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Lessons from a bookkeeping franchisee

Posted 5 years ago in Bookkeepers by Eric Mah
Posted by Eric Mah

I’d like to relate my past experiences as a bookkeeping franchisee before I joined Xero, and the lessons I learnt.

I chose to start my bookkeeping business through a franchise because the system made it so easy. The hard yards are already done so you don’t have to spend time figuring out how to start.

My franchise of choice at that time was Jim’s Bookkeeping. I met their CEO John Birse at a franchise expo and he was very approachable. That was my first lesson – make sure whichever franchise you buy into, that the franchisor is approachable and has systems in place. If they are not and don’t have systems in place, it will be harder for you to be motivated in your business.

John also mentored me through the first years. Second lesson – find a great mentor (whether its another more experienced bookkeeper or a successful business owner). You will learn a lot quicker.

Third lesson – being self-employed can be a lonely venture. So network with other franchisees and tap into the knowledge of all those people that have been in the industry for a while. I do exactly the same thing here at Xero. I continually increase my knowledge by asking the other Account Managers questions.

Fourth lesson – always put aside time regularly to do further training. You will always have an excuse to work, but training is as important as earning the bucks. Training helps you find efficiencies in your processes. An example could be that learning more about how to use Xero adds efficiencies in the client’s accounting system and opportunities to work more remotely.

Fifth lesson – leverage your time. Fixed fee proposals will give you the opportunity (when done right) to leverage your time. It is in the client’s interest for you to continually find efficiencies in the accounting system and if you charge by time, then you are more reluctant to do that. Xero accounting software gives you the ability to leverage your time by reducing your data entry time and increases your high value work – a win for the client and for you.

Sixth and final lesson – position yourself and treat your client as joint partners in improving their business. Bookkeeping is an investment, not an expense. When you position yourself this way, the client will value you more and not see you as just a data entry person they hired. Taking the role as financial adviser in Xero  gives you the ability to publish management reports in Xero in a timely manner and provide feedback to the client, collaborating on key drivers that will improve their business.

At the end of the day, having spoken with many successful franchisees in the past, one final thought is – don’t blame the system for your failures if you have not followed the system.

I invite you to find out how being a Xero partner and using Xero for your clients will improve your business.



March 19, 2013 at 1.19 pm

I think your last piece of advice is spot on for any franchisee – bookkeeping industry or otherwise. “Don’t blame the system for your failures if you have not followed the system”. If you think you know better than to follow the franchise system, don’t buy a franchise!!

John Birse
March 19, 2013 at 2.23 pm

It’s great to see the career path that exists in our industry and that Xero have recognised the importance of having account managers such as Eric who have experience in running their own bookkeeping business. It has also been great to see Xero at the ICB roadshow around Australia helping bookkeepers get the best from their accounting software.

Justin Campbell
March 20, 2013 at 12.56 am

Great post!

buhalterine apskaita vilniuje
May 28, 2013 at 11.43 pm

Thank you for sharing your experience of bookkeeping secrets.

Myra Ebdon
October 28, 2013 at 10.40 pm

That is a good one. I totally agree 🙂

December 23, 2014 at 1.14 am

Great article, thanks for sharing your experience.

Jean Stone
April 17, 2017 at 11.30 pm

After 11 years as a Jim’s Bookkeeper, hopefully I have learnt some important lessons too. Thank you for sharing.

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