Going in to practice via franchise

Melody87 Registered Posts: 44 ? ? ?
Hi everyone,

Just wanted some opinions on the pros and cons of this really. I have only my project to do before becoming qualified and would really like to be able to jump in to starting my own practice. I have seen some good things said about cheapaccounting.co.uk and I'm wondering if it's worth the money.

Ideally if I were to pay out for a franchise I would like earnings to climb quickly as I wouldn't be able to do it aside my job.
My other option is to set up and slowly and get more clients whilst reducing my work hours.

I think the second option is safer but it would be nice to be able to put all my effort in straight away!

Has anyone else on here taken the plunge with Cheap Accounting?

Thanks for your advice


  • Monsoon
    Monsoon FMAAT, AAT Licensed Accountant Posts: 4,071 ? ? ?
    When I saw this thread title, I was going to say "the only franchise you should consider is CheapAccounting." :)

    I've known Elaine online for years and while I have no experience of the franchise, I can honestly say her hard work and dedication is something we could all aspire to - she's built something very successful. She's also tailored packages for newly qualified AAT folk (which was very good of her) and I know her quality standards are very high.

    Ultimately, I would say it's a lot of money, as any franchise is, and you could do a lot of CPD and marketing for that money. However, the CheapAccounting brand is very strong and I think getting work via it is a big positive. It is up to you whether you want to fork out for the helping hand, or whether you think you can go it alone with a mentor. You've already identified your needs in terms of time and income as well. I would want to speak to other franchisees to find out realistic earnings potential in the timeframe you need.

    It also depends what kind of style you have and what kind of earnings and business desires you have.

    I would guess that you can make good money as a franchisee, but to make Really good money you would have to employ staff and really build a business where they are doing a lot of the technical work. Do you want that? Or do you just want to have a job with you as your own boss?

    As I'm sure you are aware, the fee structure of the CA brand is a volume game which is why having streamlined systems would be essential. If I was going to operate it, I would definitely want to factor in employing staff into my medium term goals.

    it also depends what you define as good money. £30k? £50k? £100k?

    Also remember if you have little experience, you can get mentoring through CA but you will pay for the privilege. You might want to consider being a solo MIP with a mentor until you have enough experience to get a standard franchise not a mentored one. If you can get an AAT mentor it's free, but probably won't be as structured. I'm sure you get value for money with Elaine's mentoring but do fnd out what you get for your money.

    Whatever route you choose, do a business plan before committing to anything. I would do a plan for both options to really plan it out.

    Good luck!
  • EMPG
    EMPG Registered Posts: 20 Dedicated contributor ? ? ?
    Hi Melody,

    After I finished AAT I really wanted to go solo but as I did not have appropriate experience I thought this would be a big mistake. I then thought to go via franchise to have that support and training that I probably need as a newbie with no experience. However did not take me to long to decide to not do it.
    First of all is the money up front you need to give, I dont have it and I dont want to take a credit for that and honestly if I take a credit for that I rather do it for my own business.
    The second reason I decided not to even enquiry is the fact that at the end of the day you still, somehow, "working under somebody else rules". The reason I would like to be a MIP one day is because I want to impose my own ethics, values and managerial system in MY business; I am not good at people telling how to do things.
    Also, the money I earn I want it to be all mine, there is more satisfaction on that.
    Try to go slow, gradually reduce your employment hours and start working solo part time. Ensure you have the experiencce to provide certain level of service that will give you the profts that you need - and think about the money carefully - and as Moonson said, do your business plan, think how far you want to go between 2 to 5 years time and forecast a good first 2 years cashflow.

    Good luck with any decission you take!
  • lor
    lor Registered Posts: 68 ? ? ?
    Hi there,

    I am in a similar position, have managed to build my practice up to about a 1/4 of the income of which I have desired to earn, therefore still a while to go yet. I have asked my boss to have my hours cut back as I feel that I would still be able to do my job in that amount of time.

    He has refused saying "I'm not here to help you personally, all I think about is the business", this has kinda messed up my plans. But I may be soon looking for part-time work somewhere else, as I don't want to make the leap in one go!. :001_smile:

    Although it would had been nice for him to say yes and has annoyed me a little!
  • lor
    lor Registered Posts: 68 ? ? ?
    Cheap Accounting!

    Just had a look at Cheap Accounting, as was tempted, but is way more than I would like to invest and could afford to invest in - but sure it would be good if it felt right for you and you have the initial investment.
  • Melody87
    Melody87 Registered Posts: 44 ? ? ?
    Thanks everyone for your advice :) I just want to be my own boss really, and i'm not particularly greedy I would be more than happy with a target of £30000, I only earn 13000 at the moment so I don't need a lot :D

    I know the cost of the franchise sounds a lot but it really isn't as far as the average franchise goes I would just borrow from the bank.

