Franchisee: Ron Wood, Busselton
Franchisee Ron Wood, in Busselton WA achieved tax agent status in November 2016 under the Tax Practitioners Board, 8-Year Rule. Ron could have achieved tax agent status much sooner (likely within 2 years of joining the franchise), but he chose to meet the ‘experience’ criteria rather than the combined ‘qualification + experience’ criteria, which is a faster option.
Ron’s qualifications from the UK are known as ACWA and come from the old Cost and Works Accountant system.
We asked Ron to tell us his story, and journey as it is a great example of someone with a varied work background who had never worked in the tax industry, migrated, and purchased the franchise in his sixties.
Here’s Ron’s story
‘My first job after leaving Grammar school was at the Prestige Group UK as an office trainee, finishing up in the Cost Department as a Cost Clerk. This was probably my favourite place of work as the whole experience was fun – organising Cost Department trips & inter-departmental soccer and cricket games. There were over 500 employees working there and being American owned the company was right up to date and fully computerised in those far off days.
‘June and I thought either Canada or Australia would be good so we paid our 10 pounds and left for Australia, sailing out on the Fairsea. After six weeks at sea, we arrived in Fremantle, Western Australia the day prime minister, Harold Holt disappeared.
‘We left Fremantle for South Australia (I’d actually had a job lined up in Adelaide before I left the UK but it didn’t eventuate). The first guy we met in South Australia was a soccer coach at the end of the boat’s gangplank asking all of the men aged in their twenties if they played soccer. So I was paid to play soccer in SA – not good enough in the UK!
‘My jobs over the years included:
- Rainsford Metal Products Adelaide SA—Cost Accountant
- Hamersley Iron—Tom Price and Dampier—Site Accountant. (Tom Price was great then, as nearly the whole town’s population were about the same age so as you can imagine there was plenty of sport played and lasting friendships were established).
‘We left Tom Price and travelled round the top of Australia finishing in Mackay and I worked at Hay Point Mackay Queensland for two years as a Site Accountant.
‘As our parents back in the UK hadn’t seen their grandchildren, we left Australia to go back to the UK for a working holiday for a couple of years—I worked at Pandoro (P & O Roll on Roll off Ferries) Fleetwood, Lancashire. Good job, nice people, played lots of squash and I was in Ireland quite often which was a bit of a worry as the IRA were rampant then—but, oh the weather!
‘So then we left the UK, returned to Australia and settled in WA, where initially I worked for Alan Bond for four years—quite interesting as I was sent all over the place in WA.
‘During this time we established a newsagency in the Perth suburb of Heathridge whilst working at Bondcorp. We also established a video library in the same complex and we ran both for 10 years. Then we opened a few more video libraries in the northern suburbs—some good, some OK, some awful.
‘We sold the video business and established a Dymocks Books franchise in the then new Morley Galleria Shopping Centre. That wasn’t a good business venture as we were on the first floor of the centre and the rent was crippling. We sold that at a loss and bought a property in Rosa Brook (near Margaret River) with the intention of establishing a vineyard. That cost us dearly as the establishment was a big black hole soaking up money.
‘Following this we moved to the wheat-belt in WA and I went to work for the Shire of Kondinin as DCEO – money was excellent but the job was extremely uninteresting.
‘I also worked for Health Focus Pharmacy in Donnybrook for twelve months before pursuing a Success Tax Professionals franchise in 2008.
‘This was a career and lifestyle change. I was motivated to earn more by working for myself and to have June in the office with me.
‘I was interested in buying a client parcel to escalate my business and shortly after joining, the Franchisor sourced a bookkeeping practice which became available due to the owner retiring. Buying the fees from Julien (the former owner) was a good move as I had immediate clients and could now also offer them tax services through the Success Tax Professionals franchise. With the help of the Franchisor, the bookkeeping practice was rebranded to Success Tax Professionals and I actively worked to promote the benefits to the client base of moving their tax services across to me, to keep everything seamless and compliant.
‘Having achieved Tax Agent status now, I might look at qualifications for Financial Planning – my age may not let me (ha ha)!’
