The attitude of the senior players at London & Zurich was both welcoming and refreshing.
Karl Sandall, Group Chief Executive
Direct Debit solution for accountants adds up to strategic partnership.
TaxAssist Accountants, the franchise network that offers first class professional accountancy services to small businesses, has deployed secure Direct Debit collection facilities from London & Zurich since 2007.
During this period TaxAssist Accountants’ network has grown to 300 offices across the UK. “From a standing start in 1995 our franchise network has enjoyed consistent growth, so today we have more than 200 franchisees with over 70,000 clients,” says Phil Sullivan, TaxAssist Accountants’ Group Finance Director. “That level of expansion is gratifying but requires effective support staff with robust systems and processes to underpin delivery, success and continuing ambitions.
“Accountants who successfully apply to take on our franchise and meet the stringent criteria continue to operate as small businesses while enjoying the benefits of being part of a larger, established group offering back-office infrastructure and a road map for success including a respected brand and associated collateral.”
Phil’s comments are echoed by Karl Sandall, Group Chief Executive Director, who adds: “We recognised that franchisees would want to focus on advising clients and growing their businesses rather than becoming mired in chasing payment of invoices and so we set ourselves the task of sourcing a Direct Debit solution. It has to be said that we were surprised when the banks – our first port of call – showed little interest in us but I suppose it was still early days for TaxAssist, so we spread our net. I am delighted to say that we found London & Zurich through an introduction by our franchisee in Weston-Super-Mare.”
“The attitude of the senior players at London & Zurich was both welcoming and refreshing. They scrutinised our business to ensure that we measured up to their ￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼benchmarks, a process not too dissimilar from when we consider aspiring franchisees. The outcome was not only positive but the team at London & Zurich had also taken on board the few administrative issues some of our franchisees could face and offered us a Direct Debit system that was, to all intents and purposes, bespoke.”
London & Zurich’s Direct Debit package offers clients such as TaxAssist Accountants a secure, cost-effective and quick means of payment collection and processing, allowing for predictable, managed cash-flow. The premium service system provided to TaxAssist Accountants is multi-tiered in that TaxAssist collects fees from the franchisees via the system and the franchisees in turn collect the fees from their clients via the system too.
“We provided TaxAssist Accountants with a cloud-based portal for the system and the TaxAssist intranet features a London & Zurich landing page,” explains Kevin Morgan, London & Zurich General Manager. “Each of the 200 franchisees has his or her unique, protected access to the system and, once logged on, funds can be collected from their clients and franchise fees paid to TaxAssist all via Bacs.”
“We have also provided a Service User Number (SUN) to TaxAssist Accountants, which is what the banks offer to those organisations that meet their prescriptive requirements.”
“Our bank provides a SUN to us which we then offer to those businesses, like TaxAssist, that meet our criteria. We were impressed with the vision of the TaxAssist Accountants’ model and so we enable its SUN to carry the recognisable blue and yellow brand, which I believe further enhances the franchisees’ perception of the business.”
The benefits of London & Zurich’s secure Direct Debit collections systems are obvious. The franchisees are able to offer to spread their fees out over a number of pre-agreed payments per month, so making life easier for their clients.
The franchisees can also predict and manage their cash flow which supports their business. In addition, they neither need to devote time and money to making phone calls to chase payments – which can erode the customer relationship and retention – nor are they tied up with administration and paperwork. TaxAssist Accountants for its part is able to collect the franchisees’ fees with little or no effort which frees the management team up to focus upon providing outstanding services to its network and expanding its UK footprint.
There is yet another level in the relationship, in that TaxAssist Accountants, its franchisees and their clients can participate in the London & Zurich referral scheme. Should these parties identify an organisation that could successfully deploy the London & Zurich Direct Debit system they receive a commission and thus boost their revenue.
“The TaxAssist Accountants’ business plan anticipates a total UK franchise population of over 400,” continues Phil Sullivan. “New franchisees will be expected to engage with the London & Zurich Direct Debit offering as part of the agreement. I suppose that there may be a few who could have smaller clients still looking to pay by cheque but the majority will be able to enjoy the business benefits and peace of mind from day one.
“We can depend absolutely upon London & Zurich working with us so that the Direct Debit platform readily accommodates the increased demand from us as the franchisor and from new franchisees looking to collect from their clients. We are a forward-looking ambitious company and, to my mind it is that sort of close relationship which elevates London & Zurich to the position of a strategic partner rather than simply a member of the supply chain.”
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