Little Kickers’ goal is to provide every pre-school child with a positive introduction to sport and become the market leader in the pre-school football sector worldwide.

After completing his degree in sports development, Kieran Townsend started working for the Little Kickers franchise based in Reading. After some time as a coach and then operations manager, the Oxford franchise came up for sale and for Kieran, it was game on!

Kieran joined Little Kickers as a franchisee six years ago and since then has expanded, now employing up to 20 coaches and running more than 40 hours of sessions per week in Oxford, West Oxford and Aylesbury. This year, Kieran was recognised for his hard work and skill in developing the franchise and was named as Little Kickers Franchisee of the Year.

Kieran confirms: “I love teaching and coaching, but I also enjoy the business development side of the franchise. I like the creative aspect of planning classes and coming up with new ideas that add value too. This might be setting up a holiday club or introducing sticker books. Anything that’s fun and adds to the experience for our Little Kickers.

“Like many people who are passionate about running their own businesses and ‘doing the day job’ I find the accounting side of the franchise a little more challenging! Therefore, to avoid being bogged down by the numbers and potentially dropping the ball, I have been pleased to team-up with chartered accountants and business advisory firm d&t for the past five years.

“d&t works with many franchise companies and also around 35 Little Kickers franchisees in the UK, so they understand our business really well. Initially, they did my end of year accounts but as the franchise has grown, d&t now manage my bookkeeping, payroll, management accounts, personal accounting and more recently have helped me with business planning.

“Creating a workable business plan to help me develop my franchise has been a productive experience. It’s more than just about kicking the details into-touch. It’s about knowing exactly where the goal posts are having a clear game-plan.

“We started by discussing aims and aspirations in terms of numbers of children I wanted the franchise to reach and how many per class and by when. Then d&t took this information and worked backwards to factor in ongoing costs, overheads and day-to-day running costs. Following more discussion, d&t then built a plan and timeline from there.

“As each element was created, it was sent to me to check and make sure it was realistic and then any adjustments made. The final plan includes P&L, cashflow forecast and balance sheets for the next three years. Once completed, d&t went through the workings with me, so I can understand the background and I can see the levels of growth, numbers of children and classes needed to hit targets. The plan also indicates the number of coaches I need and when I can hire more. Recently I’ve been able to hire an admin assistant safe in the knowledge the business had reached the appropriate size to support this. d&t also showed me how to integrate the plan with my Xero accounting software so it becomes like a budget. Having an automated payment system really streamlines bookings too.

“The plan plus my quarterly management accounts now means I can monitor and keep track of business development easily. It means I’m in a good position to plan-ahead and expand. It also allows me to benchmark where I am at any point in the year and what I need to achieve to keep in-line with the end game.

d&t have been great to work with, Steve Lloyd and Lindsey Morley are my main contacts and I’ve worked with Laura Williams and Renata Selley who were really helpful. They are all knowledgeable and offer an experienced perspective on any ideas, all from a number crunching background. The payroll team are great too.

As a business owner you cannot be expected to be an expert in every aspect of running a franchise and so working with d&t has helped me play to my strengths while knowing they will defend the numbers! I am always happy to recommend d&t’s services. The team at d&t have been instrumental to the success of my franchise so far and will continue to provide support from the bench as I grow.”

Visiting Angels has been providing care across the world for 20 years. The business has been built on recruiting, training and supporting the very best caregivers and enabling them to deliver premium quality homecare. Visiting Angels now has around 630 franchisees world-wide and first started providing care services in the UK three years ago.

Dan Archer (Managing Director) Visiting Angels explains: “At Visiting Angels we put carers at the centre of our business to make sure they can deliver a truly person-centred service to families. Our aim is to be the UK care sector employer of choice by 2022. In order to achieve this goal, we work with and support franchisees who can deliver our care-centric vision on a local level, to provide an overall better level of care.

“Our franchisees are “people-people”. They are resilient and good team managers who are passionate about rallying against poor care treatment. They are commercially aware yes, but they are driven to give the very best care.

“There are around 10,000 people in the UK needing care services. However, there is a shortage of quality care providers. We currently have five franchisees in the UK and are looking at recruiting a further ten in 2020 and more after that. To support our franchisees and their teams of caregivers, it is essential that we provide the best training and support and accountancy services comes into that.

“I was first introduced to Carl Reader, chairman of d&t when I was working on other projects way back in 2010! As chartered accountants and business advisors to the franchise industry, d&t’s staff have a wealth of expertise and experience in managing the accounts for franchise organisations and their franchisees. Therefore, when I first set up the pilot business for Visiting Angels in Sheffield three years ago, hiring d&t to look after the accounts, bookkeeping and payroll was a logical step.

