and do all the work myself. I have to work very hard to provide a good service to my many clients - I spare some time for sleeping, eating, posting on AccountingWeb and a limited amount of fun!

I used to advertise on Yell/Yellow Pages/Thomson Directories but I think I got very few clients from those sources. I now get a few clients via my rubbish website (watch that space in three months time!) and the rest are from recommendations.

I'm sure I would get a lot more clients if I signed up with TaxAssist and had a shop front but I don't think the clients would be of such a high quality that I get now and the costs would be huge.

So now our clients are the issue! Our clients, accounts production software, business model, success, awards, accountants, fee bank, seo, franchise, posts and our millionaire re-sale are no good in your opinion. 

You have attacked every aspect of our business and you are relentless at picking at FirstTab and his every move.  AccountingWeb is designed for discussion not harrassment. 

Criticism where criticism is due. I think Peter could be more gentle with his words but that is really a matter of style.

Your posts imply that anyone that does not have a garish shop front is not easily accessible and the the advice they get will not be understandable, which is also offensive and derogatory and grossly misleading.

Where as real life examples have been moderated.

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By Flash Gordon
26th Mar 2013 14:46

Jealousy?

That always seems to be the standard argument thrown out. When you first posted your blog FT about joining TAA I gave you a lot of reasons why it wasn't a good idea. A lot of them revolved around the enormous cost you'd be paying and the fact that you could buy all the marketing help and other benefits for a fraction of the price. Am I jealous of TAA? Not in the slightest. I don't have vast numbers of clients but what I do have I've built up from scratch on my own. I have systems that work for me. I use software that does a good job for me and gets great reviews, not criticisms. I try different forms of marketing to see what works for me. If I need new equipment or furniture I shop around to find what I want and negotiate my own price. I'm not tied in to someone else's rules and I don't have to pay for clients that I've found myself. I'll build up my client base over time so that I have the clients that I want, not that TAA would want me to have.

If I'm going to be envious (not jealous) of any accountant it'll be the likes of Kent or Peter or Shirley who have successful practices based on individuality, common sense, personality and ethics.

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By petersaxton
26th Mar 2013 14:53

My idea for a franchise

If I was going to set up a franchise I would go for a website and shop front.

The franchisees and employees would be trained in business advice and the operations of the franchise and they would collect the client paperwork and either ensure it was delivered to - or scanned and emailed - accounting centres where trained staff would carry out the work to a high standard. The clients could have different levels of service relating to speed of turnaround, advice given, information produced, etc.

I like that idea!

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By petersaxton
26th Mar 2013 15:00

Flash, it's obvious!

You are jealous of FT.

You didn't have the opportunity to give all that money to TaxAssist when FT did. He went to the "discovery day" and "discovered" that TaxAssist were fantastic. Many were jealous and tried to talk him out of it. But, no, he stood firm. He signed up and soon he'll be rich! .... "

What was that? He decided not to sign with TaxAssist?

I'm confused now ....

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By petersaxton
26th Mar 2013 15:23

Only nearly every aspect

"So now our clients are the issue! Our clients, accounts production software, business model, success, awards, accountants, fee bank, seo, franchise, posts and our millionaire re-sale are no good in your opinion. "

I have not criticised your millionaire resale at all!

"You have attacked every aspect of our business and you are relentless at picking at FirstTab and his every move.  AccountingWeb is designed for discussion not harrassment."

I have justified everything else with reasons. You can respond to me and the many others who have voiced criticisms. I would recommend you use something approaching analysis rather than wild accusations.

You say I am picking at FirstTab but I think anybody would criticise a person who tries to make out that all the reasons and experiences can be explained away by "jealousy".

You yourself slurred me and when I offered you the opportunity to see the evidence that would show you were wrong you ignored my offer.

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Replying to Justin Bryant:
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By taxassist
26th Mar 2013 15:41

What request?

petersaxton wrote:

"So now our clients are the issue! Our clients, accounts production software, business model, success, awards, accountants, fee bank, seo, franchise, posts and our millionaire re-sale are no good in your opinion. "

I have not criticised your millionaire resale at all!

