When family-run business Expense Reduction Analysts (ERA) welcomed its first franchisees in 1996, it had a very clear goal: to become the UK’s leading procurement consultancy whilst maintaining genuine family values. Today, with over 140 franchisees, a staggering 14 industry award placings and a network-wide sense of family and camaraderie, it’s safe to say these ambitions have been well and truly exceeded.
Financially, ERA’s franchisees boast the highest consulting revenue of any UK procurement franchise. The ERA network has enjoyed impressive sales over the past five years and are projecting a 13.2% growth in the next financial year. But for the Board at ERA, the last 20 years have been about much more than financial gain; as Director, Christopher Aston, explains:
“ERA was always family-run and family-value led; 20 years down the line, that still lies at the heart of our business. We want people to be successful, and we’ve invested millions to equip them with the very best in terms of resources, infrastructure and support. But we want them to enjoy the business too, and that means being able to spend more time with their families, build great friendships within the network and achieve personal goals. We call it ‘enjoying the journey’.”
As testament to this ethos, three franchisees from ERA’s very first training course have recently re-signed their franchise agreements for the third time, sealing thirty-year commitments to the business they know and love.
“I make a very good living and I have a great lifestyle – it really is possible to have both! In the last 10 years or more my wife and I have indulged our love of travel and been to most places that we would ever want to go. There are real, tangible rewards of being successful: we’ve increased the overall value of the properties that we’ve lived in and my net worth has increased dramatically,” explained Neil Cullen, franchisee since 1996.
Never ones to miss the opportunity for a celebration, ERA plan to commemorate their 20-year anniversary in style at this summer’s National Franchise Conference. Franchisees, the head office team and distinguished guests will come together for a two-day event featuring world-leading speakers, franchisee-led workshops, strategic planning seminars… and plenty of champagne! A lavish gala dinner complete with awards and entertainment will be a chance for the entire team to reflect on two-decades of success and look forward to an equally bright and prosperous future.
“The business has achieved so much in 20 years and it’s totally down to our brilliant franchisees and the unwavering dedication from our team at head office. All stakeholders are given the opportunity to have an input into strategy and business innovation, and it’s this level of collaboration, along with the diversity that our franchisees bring to the process, that has enabled us to broaden our offering and become the world-class organisation we are today,” added Chris.
Continually recognised for its growth and success, as well as the care and support shown to its franchisees, ERA has once again been shortlisted as a finalist in the British Franchise Association’s (bfa) coveted ‘Franchisor of the Year’ awards. This is the fourth consecutive shortlisting and comes hot on the heels of 2016’s bfa ‘Franchisor of the Year’ Bronze award win.
With 20-years’ experience to draw on, ERA is committed to growing its own business not by recruiting large numbers of franchisees each year but instead by growing and developing the business of the existing network. The business works to maintain the current network size by replacing retiring franchisees with even higher calibre individuals. Efforts are then concentrated on increasing the number of clients, income per client and client lifespan. As their impressive string of awards show, it’s a strategy that has served ERA well.
Far from resting on their laurels, ERA’s constant strive for innovation and excellence ensures that the next 20 years will be as inspiring as the last. And at the heart of it all, ‘enjoying the journey’ remains an essential part of the company’s culture.
“Happiness, enjoyment and a feeling of belonging to something special is just as important to us as financial success. When our franchisees look back on their life with ERA we want them to remember the fun they had along the way as well as the money they made.” Rob Allison, Managing Director.