By Peter Saunders
TaxAssist Accountants, a financial-services franchise network in the U.K. and Ireland, recently launched a recruitment drive across the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) as part of a plan for international growth. Leading the effort to sign Canadian franchisees is Rina Mancini (pictured), who purchased a regional master franchising licence at the beginning of 2014 and plans to build a team of up to 60 franchisees over the next five years.
TaxAssist was founded in the U.K. in 1995 and reached Ireland in 2009. Its current ambitious international expansion follows a franchisee-assisted management buyout, with more than half of its existing 190 franchisees buying shares in the company. TaxAssist plans to sign up more master franchisees in Ontario, as well as British Columbia, Alberta and Quebec, and will target the U.S., Australia and New Zealand for future expansion. For now, though, Mancini’s GTA territory represents a significant first step.
From corporate to franchising
Mancini previously held senior executive positions with Manulife Bank Canada, Equifax and Sears Canada Bank, among other financial services organizations. Her corporate background gave her extensive experience in management, leadership, strategy, business planning and finance.
She exited the corporate world five years ago and did some consulting and contract work before actively pursuing a dream of owning a business.
“I left the corporate world when I was ready to do so,” she says. “I miss working with a lot of people, but I don’t miss the restrictions of being in an office at a certain time every day and dealing with traffic. I wanted the ability to control my own destiny.”
This desire led Mancini to the world of franchising.
“As I started to research various franchises, however, none was a good fit,” she says. “I was looking for a business-to-business (B2B) opportunity, but many of them were food-service franchises, didn’t offer the right territory or only promised a small, one-unit operation that wouldn’t challenge me enough.”
Eventually, her research led her to the TaxAssist system.
“In April 2013, they were advertising for Canadian master franchisees,” she explains. “They weren’t looking for accountants per se, but for leaders and managers. I talked to the team in the U.K. and felt I could transfer my skills successfully.”
Initially, TaxAssist was hoping to sign up master franchisees who would open an initial ‘pilot’ location, operate it for six months and then start to look for franchisees. Since Mancini is not an accountant herself, however, she says she didn’t want to become too distracted by running the pilot location rather than focusing on developing the network of new franchisees.
“I wanted to use my management and leadership skills to grow the business,” she explains. “Fortunately, the U.K. team agreed.”