"You have attacked every aspect of our business and you are relentless at picking at FirstTab and his every move.  AccountingWeb is designed for discussion not harrassment."

I have justified everything else with reasons. You can respond to me and the many others who have voiced criticisms. I would recommend you use something approaching analysis rather than wild accusations.

You say I am picking at FirstTab but I think anybody would criticise a person who tries to make out that all the reasons and experiences can be explained away by "jealousy".

You yourself slurred me and when I offered you the opportunity to see the evidence that would show you were wrong you ignored my offer.

I have not ignored any request.  I've looked back over the discussions you referenced but cannot see where you have made this offer.  Our financial figures are in the public domain and have to be proven to Accountancy Age to enter their Top 50 and Accounting Live to enter their Top 60.  I don't wish to see your figures but thankyou for offering to show me them. 

I have not accused you of anything nor have I slurred you. I have stated that anyone can say anything on here.  That is general enough to ensure that all the readers take care when accepting everything they read.  Someone has posted that our software package is cheaper elsewhere when it isn't for example.  

You are picking at FirstTab and there is clearly history as you have both met but maybe it's time to let things go now.

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By petersaxton
26th Mar 2013 15:39

Has this gone how he expected?

Dear taxassist

I think you are getting increasingly frustrated with the majority of the comments on here and I wouldn't want you to suffer any more so maybe it is best that we stop it here?

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By Flash Gordon
26th Mar 2013 17:59

Why do some recommendations sound written?

I'll probably get slapped down in certain quarters for this observation but.... how come most of the recommendations on here for TAA sound like they've been written by TAA as part of a marketing blurb? If you ask for opinions on software, for example, on AWeb you'll get responses from the usual crowd giving their views, good bad or indifferent. And its members whose names you see on a regular or occasional basis. Ask about Moneysoft and you'll get a thousand and one replies all saying how fab it is and you wouldn't think for a second that they were anything other than genuine satisfied customers (in fact I doubt Moneysoft bothers to spend money on advertising because they don't need to!). Yet on this thread we have people who've never posted before going on at length about how fab TAA is and to me it sounds false. I'm not suggesting they're not legit TAA members (before anyone accuses me of slander / libel / crimes against humanity / treason), it would just have been more convincing if it had been well-known and respected members giving a view in plain English.

But that's just my view while I'm trying to get my head round what a client has done to her CIS deductions, contemplating cheese on toast and trying to remember to stop for the footie!

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By petersaxton
26th Mar 2013 18:10

Shame on you Flash

Don't tell me you are thinking about Doug Clancy who has been a long standing AccountingWeb member for 18 months and this afternoon he has decided to make his only two posts to date both in support of TaxAssist and at great length on this thread in an attempt to counter the widespread unfair criticism of TaxAssist.

Your insinuation is clear. It is part of an orchestrated campaign. I am sure a reputable organisation such as TaxAssist wouldn't indulge in such tactics. Anybody criticising TaxAssist   must be jealous. I know I certainly am!

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By Flash Gordon
26th Mar 2013 18:24

It reminds me...

It reminds me of AVN (I think) who in the past have been criticised and who then wheel out a hundred members who've never been seen before or since to post glowing reports. It just doesn't sit right with me. That's why I never trust websites with pages of recommendations - I figure that if I could make up recommendations (none on my website!) then others could too. But I'm cynical.

And you're right Peter, I'm probably secretly jealous. So overcome in fact that I forgot to toast my bread before putting the cheese on top! Still, AWebbers will be delighted to note that 'toasted cheese on untoasted bread' is just as tasty as 'cheese on toast' and easier for those with delicate teeth!

 

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By petersaxton
26th Mar 2013 18:40

Jealousy isn't good

Why don't you just hand over five or six figures and you could be part of the happy group - but be warned: "It's not for everybody"!

I'm surprised TaxAssist don't offer their award winning technical support on a case by case basis. That's bound to be a bigger money spinner than people paying a large lump sum before they have tried it out. At least they have been recommended by reputable people who have appeared from nowhere and TaxAssist employees.