‘Ron truly is a great example of what is possible. I’ve known Ron since 2008, when he first joined us and I can say for certain that his willingness to invest in his business (in his case by buying clients), his commitment for attending our in-house training and his belief in his own abilities have all been strong factors in his achievement. Remember that Ron never originally came from a tax industry background and was in his sixties when he started with us. Ron never said, “I don’t know if I can do this, I’ll see how it goes.” There was never any hesitation or reluctance. He clearly wanted to be in business and took steps to achieve this with a focused attitude.
‘He very rarely missed a training session, and if he did—he had a very good reason. Quite a few of us recall the Perth heatwave when Ron drove the 250kms from Busselton to attend training in Perth, and near the venue tried to refuel his near empty 4WD which ran on gas, only to find this was not allowed until the 45oC day dropped below 35oC. He made it to training, much to the amusement of his franchisee colleagues who tried to keep his spirits up and offer support by staying back into the late hours of the evening, waiting for the temperature to come down, so he could refuel and make the trip back home. We of course all had a few wines and beers, but Ron had to stay ready for the intended journey. That’s support for you! Yes—it did finally come down at 11.30pm.
Commitment to your business is multifactorial. It definitely however involves being able to invest in your learning curve and your set-up. You can’t run this business without continuing to learn and you can’t run it from a tin shed in an industrial area because the rent is cheap.
Ron has invested in his learning, and also his set-up by buying clients. Buying clients is not the only option however, and is only possible if fees are available and the franchisee is financial and competitive for those fees. What is essential is being prepared to pay the required rent for a high exposure commercial office—and if you don’t do this on joining, you need to be able to do this within two years. The criteria concerning office location are the number one make or break factors to getting ahead, fast-tracking growth and being able to achieve enough experience to combine with your qualification, to meet tax agent status conditions.’
Franchisee Development Director
Franchisee: Danny Dinkha, NSW
‘I just wanted to say, the setback for myself in my first year was personal circumstances which were outside of my control and having an office suite instead of street frontage premises, however, we all tend to learn and grow from our mistakes.
‘I just wanted to say a massive thank you for being supportive, patient, and reminding me of my potential. It feels amazing to know that what I struggled to invoice last year to reach $10K is already achieved this year within the first month of the financial year!
‘I will drop you a line next week just to have a quick chat, but other than that, I am in great spirits and will continue to grow.
‘Once again, extremely grateful for everything you’ve done since my commencement.’
Here’s Danny Dinkha’s story as at August 2016.
Danny joined Success Tax Professionals in December 2014. Danny’s plan was to use the two year transition period available under the franchise to initially start out part-time from a transitional office, and to see clients on weekends, late afternoons and evenings. This would allow him to use available hours outside of his full-time job with a major bank, yet provide a commercial environment rather than using a home office or mobile services. As he would be part-time a ‘Fixed Office’ was neither practical nor cost effective as it would not be staffed full-time hours.
Danny went through Induction Training and commenced attending our in-house professional development programmes in Melbourne (which he currently still attends as a non-tax agent franchisee and for him involves travelling from Sydney three times a year to participate in the weekend seminars).
About eight weeks after joining, circumstances changed for Danny due to an unforeseen family event, and he found it difficult to put in the hours to develop his business as planned. All businesses require time and effort, and with a transitional office as they are typically low profile and lack visibility advertising and networking are significant requirements.
Due to his exceptional circumstances we offered Danny a period of leave from the franchise but he was determined to continue. Through arrangement, Danny achieved the first year performance target of $10,000. By the start of his second year in the franchise Danny’s family circumstances improved and he was pleased to be able to re-focus. We advised Danny that his transitional office was too secluded and not helping him gain clients. He agreed and as a result found a new location with street frontage sharing with a real estate agent, and the opportunity to install some branded signage. Additionally it included the opportunity for some cross referrals of business.
In consultation with Danny we designed the compliant artwork for the signage and it was installed in May 2016. Danny has experienced a significant improvement in business and is very comfortably on track for exceeding the second year performance target. He is also aiming for tax agent status by June 2017.