A message from Elaine Clark, Founder and Managing Director of CheapAccounting.co.uk.
I’m really pleased to announce that, after a lot of hard work and effort, we’ve restructured the CheapAccounting.co.uk Franchise offering.
I’ve still kept with the title of the CheapAccounting.co.uk Franchise although I do prefer to call it the CheapAccounting.co.uk Network. However it seems that when people search for opportunities to open up an accountancy practice they look at franchising. So, on this occasion, rather than rock the boat I will go with the flow; for those who know me this may come as a surprise!
I prefer to call it the CheapAccounting.co.uk Network because franchising seems to have a bit of bad reputation in some quarters which is sad. In my experience our franchise really works for the right person.
How do I define the right person for the CheapAccounting.co.uk Network?
Well it would be someone with the right attitude, temperament, technical abilities, professionalism and work ethic. Starting any business is not easy; starting an accountancy practice is even harder given the plethora of rules, regulations and laws which seem to be constantly changing these days.
That said it’s not just about doing the accounts and tax returns; you need the full gambit of business skills from:
- marketing – although you’d not have to do a lot of that as a CheapAccounting.co.uk Franchisee
- selling – I’d classify this as soft selling skills required by a CheapAccounting.co.uk Franchisee – you do need to be able to convert a client from the hot referrals we receive every day to the web site
- operations – meaning all the things associated with setting up a client, billing, collecting money and so on
With the CheapAccounting.co.uk Franchise offering the right person has the best chance of launching and building a successful Accountancy Practice. They do this within the CheapAccounting.co.uk network taking full advantage of the skills, experience and expertise within the network; if you’ve not come across something before you can bet someone in the Network has and they’d all be happy to help. It’s like being part of a big Practice whilst still owning your own business and being in control of your own destiny. Obviously that means it suits team players; those who can work on their own as well as be part of a larger team or Network.
Who is the CheapAccounting.co.uk Franchise offering aimed at?
The new franchise is aimed at anyone, with the right qualifications (see below) who wants to start their own Accountancy Practice as a sole practitioner. Ideally it suits someone who is happy to go it alone but can see the benefits in being part of a larger Accountancy Brand; not least because of the added value that the CheapAccounting.co.uk Brand would bring to their business.
Specifically the CheapAccounting.co.uk Franchise would suit:
- parents who want to work at home as their families grow
- those who want a flexible work-life balance with hours to suit
- carers who want to have a business and generate income whilst providing care to loved ones
- pre-retirees who want to glide into retirement with a client portfolio or a pension pot to add to on selling the Practice
- retirees who want to keep their hand in (the old accountants never retire they just become unbalanced joke springs to mind)
The CheapAccounting.co.uk Franchise offering doesn’t have hard and fast rules like some accountancy franchises. It can be as big or as small as you like. You can work full time or part time; the hours you work just need to suit you as long as your clients know when you’ll be around and when you’ll respond to their communications.
It’s flexible. You make it what you want it to be; it is your own business after all.
Rules and Formalities
The only rule that we do have is that you cannot run it in just the evenings and the weekends; that just doesn’t work for taking referrals and for some clients. You do need to be around during the day on some, not all, weekdays. Oh and if you are working elsewhere your contract of employment must not prevent you from operating your own accountancy business.
Aside from that and a few operational standards, which are not at all onerous, we have little in the way of formalities. The CheapAccounting.co.uk Franchise doesn’t have the rigidity of other franchises that you may have looked at. You are free to be your own boss, operate your business in the way that you want it within the realms of it being an accountancy practice and you follow the usual standard and ethics imposed by your professional accountancy bodies.
How much does the new CheapAccounting.co.uk Franchise offering cost?
The initial one off fee is £4,999 plus VAT. The monthly fees are 20% of gross billed revenue excluding VAT reducing to 10% of gross billed revenue excluding VAT after 36 monthly fees have been billed.
These are the only payments; no renewal fees or additional outlays.
What qualifications do you need to apply for the CheapAccounting.co.uk Franchise offering?
The CheapAccounting.co.uk Franchise is available to those who hold a valid Practising Certificate from one of the following UK based Accountancy or Tax Bodies:
- Association of Accounting Technicians (MAAT or FMAAT)
- Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA or FCCA)
- Institute of Chartered Accountants in England & Wales (ACA or FCA)
- Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland (CA)
- Institute of Chartered Accountants in Ireland (ICAI)
- Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (ACMA or FCMA)
- Chartered Institute of Taxation (CIOT)
- The Association of Taxation Technicians (ATT)
What experience and expertise will you need?
The applicant will be expected to show relevant experience such as accounts and tax returns preparation and should be familiar with current tax laws and legislation. A skills assessment will be performed by the franchisee, as part of the induction process, and skills gaps identified. Support, mentoring and coaching will be provided but the franchisee will be expected to undertake self study to bridge any skills gaps identified.
The other main attribute that a potential franchisee will need is their ability to communicate; both excellent written and verbal skills are essential. If you’re a shrinking violet who doesn’t like to interact with people running a business may not be for you.
What do you get for the investment?