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By TaxMatters
26th Mar 2013 19:34

Franchising is without doubt a superior way of getting into business if you need the support of a mature back office but the potential franchisee should be sure he is getting value for money. I know of franchises for instance which charge 50% of the sales as a monthly fee. TaxAssist is an honest organisation which present their offering fairly and answers any questions fully but in my view far too expensive. I took a close look at them and calculated that I would pay about half of my earnings to them if I remained with them for 5 years. Another thing I was not happy about is that I want to work with my peers but TaxAssist will accept anybody from teachers to used car salesmen but they will also accept accountants and bookkeepers. As with all franchises there could be onerous clauses in the agreement probably for disciplinary reasons. Each individual will have to decide if they can live with that kind of risk and if not then bow out gracefully as I did.

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By Doug Clanchy
28th Mar 2013 11:48

A bit personal?

I was a bit surprised at the personal nature of the last few posts and my initial reaction was to ignore it and get on with the things that matter, but on reflection I thought it best to correct one or two points and then return to more serious things, like earning a living.

My posts were not prompted by TaxAssist in any way, I have not been in touch with them about this at all.  The posts reflect my honest perspective to balance against the more negative views expressed by other contributors. As I use my own name rather than a nom-de-plume you can check my credentials by looking me up on the ACCA directory of members or google the TaxAssist Accountants Liss website.http://www.taxassist.co.uk/accountants/liss 

I am happy to have a conversation with anyone who wants to satisfy themselves about my integrity!

I doubt that the comments about the length of my membership of AccountingWeb and the number of posts would encourage other "new" members to post for the first time.  As it happens I was a member for a number of years, since shortly after the website was launched, but lost my original login details so signed up again using my current e-mail address.  I have only posted a few times as I would only post when I have something to say that will add to what has already been posted.

It is unlikely that I will be tempted to put my head above the parapet again, but I will continue to use the site as a resource as most of the contributors seem to have some respect for others and there are some valuable insights to be had.

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Stuart Walker Yellow Tomato Copy
By winton50
28th Mar 2013 12:26

Doug makes a good point

Sadly too many forums become less of a place where people can go and discuss things in a calm and mature manner and more about peoples personal fiefdoms.

Anyone expressing an opinion contrary to the people who seem to spend most of their lives posting on said forum are then attacked for their integrity/experience/existence.

The one thing I would ask is upon reading these posts again would you be happy to show these as an example of how professional accountants act when discussing things?

A forum is at its best when it is an open and honest debating chamber where people can engage in an investigation of any particular subject, get help and advice and even maybe make a few interweb friends.

Before anyone makes the point I've been a member for 3 years an 7 months and have posted a grand total of 6 times. You could also look me up on the CIMA members list if I could be bothered to change my user name.

 

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By Elaine Clark
29th Mar 2013 09:40

Bad practice

Over the years I have seen “bad” practice from various accountants from time-to-time but as yet have never been able to identify a pattern – whether such bad practice is from qualified accountants, unqualified accountants, franchise accountants, non franchise accountants or whatever else.

A pattern would at least help the good accountants amongst us to “educate” clients as to what to avoid when appointing their trusted advisor.  I shall keep looking to see if I can establish a pattern.

 

Luckily though the bad practice is very infrequent.

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Replying to Red Leader:
By petersaxton
29th Mar 2013 10:26

Why?

elainec100 wrote:

Over the years I have seen “bad” practice from various accountants from time-to-time but as yet have never been able to identify a pattern – whether such bad practice is from qualified accountants, unqualified accountants, franchise accountants, non franchise accountants or whatever else.

A pattern would at least help the good accountants amongst us to “educate” clients as to what to avoid when appointing their trusted advisor.  I shall keep looking to see if I can establish a pattern.

Luckily though the bad practice is very infrequent.

Why? If one of my clients leaves to go to a bad accountant it serves them right!

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Replying to DJKL:
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By DMGbus
29th Mar 2013 10:52

Clients can get misled - need for g'tees,product differentiation

Clients can sometimes (not necessarily always) get misled into changing or choosing accountants.

