TaxAssist Accountants Franchisee Jackie Bligh joined the accountancy franchise in 2005 and opened her second shop in 2009.
Jackie Bligh Torquay,
Paignton and Exeter
I had spent 15 years working as an accountant in multi nationals and was becoming increasingly disillusioned with the ever increasing workloads and the headcount slashing mentality.
I had seen TaxAssist on the internet but hadn’t considered starting my own business due to being a single mum with no real assets. I made enquiries and found the government offered support in the way of the EFG loan scheme, and Tax Credits. After several meetings with Head office and the bank, I quit my well paid cushy job and jumped into the unknown!
I joined the TaxAssist training course in Oct 2005. I opted to go straight into a shop front and I opened for business in Torquay on the 2nd Jan 2006.
My first month was absolutely phenomenal and wouldn’t have been possible without the support I received from the accountants and tax specialists that run the helpline. They are dedicated solely to helping out the franchise network, and with their help I invoiced over £6k in my first four weeks and submitted around 20 self assessments, not bad for a beginner!
At the end of my fourth month I had 92 clients of which 65% were walk-ins!
What initially was my biggest fear, sales & marketing has become what I enjoy the most ….you can never be too pushy; If you don’t ask you don’t get and don’t forget your business cards if you’re going down the pub.
Year 1 saw phenomenal growth, year 2 was the year of managing the existing clients, and year 3 was making the work more profitable, thank you kindly Mr Mack (Franchise Development Manager)! Marketing was put to one side at the end of Year 1, sadly, as I needed to cope with what we had and getting clients is the easy bit!
Year 3 saw the start of the credit crunch, and during the year we lost a fair number of clients as a result of the economy. Fortunately my sign up rates of new clients remained constant, and the net effect was that we grew by 40 clients. Even during a recession I was pleased to see growth albeit much slower than previous years.
Here I am updating my testimonial having celebrated my 5th year in the franchise in October 2010. Since I last wrote my update I have expanded massively, I opened my 2nd shop front in Paignton, Devon in August 2009 and then purchased an exiting franchisees business in July 2010, giving me a total of 3 shops, 11 staff, 700 clients (excluding directors and partners) and turnover is circa £450k. Busy two years all in all! Rapid expansion does bring its headaches and is definitely not for the feint hearted! The last 6 months has been especially hard, merging two practices and hitting year end was tough, however I survived, learned a great deal, and once again a big thanks to the support centre!
What will the next 12 months bring? Well we are back to profitability of the acquired client base, there is little point in having all these clients if we are not making money! Plus I think if I mentioned expansion right now to my long suffering bank manager he may turn grey and retire! So the next 12 months will be natural growth and consolidation! I say this tongue in cheek as the diary is full over the next few weeks, we have seen an increase in walk-ins referrals and internet enquiries, so maybe the recession is well and truly over and my period of natural growth may in fact not be that calm!
With the merger I have been able to employ a tax manager and a full time sales and marketing manager, so I can now pull away from the “doing” and look more to the “managing” of the business! My aim of turning into work at 11am drinking coffee and chatting to clients may soon become a reality! Generally I am pretty exhausted having just overcome the worst of the merger and year end, however I’m not complaining we invoiced £105k in 7 weeks and I have rewarded myself with a 55” 3d TV.
I smile each time I am asked to update my testimonial as I can see how far I have come in a very short space of time, there is nothing quite like seeing your business grow! If I do have a down day, and we all do, it’s not long before I am smiling again and I have no doubt the next opportunity wont be too far away!
I have absolutely no regrets whatsoever…I can honestly say leaving corporate life was the best thing I ever did…. my only wish is that I’d done it sooner!"
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