“Working with d&t is like a partnership. They come along to our franchisee induction training and answer questions about how best to set up accounting systems. This is really helpful for new franchisees who have often never been self-employed before. d&t offer guidance and support right at the outset. There is no obligation for any of our franchisees to work with d&t on an ongoing basis, but so far, they have all chosen to use d&t for their standard accounting work, including: year end, corporation tax and company accounts.

“We also subscribe to Xero through d&t, which is a cloud accounting software package. In Sheffield for example, we typically work with 70 private clients delivering between two-three thousand hours of care services per month. The software we use, logs the calls and this digital information integrates with our scheduling system and into Xero so the correct charges are made. Previously, I had tried an alternative application which didn’t work, so d&t advised on the switch and this provided a practical, simple solution to keep track of work and invoicing.

“This is a clear example of how d&t’s team is focused on coming up with the best possible outcome for all involved. As our franchisees’ business grow and mature, it is important our accountancy practice understands how we need to mitigate risk against profit and continue to provide the very best care services available. d&t also recognises the important relationship between franchisee and franchisor and how this needs to be nurtured, maintained and strengthened by working together to create a better business for the future.

“In short, d&t’s insight into the franchise industry means they can provide a better, more economical service and a greater level of support for Visiting Angels’ franchisees than a traditional accountant. They add value by taking care of the numbers, leaving us to focus on the people looking after our client families and providing the best carer-centric service available.”

WorkBuzz provides franchise satisfaction and employee engagement surveys for around 200 franchise brands including 18 of the top 25 franchisors in the UK, plus many other companies outside of franchising, like Shell Energy and The Royal British Legion.

WorkBuzz has developed technology that enables companies to run highly customised surveys and receive their feedback and analytics within minutes of these closing. Survey results can be segmented by demographics like, seniority, location and more to understand what truly makes people tick. Proprietary algorithms also pinpoint what factors engage an organisation’s talent the most, which required a significant degree of research and development (R&D).

Using WorkBuzz’ tools, organisations can make smarter people decisions, improve performance and retain their best talent by gaining unique insight into their workforce. Existing clients have improved employee retention by up to 20%.

WorkBuzz’ FY19 project focused on developing a new “smart” engagement platform, which would combine the best features of available solutions – highly customisable survey dashboards; automated trending; the ability to reach both online and offline employees through multiple channels and provide real-time feedback.

These new dashboards go beyond merely reporting feedback in real-time. Sophisticated algorithms review and analyse survey responses and identify what factors contribute to employee engagement and retention the most for the client (and different types of employees they have), with nudges to help managers act on their feedback. Over time and with more data, the WorkBuzz platform learns about a client’s culture and optimises these recommendations.

Leading accountancy and business advisory firm d&t has managed WorkBuzz’ accounts since they started up in the 2011.

Steven Frost, CEO WorkBuzz explains: “We have a great working relationship with d&t. Carl Reader, d&t’s chairman provided us with good advice in the early days when we first broke into the franchise sector. He’s also been able to make introductions to contacts in the US. The team at d&t do all our end of year accounting plus payroll and have more recently, been able to guide us in relation to raising external finance. d&t also use WorkBuzz to help them track and improve their culture.

“However, one area where d&t has really been able to make a valuable additional contribution to our business this year, is in relation to HMRC R&D tax relief. This R&D tax relief is designed to support companies that work on innovative projects in science and technology and can be claimed by those that seek to research or develop an advance in their field. Precisely what we are doing! We had originally used a specialist firm which offered a 99% success rate for claiming R&D tax relief, but they charged 20% of the rebate as fee and so this year, d&t was able to provide an alternative option which reduced this by half.

“We worked together with Richard McDermott, head of tax at d&t to submit a technical report outlining the R&D work which was undertaken on the new platform. This was a detailed document illustrating how we faced and overcame the technical uncertainties and how we eventually delivered our propriety algorithms to finalise the platform.

“Richard helped guide us through the process, evidence and maximise our claim, while keeping us updated throughout the entire process. The result was that we secured a tax credit of £63k! We received this substantial tax rebate about three months earlier than for last year as d&t were able to work so efficiently and quickly.

“By working with d&t over the years, we have developed a real partnership. The team are friendly, accessible and we trust their advice. They add value to our business not just numbers!

Any franchisor or business investing in R&D needs to speak with d&t – you can’t afford not to.”