It can be difficult for a client to know that they are making a mistake in choice of advisor.

In my opinion the answer for reputable bodies / franchises is to differentiate their product by offerring charter guarantees to clients.

A franchise head office would for example offer a guarantee that if one of their franchisees "misbehaves" then the client would not lose out financially.

Ditto. ICAEW, ACCA, ICPA, etc.

Now what sort of things could be covered by the guarantee?... maybe...

Not misled on tax saving schemesNot misled on fees (as in  hidden extras)Not misled on practical experienceQuality control (as in not sending full accounts to Companies House without express client approval)Quality control (as in not claiming excessively estimated expenses)Quality control (as in not omitting to make client aware of Tax Credits)

In the above context which professional body governed Christopher Lunn & Co and what support are they providing to the victims (clients)?

The guarantee would need to be published and in writing - not some sort of verbal or web forum comment.

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Replying to Red Leader:
By ShirleyM
29th Mar 2013 10:38

I wouldn't waste my time, either

elainec100 wrote:

A pattern would at least help the good accountants amongst us to “educate” clients as to what to avoid when appointing their trusted advisor.  I shall keep looking to see if I can establish a pattern.

I would never criticise other accountants (or groups/types of accountant) to a client, even if they are total garbage. It just looks like sour grapes. If they really are crap, the client will soon be back, and if they have been crap in the past they may now have got their act together.

The only time I would try to influence a clients choice is when I think they need specialist advice, and even then I would just make a recommendation, and wouldn't 'warn them off' from making their own choice.

Either way, my reputation stays intact.

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Replying to mrme89:
By Elaine Clark
29th Mar 2013 11:04

I absolutely agree Shirley

ShirleyM wrote:

elainec100 wrote:

A pattern would at least help the good accountants amongst us to “educate” clients as to what to avoid when appointing their trusted advisor.  I shall keep looking to see if I can establish a pattern.

I would never criticise other accountants (or groups/types of accountant) to a client, even if they are total garbage. It just looks like sour grapes. If they really are crap, the client will soon be back, and if they have been crap in the past they may now have got their act together.

The only time I would try to influence a clients choice is when I think they need specialist advice, and even then I would just make a recommendation, and wouldn't 'warn them off' from making their own choice.

Either way, my reputation stays intact.

 

I absolutely agree Shirley; educating clients as to what to look for in accountants is often done on business information sites etc. I have always seen this done professionally without need to resort to criticism.

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By ShirleyM
29th Mar 2013 11:19

To repeat Peter's words ... why?

Why spend time 'educating' non-clients?

Or maybe this is a marketing ploy in the guise of 'education'? Advise non-clients to go to someone who offers what you offer?

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By Elaine Clark
29th Mar 2013 11:39

Confused?

I am confused as to why it is such a bad thing to educate clients or non clients or even accountants for that matter. Happy to professionally disagree on this but I stand by education being a good thing.

 

Enjoy your Easter break :-)

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Replying to ireallyshouldknowthisbut:
By petersaxton
29th Mar 2013 11:45

Confusion

elainec100 wrote:

I am confused as to why it is such a bad thing to educate clients or non clients or even accountants for that matter. Happy to professionally disagree on this but I stand by education being a good thing.

Enjoy your Easter break :-)

It depends what you are educating them about. I don't think anybody is saying educating clients is a bad thing so I don't understand why you are confused. If you are saying an accountant should educate their client in what to look for in a new accountant then that is a strange thing to suggest.

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Replying to kevinringer:
By Elaine Clark
29th Mar 2013 11:50

Great stuff

petersaxton wrote:
 I don't think anybody is saying educating clients is a bad thing

 

Great stuff - confusion over. Thanks Peter :-) Enjoy your Easter too

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By ShirleyM
29th Mar 2013 12:00

Too cautious?

Maybe I am too cautious, but the thought of 'educating' clients in the way I have seen some websites do isn't worth much, except as a marketing ploy to say 'choose us'.

