Mike Sole is a much-valued member of Kent practice Batchelor Coop. Unusually for an AAT-qualified accountant he was made partner in the firm in 2002 and subsequently a director when the business was incorporated last year.
Sole qualified in 1990 and became a fellow of the AAT in 1995. He joined Batchelor Coop in 1993 and quickly carved out a role for himself marketing the firm’s activities to a broader potential client base locally.
In the current accounting year alone, the firm’s fee income has increased by nearly 15% largely on the back of Sole’s marketing leadership. He has increased advertising and sponsorship activities locally and engineered imaginative campaigns.
His first campaign took a perennial accounting nightmare – the small business client with a carrier bag full of receipts – and turned it on its head. The campaign, which involved sending out specially printed carrier bags to 1,500 prospective clients inviting them to bag up their receipts, netted several new clients for the firm and more than paid for itself.
Having established his marketing credentials, Sole took on more involved business development tasks. Straight after the 2002 Budget, he contacted his portfolio of 100 sole-trader milkmen operating as franchisees setting out the tax advantages of incorporation.
He also worked with Dairy Crest and Express Dairies to get approval for franchise agreements to be converted. His standard incorporation package was subsequently sent out to all Dairy Crest-approved accountants, who act for nearly 700 franchisees. The package has also been adapted for other Batchelor Coop clients.
As part of a growing firm (since he joined in 1993, staff numbers have grown from two to 10), Sole identified training and staff recruitment as a new focus for his energies. He has recruited three new members of staff since becoming partner. He is also responsible for overhauling the firm’s training policy. He coordinates external courses for both staff and partners.
Unsurprisingly, he is a staunch advocate of the AAT qualification. ‘I feel that it is very unlikely that I would employ staff who were not either AAT students or AAT-qualified,’ he says.
Sole is now the firm’s tax partner with responsibility for seeing that all clients’ returns are dealt with. He has forged links with the Inland Revenue that help the smooth running of his own and other departments.
He has also found time to expand his own portfolio of clients, largely through networking within the local community.
Batchelor Coop director Mark Batchelor says: ‘Inviting Mike to become a partner in Batchelor Coop was one of the best business decisions that we have ever made. The last year has seen significant growth in our client portfolio due to Mike’s imaginative marketing.’
The judges applauded his inventiveness and said that Sole was a commendable winner, having achieved a great deal for a thriving small practice.
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- Mary Gillespie of CDS Rail
- Sally Webb of Hastings Insurance Services
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