Tom Page from ServiceMaster Brands UK sits down with ‘paperwork queen’ Karen Mann, the accountancy professional bringing Rosemary Bookkeeping services to North Dorset and Salisbury.
Some of these things are merely semiotic: our conversation is conducted virtually, with Karen in her home in Dorset and I, in mine, miles away in Leicester.
And yet, there is still a palpable sense of excitement in the air. Karen, who is backed by a shelving unit filled with family photo frames and dressed smartly in a blazer and orange blouse as a subtle compliment to the branding of her new business, is quietly content.
As we start our discussion of her life and her brand-new fresh start, it becomes abundantly clear as to why.
From a young age, Karen loved figures, paperwork and numbers. She says when she was at school she always thought about being an accountant. But life took her on a different path.
On her work background:
“I’ve been working for a waste management company for the last 17 years.
I started in their customer service department and, within nine months, I was promoted to running their accounts office.
I was what they used to call an Office Manager overseeing everything. Nearly eight years ago now, our financial director retired and I was offered the opportunity to become a company director.
So, for the last seven and a half years, I’ve been the Administrative Director for the company, running the accounts side of the business.”
What did that involve?
“All administration, liaising with the accountant, doing the management accounts and sending it all off to him for him to validate and everything like that.”
On her personal life:
“I like playing golf. But I’m not necessarily very good [laughs].
And I’ve got a boxer dog that I’m absolutely mad about.” Her face softens, “She’s my lil’ baby.”
You’ve got a lot of really valuable professional experience. How do you think that has prepared you to start your own business?
“I’ve got the technical knowledge, which is going to help with the actual day-to-day in the business. But what I’ve also gained over the years is managing my time properly.
I had a team just before COVID, there were 25 people in my team reporting to me, so I’m used to the trials and tribulations of organising other people’s work and making sure that they’re performing to expectations and spotting when people aren’t.
I was able to pick up with them whether they’ve lost confidence in something they’re doing, whether they need further training and all that kind of thing.
I also worked very closely with the chairman and managing director of the company and was involved in conversations about marketing and different avenues to go down to sales.
So, even though I might not have done it myself, I have been around it so by osmosis, it’s gone in.”
What made you decide to make the change and start your own business?
“I had been working for the same company for 17 years and it just felt that now it was my time to do something for myself.
Rather than go and get another job I thought, why not run my bookkeeping company?
I came across the Rosemary franchise and reading through the BFA member profile about yourselves and speaking to Emma [ServiceMaster Brands Franchise Sales Manager], it just instantly felt like it was going to be a really good fit.
It suited my personality and my experience, and having a support network behind you gives you that reassurance that if there is something you haven’t come across before, there’ll always be somebody you can ask what to do in a situation.”
So, you weren’t looking into franchising specifically at that time then?
“No, I had no idea that there was any such thing as a bookkeeping franchise!”
“I’d worked with customers who are owners of franchises: fast food and things like that. But it didn’t even enter my head that there could potentially be a bookkeeping franchise out there!
And when I was thinking about [starting my own business], that was the one thing that had held me back from actually setting up myself, the question of what do I do if I’ve got a client and I’ve never come across that situation before?
Upon finding the Rosemary Bookkeeping franchise I realised that the support of a network behind you covers that worry.
You’re never going to be on your own. There’s never going to be something that you can’t find the answer to, somebody will always be able to either let you know or direct you to where to find it.”
That’s lovely to hear. And now you’re here! How have you found the academy and the sale process?
“I really enjoyed the whole thing.
Hitting the academy and starting to see how everything will work in practice is really good because it is marrying up with everything that and every conversation I’ve had with Emma up to now and Nina [Rosemary Bookkeeping Brand Manager] and I can see everything now slotting into place and how it’s all going to work.”
Now you’ve gotten into the operations side of the business, is there a service in particular that you’re looking forward to providing?
“Just the whole thing. I am a bit of a paperwork queen.
I love paperwork, I love excel, and figures are what I’m about.
When I was at school, I was thinking about being an accountant and life took a step in a different direction. The whole of bookkeeping, I love it.
So, I’m looking forward to getting really stuck into things with customers, solving their issues and getting it all nice and straight for them.”
What do you think sets Rosemary Bookkeeping apart from other franchise opportunities?
“I think Rosemary was great for me as someone with not much experience in many sectors.
Bookkeeping covers so many different businesses so there will always be a situation, I think, that you won’t have come across before.
If you’re on your own, it could take you hours of Googling so you could end up costing yourself more money in time.
Whereas having the franchisor behind you who can direct you to the right place will save you hours of that trudging.
You still might need to do a bit of research yourself. But you’ll have been guided to the right point or the right person to ask the question of.”
Need a bookkeeper?
Bookkeeping can be complex and time-consuming, but with the right support, it doesn’t have to be.
If you’d benefit from expert bookkeeping support from your local expert, find your nearest Rosemary Bookkeeping business to see how we can help.
Or, if you’re in the North Dorset or Salisbury area, get in touch with Karen today on 01202 094387 / 07590 554797.