    I think I will have a chat with them anyway but I think the idea of waiting until I get my MIP licence is a better one, I'm not sure there would be much profit after the mentoring fees!

    Is there anyone who has gone down the franchisee route that is happy to comment on it?

  • deanshepherd
    deanshepherd Registered Posts: 1,809
    I am not against franchising per se, I do have a franchisee of my own, but I would say don't get trapped in a franchise model that is not where you want to be long term.

    I think cheapaccounting is a great short term model. Elaine is great at getting new clients in and I am sure you would see your franchise grow quickly. However, when you are working 50 hour weeks servicing your clients just to get your £30k of income at some point you are going to begrudge going down the 'cheap' route.

    I would say with any franchise the first thing you should do is check the exit strategy. What happens when you want to retire? What happens if you want to leave because it isn't working out for you?

    If there is an exit solution that isn't going to be too painful then by all means go that route, use it to learn about practice, customers, and develop your skills then, if you are ready, you can break free and do your own thing.

    Be aware that most franchises place heavy exit restrictions. Some only allow you to sell your client base to other franchisees at a considerable discount others havn't even considered the scenario of you leaving and retain rights to all your clients should you walk away.

    Get those details clear from the outset.
  • cheapaccounting
    cheapaccounting Registered Posts: 77 ? ? ?
    an update from CheapAccounting.co.uk :-)

    Hi all
    Hope you don’t mind me replying here.

    I guess the proof on value for money etc always comes best from those that have been there, done it and got the Tee Shirt so to speak. So I have asked a copy of AAT’s to pop over and share their experiences with you.

    If anyone wants to chat further – do feel free to give me or Nigel (our Training and Mentoring Director) a call.

    I would add that there are many things to consider when starting your own practice not just income today but also building the value in the business if / when you come to sell it as well as the ongoing support that we all need when running a business.

    Being a sole practitioner can be a lonely place to be.

    Good luck to anyone who is staring out down the route of operating your own Practice.
  • cheapaccounting
    cheapaccounting Registered Posts: 77 ? ? ?
    I think cheapaccounting is a great short term model. Elaine is great at getting new clients in and I am sure you would see your franchise grow quickly. However, when you are working 50 hour weeks servicing your clients just to get your £30k of income at some point you are going to begrudge going down the 'cheap' route.

    LOL - I don't think I could get anyone to work a 50 hour week for £30k / year.

    I do have to point out that this info is inacccurate - I am not sure the source.

    Always happy to discuss further and I guess I am the one that does have all the facts to hand :-)
  • deanshepherd
    deanshepherd Registered Posts: 1,809
    The source is your website, Elaine.

    £19.99 per month for sole-traders and £29.99 for small companies means you would need at least 125 clients to have a chance of making £30k profit.

    I have 84 clients and two part-time members of staff to help me. Even if I could manage 125 on my own I would want a much better return than £30k.
  • RAS
    RAS Registered Posts: 124 ? ? ?
    Dean makes a good point. At those rates, seems a lot of clients for just £30k.
  • cheapaccounting
    cheapaccounting Registered Posts: 77 ? ? ?
    I think the problem here is that Dean’s assumptions and presumably business model are very different to ours. A typical CheapAccounting Franchisee would not need 2 part time staff to deal with 84 clients.

    We are open and honest with ALL franchisees that join us and very happy to discuss in detail the facts and figures of how and why our model works with any serious enquirers and answer any questions they have, but you will appreciate that there is a limit to the detail I feel comfortable discussing on a public forum.

    Enjoy the rest of your weekend everyone :-)
  • Bolt
    Bolt Registered Posts: 1 New contributor ?
    A view from a CA Franchisee

    I am a CheapAccounting Franchisee and have been so for over a year now. I can honestly say that without CheapAccounting I would not be as far along with my business as I am. My business has grown exponentially and I have excellent clients which are quite varied. The support of the network has also been fantastic, from basic questions to quite detailed discussions.

    I would say that the best people to talk to about this are the CheapAccounting people. Elaine is very upfront and honest and sets realistic expectations. You can have a chat with her and also chat with one of us before making your decision. With respect to some of the contributors on here, the comments have been made based on assumptions without actually being a franchisee and without understanding the business model.

    Whilst you are operating under and supporting the CheapAccounting brand, at the end of the day it is your business so you still have the independence of running your own business, and deciding how and at what pace you would like it to progress.

    Elaine has worked very hard to build the brand which, as franchisees, we are able to take advantage of.

    The proof of how well it works is how well CheapAccounting as a brand is doing, how many Franchisees are joining and how quickly the franchise has grown since Elaine started it.

    I hope that helps!:001_smile:

    Karen Taylor
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