The investment in the CheapAccounting.co.uk Franchise gives you several benefits:
- Referrals – The main benefit is access to and a fair share of the referrals which are received via the CheapAccounting.co.uk web site each and every day.Referrals are shared out equally among franchisees who are taking them; at any one time there are usually less than three franchisees who are available to take referrals with the others working on client work or at full capacity with their client portfolio. So, there is always plenty to go around; being short of new referrals is not something we ever hear a complaint about; in fact the opposite is often true.We describe the referrals as “hot leads” in that each and every one of them comes to us; we don’t cold call, pay for leads, advertise or even spend a penny on Google Ad Words! All of our referrals are organically generated from our social media presence, content marketing and from existing clients. Most times when a referral comes to us they know what service they are looking to buy e.g. our fully supported, year end, basic, file only etc services. This all means that conversion rates are high given, of course, that you have the ability to engage with the referral, build their confidence in your abilities and convert them.
- Training – when you join the CheapAccounting.co.uk Franchise you will undertake some initial training. We take you through:
- business planning – so that we can understand what your Practice aspirations are which will allow us to help you achieve them
- a marketing plan where we’ll explore what, if any, (soft) marketing activities you may feel comfortable doing
- technical skills assessment where you’ll identify areas for development
- how to get set up and organised for your Practice addressing the back office and operational processes
- referrals handling practice including role playing
The training is delivered online and you work on it in your own time and at your own pace. We provide support as and when you need it. We find that this method works best as all of our franchisees come to us at different stages with different starting points, skills and expertise.
- Mentoring and coaching – we are on hand to help and guide you as you launch your CheapAccounting.co.uk Franchise offering support and guidance and as when you need it. No question is too dumb; we just say it’s dumb not to ask!
- Annual conference – each year we have a get together where we not only have updates on the important issues hitting the Accountancy Profession but have the opportunity to catch up, network and interact with the wider CheapAccounting.co.uk network. The event includes an overnight stay. Whilst there is a cost for this all of the Franchisees find that it is an invaluable event and worth the small financial outlay.
- Regular updates – throughout the year, important news and updates will be shared helping you to keep up to date with the ever changing world of accounts and tax.
- Part of the CheapAccounting.co.uk Network – you’ll be part of the CheapAccounting.co.uk Network meaning that you can draw on the plethora of skills, experience and expertise available from the other CheapAccounting.co.uk franchisees. There is always someone on hand to help out when you need it; not just with technical advice but input on standards, ethics or just to provide a substitute for when you are away. The CheapAccounting.co.uk Network gives you a place in a team that other sole practitioner accountants just do not have.
How long does the franchise agreement run for?
The agreement runs in perpetuity.
Are there any guarantees on the number of referrals, client numbers or sales?
This is a question that I am often asked and my answer is that I will never guarantee anything. I work very hard trying to balance demand from referrals with supply of franchisees available to take on the work. We find that franchisees fill up their capacity and become self generating, referral wise, after about 18 months to three years depending upon their aspirations and time availability in the business.
There are plenty of referrals to go around. If you put the effort in and are able to do the soft selling to convert the referrals then there is no reason why you should not build a successful business. I won’t give a guarantee because I don’t know how good you’ll be at selling, delivering and generally running your business!
That said what I will promise is that if after spending 12 months making appropriate efforts and being fully committed to building your CheapAccounting.co.uk franchise you are not happy with the return on your initial investment then I will return that in exchange for your client portfolio putting you back in the position at the start of the contract albeit with 12 months worth of experience.
I say this because I am certain that the “right person” will be more than able to cover their initial investment and should have a profitable business within that timeframe.
How do you apply for the new CheapAccounting.co.uk Franchise offering?
The first step in the process is to complete the simple application form and confidentiality agreement; you can find this on our web site (click here). You’ll need to return that to firstname.lastname@example.org.
What happens after you apply for the new CheapAccounting.co.uk Franchise offering?
To ensure that the values and reputation of CheapAccounting.co.uk are upheld, the recruitment of a new Franchisee into the Network involves a rigorous but fair application process.
On receipt of the signed Confidentiality Agreement and Application Form an initial telephone call and then a face-to-face a meeting will be held with the potential Franchisee to understand more about their background and interest in becoming a CheapAccounting.co.uk Franchisee.
Following this, if both parties feel that a good match has been achieved, the potential Franchisee will be sent a draft Franchise Agreement and invited to join the Network.
On receipt of the signed agreement and payment of the initial fees the Franchisee becomes a member of the CheapAccounting.co.uk Network.
At any time during this process an applicant can be refused entry to the network on the grounds that their application does not meet the standard required for a Franchisee.
Just to say that I am very proud of CheapAccounting.co.uk and our Network of franchisees. Overall we offer an excellent service to clients at a price they can afford with our accountants being responsive to the clients’ needs.
We’ve been around for some time now (launched in 2007) so we must be doing something right. The important thing for me is to maintain the excellent standard and formidable reputation that we have built up. If you have the right attitude to starting your Accountancy Practice and want to be part of our success then what are you waiting for?
Just do it!
Managing Director – CheapAccounting.co.uk