In case you missed our quarterly update a few days back, you may not have realised that AIMS turned 30 years this August.
It’s a really exciting milestone for us. Starting from small beginnings and becoming the largest network of qualified Accountants in the UK did not happen overnight, it’s been many years of hard work, and thousands of people involved to be what and where we are now.
Did you know the first official Franchisee who joined AIMS was back in March 1993?
That was just a few months after AIMS was established, and it has not stopped growing since then. Since we are accountants and we like numbers, we thought you’d like to know some stats about the company – so here’s AIMS in numbers!
- We’ve had over 500 Franchisees joined the AIMS Family in the last 30 years
- We currently have nearly 30,000 active clients across the UK
- AIMS was incorporated 18 August of 1992 but the first official Franchisee joined early 1993!
- 30 years is 360months, and 10,950 days since AIMS’ birth and counting!
It’s been three decades of supporting SMEs across the UK with their financial services, business advice on growth, hundreds of incorporations and millions saved in extra cash for local economies. It has also been three decades of kickstarting over 500 qualified accountants’ practices and enabling them to create a life around it, allowing them to shape their business tasks around daily activities, with the ultimate goal of improving their quality of life.
AIMS Flashbacks – Cold calling, floppy disks, and no databases with Andrew Hardwick.
To celebrate our 30 years, we have been in touch with a previous AIMS Franchisee to share some memories of the early days. Andrew Hardwick joined AIMS in 1994, a few months after our incorporation, who then retired in 2018.
Did you know back in 1993 the internet was dial up and emails were not a thing yet?
Andrew reflects back to when he started running his AIMS practice things were a bit different and he was allowed to cold call more openly, which was one of the main ways to gain clients since the internet was very limited and slow.
Andrew comments: “We used to get the yellow pages telephone book and choose a sector of the industry that you might like and started cold-calling the business numbers that you could find. The rules weren’t as tight, so we just put a finger on the top of the A’s and started going down. So, I ended up having a lot of businesses with categories starting on A, B and C, so I had a lot of automobile engineers, butchers, bakers, cafes, and never got to D as I had enough business from them.”
Andrew highlighted that most of his clients became good friends and eventually helped his business to grow in the longer term as they kept referring Andrew’s services to other businesses in their close networks. Referrals were a key success factor for many businesses back in the days, and we are happy to see it still happening in 2022 with our active accountants.
Andrew also reminisced on the variety of clients he used to work with and how we developed “people skills” to keep growing his practice as he comments: “There were all sort of clients out there, going from the really illiterate to the very clever, and you don’t know what you’re going to come across next and you must pitch your level of conversation according to who you have in front of you. I also didn’t need to advertise my business for over 10 years as my current clients were able to refer me to other new business.”
Head Office support via dial up? – ‘We don’t want emails!’
There was no broadband back then, only dial up which was the slowest form of internet available, and emails only came down the line, so the way the franchisees communicated was over dial up. Andrew commented that back in 1994, Henry Ejdelbaum, MD of AIMS, was very insistent that every Franchisee should have emails to communicate as it would be the most efficient way, but Andrew ‘rioted’ against it at the start and thought it would never catch on. Back then, many clients didn’t even have an email account, but as time passed it became the norm, and everyone had emails, and it did catch on – Henry was right, again!
About computer usage, all the processes would be considered today collectables! Have you seen a floppy disk? They would only hold less than 1MB in data, not even a high-quality photo in today’s data sizes.
Andrew said: “we used to do backups on floppy disks to keep all our information, and we used Compaq accounting software. We had grown with Compaq, and I used Lotus 123 as my spreadsheet, we didn’t use databases as they came later on. We also never did any web filings as it was in paper and sent through the post and sent to HMRC. We used to have a lot of tax investigations back then, now it gradually started reducing to less and less.”
We can certainly tell things were a lot different back then, and how it has evolved to more digitised business processes which can reduce human error, but what has not changed has been our commitment and personal service to clients since day one. If you have enjoyed the written interview feel free to watch the full video interview with Andrew here – we can guarantee a fun watch!
Pictured: Andrew Hardwick (left) and Henry Ejdelbaum, MD, at the AIMS National Conference in the 2000s. Andrew comments, “I had been awarded ‘Person of the Year’ and as I don’t think it happened again, I feel I must still hold the title!” and we agree!
On behalf of everyone working alongside AIMS Accountants, we would like to say thank you for being part of the company’s success over the years. We greatly appreciate everyone who was and is currently involved on this fantastic project. We are and continue to be business accountants for business people.
Cheers to 30 more years!