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the higher their fee. This fee model rewards accountants for their inefficiency. Some accountants will agree fixed fees based on what they estimate the time required. This provides you with certainty over your costs and ensures your accountant covers the cost of inefficiencies.

Can I talk to some of your clients to take references? When appointing any professional

adviser you should take up client references. Speaking to other clients will give you more than a feel for whether they are good or not (references are only likely to be for happy clients anyway). Speaking to other clients will give you a feel for other things, like what response times are like, how friendly they are, do they stick to their fixed fees, or ask for additional fees, what are the staff like (you will probably initially meet the partner, but it is the staff that you have most dealings with).

What if it all goes wrong? Everyone going into business does so with the highest expectations, but you need to consider the possibility of failure. Your accountant should be able to assist you in structuring the business to your advantage.

A limited company rather than being a sole trader is a useful start, and advise you on the implications of the various agreements you are signing such as personal guarantees or security for bank loans. If it does go wrong, you need to know that you can still survive and you don’t lose more than you intended to risk.

Can you assess the quality of the franchise? See the first question. This one issue

is so important it goes in twice. Going into business is a huge step and you want to ensure you have the best chance of success. If your accountant is not able to assist

you in deciding whether the franchise you are looking at is a good opportunity, you need to find another accountant. There are many good quality franchises

available, but there are also many less reputable franchises which haven’t proven their business model sufficiently to justify franchising. However, they still offer franchises in order to take money upfront from people. Be very careful in selecting your franchise and good luck.

WPA franchisee’s customer care makes him a winner

● Uel Campbell (left) receives his Franchisee of the Year award from Berkeley Harris.

AS the Belfast and South Antrim franchisee of healthcare insurance provider, Western Provident Association (WPA), Uel Campbell has found that the business provides him with both a very satisfying lifestyle and a healthy income. He recalls: “I started the business in 2009 with no customers. Now I have 400 and plan to double the number in the next three years. The client portfolio includes local businesses, the self-employed, and personal customers. My growth contributed to WPA’s overall expansion of almost 9 per cent last year. “It’s been hard work, but I love meeting people and every time a customer says yes, my day is made.” He attributes his success to his enthusiastic, customer-friendly approach. “I always try to do my best for every customer each time I see them,” he explains. “It helps bring in new business because satisfied customers recommend my services.”

His dedication to customer care

recently led to him becoming Franchisee of the Year at the WPA annual franchisee conference at the National Exhibition Centre, Birmingham.

The judges commented on how

well he takes care of his customer base - something to which his customers can testify - and his focus on introducing new customers to the benefits of having WPA policies. Campbell’s enthusiasm has paid off

24 April/May 2013 i

financially. He earns around £40,000 a year and this will increase as he moves towards his target of 1,000 customers.

He has developed his business by becoming the local health insurance expert. “I attend all the local business networking events, breakfast meetings and dinners, and after working hours, I network online,” he says. “It all means that local business people know where to find me.”

Customer needs It helps that he understands the

problems that small businesses face. “WPA recognises the needs of the

self-employed, and I understand them personally,” he continues. “When you are self-employed if you are unable to work there is no food on the table, and when you are ill you need to have control of the recovery of your health. These are areas in which a WPA policy will help.” A former banker and financial advisor Campbell chose a WPA franchise when he wanted to set up his own business. “My financial services experience told me that its policies were competitive and saleable, and the more I investigated the company the more I liked its ethical approach. They actually want to pay claims!” Berkeley Harris, director of the

WPA national franchise team, says: “As Franchisee of the Year, Uel is this year’s WPA’s ambassador. I hope to recruit more franchisees like him throughout the country.” The WPA franchise requires an

investment of £9,200 (including VAT) plus a £2,500 returnable fidelity bond.


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