Interview with Dermot Kane, TaxAssist Accountants Dublin

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Name: Dermot Kane
Location: Camden Street, Dublin
Franchise: TaxAssist Accountants
Date launched the franchise: October 2010

Tell us a bit about yourself and what you were doing prior to buying your TaxAssist Accountants franchise business?
I had been in practice many years previously, but was in industry for maybe 12-13 years prior to TA. I worked as Finance Director in a Plant and Machinery company. The market became so poor in this area, like in many others in the recession, that the company could no longer really afford a dedicated financial accountant.

Why did you go down the franchise route? And why did you choose a TaxAssist Accountants franchise?
I had always been an employee of a company. Felt a little nervous about starting on my own. Also had a feeling it just wouldn’t work. TaxAssist offered the technical support needed, but more importantly, knowledge of how to sell in the marketplace. This covers things like shop location and design, as well as getting me leads to get going. It seemed like a perfect fit.

How did you raise the finance?
Luckily, I was made redundant, and had funds from that, so didn’t need to raise bank finance.

What training and support did you receive initially and ongoing?
The training is excellent. Courses are run to suit the needs of the franchisees, and picked based on what is being suggested from questions to the Helpdesk. Initially, the training on Sales and Marketing gave a real boost in terms of the process involved, and the confidence and tools to use that process. It was an essential element at the start of my business.

What challenges have you faced?
Certainly the first 2-3 years leave you fairly tight on funds depending on how you started off. I started with no clients, and not much money left after the initial franchise costs. It takes time to make the business work from this starting point. I understand the banks are supportive of the TA franchise. This is important, as there are times when some extra capital is required. The other continuous financial challenge is regulating your cash flow so that you can survive until income tax deadline, when there is a bit of an injection.
Staff recruitment is also a difficult area – both in terms of being able to afford so that you can continue to develop the business, and also in terms of just getting a suitable person. This remains a challenge.

Has becoming a franchisee changed your life, if so how?
I mightn’t have put it like that, but I suppose it has. Being your own boss – it does give a lot of satisfaction. I find I can be slightly flexible in my hours so I don’t need to miss things like kid’s matches or shows. There are plenty of hours in the week to get the work done.
Knowing that when you put in the work, you get the rewards. That is a great feeling.

What is the most invaluable piece of advice you could give someone looking to buy their first franchise?
Have the finance in place. Don’t be afraid to recruit someone early, so that you can get on with the job of winning business. Go for a shopfront at the start. It is going to be necessary anyway. You might as well get a flying start. As early as possible in the business, funds allowing, try to get someone on board that can take a job more or less from start to finish. Again, takes the pressure off. This may take a year or two, so don’t worry if not top of the list. Listen to the franchisor. They advise well. The service is there for you to use. You are paying for it.

In your opinion, what makes a successful franchisee?
Someone who likes to work hard, who relates well with people and wants to do their best for the clients. Outgoing and happy to develop a good relationship with staff. No harm to have sufficient funds at the start so that life outside of work is not too difficult. A good marketer will be a good franchisee, although that is an area I am not too good on. I have survived without that particular skill though it is easier to push yourself in that direction.

What are your plans for the future?
At the moment, I am happy where I am as part of the group. I am with TA 6.5 years, and continue to grow every single month. That’s 78 months of growth. Some very small, others a bit better. It feels like a secure business now.

Down the road, I may look at opening another shop in my area.

Franchise: Go to TaxAssist Accountants page