From Franchisee to Director

Want to take a good income while building an asset for your future? Mark Fordham did. Here's how he made his million in just 9 years with a TaxAssist Accountants franchise and now sits on its board of Directors.

Mark Fordham’s career had been spent entirely in the Financial Services industry, with a background in banking, internal audit and lecturing at degree level. Realising that his whole career had been with big corporations, he decided that he wanted to work for himself and be in charge of his own destiny and build up his own business close to home.

“The reasons why I chose to consider franchising are the lower risks, and support in areas I had little or no experience of, such as sales and marketing.  As part of my due diligence I visited the franchise exhibition at Wembley, looked at websites and magazines, spoke to franchisees and attended discovery days.  I also attended a BFA workshop.  The reasons I chose TaxAssist Accountants were the positive feedback I received from the franchisees and the success to date of the franchise, the set-up of the Support Centre and the trust I had in them running the franchise.  Added to this, I felt that accountancy and tax was an area I could succeed in.”

TaxAssist Accountants is an innovative and award winning franchise servicing small businesses and the self-employed.  The franchise which is this year celebrating its 20th Anniversary, was established when the founder figured out that small businesses would need help with their tax and accounts in the wake of self-assessment.  Services offered include year-end accounts, tax returns, bookkeeping, VAT returns, payroll and cash flow projections.  After consistently winning awards in both the franchising and accountancy sectors, TaxAssist has grown to become the 25th largest network of accountants in the UK servicing over 53,000 clients from over 245 shops and offices.

Mark was awarded his TaxAssist franchise in 2003 and built up a client base in St Albans and Harpenden in Hertfordshire.  He proved to be a very successful franchisee winning the TaxAssist Fastest Growth Award 3 years in a row, as well as TaxAssist Accountant of the Year, and the British Franchise Association Bronze award in 2009. 

“The training and support I received from TaxAssist was first class. Everything they said they would do was done and more. I estimate that my business was years ahead of where it would have been had I started on my own, as a result of joining the franchise.”

“I attended an initial training course in Norwich which covered accounts, taxation, software, sales and marketing.  Training and support continued whilst I was out in the field, in the form of technical and marketing help lines, on site visits from technical personnel and Directors, update training days, and of course the support and advice of other franchisees. I also continued to receive a steady stream of leads from the support centre, and found their marketing activities both on a national and local level, and their campaign toolkit particularly useful.”

“I opened my TaxAssist shop in 2009 which led to an immediate boost in new business due to increased client walk-ins. I made sure I continued to be active with networking and marketing, encouraging referrals and ensured that everyone knew where the shop was.  The shop also gave the business a professional appearance with even more credibility.  I think the shop was the key to my success.  It was the visibility, combined with my efforts to drive business forward, and the back-up of the support centre, which lead to me building up to a client base of over 900.”

In 2012, just 9 years after starting his franchise, Mark sold his business for £1million to an incoming franchisee.  “I’m happy to say he is still a franchisee, and working alongside his family, he is himself driving the business forward with renewed energy and enthusiasm which is great to see.”

TaxAssist openly encourages all franchisees to consider their exit strategies, and they even provide training days so that plans can be put in place early on in the franchise term. Mark approached the Franchise Recruitment Manager advising that he would like to start the search for a purchaser, and within six months the ideal candidate had been found.

“Did I face challenges along the way? Of course. I worked harder than I ever had and I was slow to take on staff and was perhaps guilty at times of working in the business, not on the business as I should have done.  This is not a franchise you can effectively run on your own.  When I sold the business I had 13 employees, all of whom were crucial in helping me to achieve what I did. The TaxAssist support extends to staff, who can also attend training courses and use the helplines, which then freed up my time.”

“If someone asked me what advice I would give to someone buying a franchise, I would say to do your research thoroughly.  Think about what you will need from the franchisor and consider if they will provide this.  Talk to existing franchisees and get a feel for how they are doing.”

The TaxAssist franchise takes on both accountants and business/finance professionals and has found that they make equally good franchisees as is evidenced by Mark’s success.  Franchisees can employ accountants while they concentrate on building the business, holding client meetings and networking.  What is important is that candidates have plenty of energy, a friendly persona, are technically competent and have a desire to succeed and exceed their goals. 

In January 2015 Mark joined the franchise as a Non-Executive Director, representing the interests of the TaxAssist franchisees. 

“I thoroughly enjoyed my role as a TaxAssist franchisee and I am looking forward to bringing my wealth of practical know how, into the decision making process of the TaxAssist board.  The business model of TaxAssist is sound and there is certainly a ready client base crying out for the good quality, reasonably priced services on offer. I am evidence of what can be achieved by hard work, following the business model, and a personable manner. ”

The Franchise Fee to join TaxAssist Accountants is £34,950 + VAT and allows franchisees to work from a commercial office and then move to a shop front by the end of their third year. Alternatively franchisees can open up a shop front from day one, allowing their business to grow faster.  Full support and advice is available to help with business planning and finance raising and TaxAssist work closely with you to help you to achieve your goals and aspirations.

Over the last 20 years the support on offer has grown and evolved, providing first rate, unparalleled initial and ongoing training and support packages for franchisees and their staff.  This includes help lines providing comprehensive support on accounting and tax issues, lead generation, marketing campaigns, localised and national PR and a raft of additional services providers for franchisees to offer an enhanced service to their clients. 

Each franchisee operates in an exclusive territory, and there are still many territories and resale opportunities available across the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland.  If you would like to find out more, please ring 0800 0188297.  The next step would then be to attend a Discovery Day at the Support Centre in Norwich, where you will be provided with more details and will get to meet with one or more of the Directors of the franchise.  You will also be provided with a full list of franchisees for you to speak with as part of the research process, as well as research guides and business plan templates.

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