My business gives me things that money can’t buy.
“After years in a corporate role feeling unappreciated and overlooked, I’m now the one making the decisions that work in my favour; personally and professionally. Thanks to the support and structure of the business, I have the self-confidence and satisfaction of being in control of my own destiny.”
Simon Perkins has been running his Expense Reduction Analysts (ERA) franchise since July 2010. Awarded ‘New Franchisee of the Year’ in his first year and “Franchisee of the Year’ in his second, Simon has become a well-respected and highly valued member of the ERA network. Far from slowing down, now in his seventh year, Simon says he’s never been busier!
44-year-old Simon specialises in Distribution and Logistics, which is no surprise when you consider his career prior to joining ERA. He excelled academically and earned a degree in Transport and Logistics. However, keen to enter employment, his first foray into the corporate life was in property sales. But Simon quickly found that his own ethics and values were not mirrored by many in the industry and so, after just a few months, he secured a new role in his preferred field, with courier giant UPS.
“I came straight out of university into property sales but the smoke and mirrors were unbelievable! It was obvious that people were doing anything just to get the fee in and that really didn’t sit well with me. Thankfully, I secured a new role pretty quickly with UPS – they were still a minor player in the UK at the time even though they were huge in the US.”
For ten years, Simon worked his way up through the company. Constantly learning and broadening his knowledge to form the solid foundations and hone the skills he uses so successfully in his business today: “I started off at a local level, dealing with accounts in a local territory. I progressed from local sales to National Accounts, handling some of the highest revenue accounts in the UK. These customers come with far more intensive Client Relationship Management so I was dealing with competitor intelligence, flight ops, road ops and credit control as well as personnel.
“Looking back, this really helps me to talk credibly and with a level of inside- knowledge that clients and suppliers appreciate and respect. I understand not only how the industry works operationally but the commercial parameters too having been immersed in them myself for over a decade.”
Unfortunately, due to the company’s high management churn, Simon found himself being overlooked and promised promotions disappeared with one manager to the next. With no formalised career format, Simon began to think about his options for the future. And it just so happened that ERA was not unknown to him: “I’d worked with ERA as a supplier in 2005 and I remember being really impressed with the service. I’d found out that the business was a franchise from the consultant I worked with and since then, the prospect had always been in the back of my mind. After yet another new manager appeared and my ‘progression’ started all over again, my mind started to wander.”
ERA are world leaders in cost management and procurement consultancy. Franchise Partners are trained to offer strategic advice and practical methods which optimise supplier relationships and generate cash. Boasting 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.
“My dad started his own business in his late 30’s and had gone on to work in the franchise industry so I already knew about many of the benefits of investing in a franchise over starting a business from scratch – things like following an already proven model and having the support of the franchisor – and I felt that with my background, I could really have some impact in the transport and logistics sector. I kept thinking, ‘if I don’t do something now, then will I ever?’”
Determined to take control over his future, Simon attended an ERA open day in Southampton where he could meet the team and speak to existing Franchise Partners to learn more about the opportunity. He was so keen to start this new chapter in his life that he signed his Franchise Agreement soon after and officially joined the ERA franchise family. Like all new recruits, Simon’s next step was the all-important Franchise Partner training.
ERA’s award-winning programme of training and support is designed equip you with all the knowledge and confidence you need to successfully launch and run your business, whatever your skills or background. New Franchise Partners undertake a tailored 5-week course consisting of classroom and hands-on learning at the ERA Academy.
“The training has changed a lot since my day but it was good back then – I just know it’s on another level now. And you’d expect it to be, they’ve had another seven years to refine it and implement learnings from all the Franchise Partners who’ve joined since I did! That’s one of the great things about ERA, they’re always improving and feeding knowledge and innovation back into the network.
“In terms of support, there’s always someone there if you need it whether it’s for client issues, marketing or IT. One thing I didn’t expect, or at least not to the level that I now know exists, is the support that you get from your fellow Franchise Partners. The beauty of the network is that we all want to see each other succeed, there’s a real sense of community and camaraderie which I really enjoy being a part of.”
When you join ERA, you join a network of over 140 consultants, each an expert in their own field. Access to this combined knowledge ensures that your business isn’t confined to one or two cost centres or even your own area of specialism. Our Franchise Partners work together to maximise opportunities for collaboration, expansion and guidance.
Now in his seventh year, Simon’s plans for the future involve continuing to build his already successful business. But despite being increasingly busy, work/life balance is something that’s very important to Simon, who says that the freedom afforded to him by his business has allowed him to pursue some new hobbies. He now counts marathon running, cycling and triathlons amongst his favourite past-times and he even ran a sub 3-hour London Marathon this spring!
Simon openly says he made a few mistakes at the start of his journey and, for anyone thinking of joining the franchise, whether from a corporate background or not, he has some wise words of advice: “You need to be financially secure enough to support yourself without any income for a good 12 months. Head Office are totally transparent and tell you that from day one but I was a little naïve and didn’t prepare myself properly. There were a few months at the start where I was extremely nervous and I underestimated the emotional impact that dipping into my savings would have on me. It sounds obvious but you have to be prepared to get out there and graft. It requires hard work and persistence. But when you achieve it, it’s probably going to be one of the most rewarding things you can do.”
People join the ERA franchise from many different backgrounds and with unique and often personal goals in mind. Be that taking control over their future, building a pension provision or even building a legacy for their children. For Simon, self-confidence, belief in his own skills and a sense of personal and professional pride were the aspirations that propelled him. He can now proudly claim to have achieved them all.
“Because my time is more flexible now I actually can do this sort of thing! I only really started when I became a Franchise Partner but it’s become a real passion. I’ve won quite a few competitions and been in the paper… amazing what you can do when you’re the one in control!”