Likewise with guarantees. I have dealt with companies that guarantee 100% satisfaction.. but you still don't get your money back unless you are willing to put 2 yrs of your life into making them honour the guarantee. Promises and guarantees mean nothing unless they are upheld willingly.

There are good and bad in all types and groups of accountants. The only advice I would give anyone seeking an accountant is to find someone who is honest, both about their capabilities, and their promises. That is easier said than done, as the many prosecuted bent/dodgy accountants prove to us time & time again, else they wouldn't have any clients, would they?

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Replying to DJKL:
Stuart Walker Yellow Tomato Copy
By winton50
30th Mar 2013 12:08

For what reasons?

I wonder if you can give us an idea of why you are attracted to franchising?

Not for any particular reason I'm just interested

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Replying to Euan MacLennan:
Stuart Walker Yellow Tomato Copy
By winton50
31st Mar 2013 12:53

It a possible

I think it's a good idea to think about other options.

you may well decide that being part of a franchise is a good move for you however if I were advising you as a client in another industry I'd also ask you what your view of yourself is.

So for example do you see yourself as a bookkeeper/accountant or as a business owner?

If it's the latter then I'd suggest looking at either employing people part time to do your tax/accountancy work or look at some form of JV type arrangement. After the downturn in 2008 there are a lot of people around who are doing several part time jobs so you may find it more advantageous to pay people to do the actual work and concentrate yourself on expanding your business. As a CIMA qualified accountant I'm required to maintain a formal backup relationship with another person who would look after my clients if for instance I fell ill.

I'm not saying that you couldn't do this in a franchise because of course you could. It's just a different way of looking at things.

I think the big benefit of a franchise is that all of your contracts, forms, policies etc are in place and someone else is thinking about them. I'm not convinced that it's worth the fee though. I think most if not all will also expect to take fees on the clients you already have, which frankly IMHO is a bit of a cheek!

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By carlreader
19th Aug 2014 18:46

Short sightedness is excellent...

The same happens in so many other industries. Independent burger cafes moan about McDonalds. Local coffee shops moan about Costa. Even a recent Chimney Sweeping franchise gets moaned about online!

The fact of the matter is, when joining a business format franchise you are purchasing the rights and licence to a system and a brand. This will suit some and not others. If you're one to tinker and innovate, probably best not to be a franchisee as it would frustrate both parties (although the Big Mac was invented by a franchisee!). If you are more compliant, structured and diligent - funnily enough, the skills of most accountants - you are likely to stick to the model and get extraordinary results from ordinary skills! 

Somebody commented about the success of a franchise not being 'proven'. Clarification is needed here - if it is a BFA member franchise, it would have been through a rigorous application and reaccreditation process. Any claims that cannot be substantiated can also leave the franchise open to potential misrepresentation claims. Any wise franchisor worth their salt knows this and invests in the very best advice to ensure a true win-win agreement (yes, it may make their franchise seem 'expensive', but sometimes you get what you pay for).

Does franchising work? Let's just say that a major retail chain experienced a significant increase in turnover and profitability (even after taking franchise fees into account) within it's stores that it converted to franchising, because of the increased motivation of the store manager turned franchisee. This is why brands such as those mentioned above, Clarks, Thorntons, Debenhams, WH Smith, Dominos, Toni & Guy, Mail Boxes Etc, Subway, Belvoir, Legal & General, O2, Dyno, Bang & Olufsen, Dulux, Starbucks, M&S, and many more franchise either in the UK or internationally. It is quite possible to have a "franchised High Street". 

Does the local cafe make better burgers than McDonald's? Quite possibly. Is the local McDonald's more profitable, more successful, and quite frankly a better business? Without doubt. The brands investment in R&D, network wide marketing, etc is phenomenal - and in this case (and indeed Taxassist!) I know, as I've judged them at national franchisor awards. Like it or not, a technically gifted accountant isn't necessarily a naturally gifted businessperson. Franchising gives those who need some support the platform to reach their potential. 

 

 

 

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By andy moore
15th Nov 2014 00:30

18 months on....

The latest (4th?) Blackpool TaxAssist franchise seems to have failed.....

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