Steve Cummings

I enjoy working for myself!

“I’m in control of my own destiny and have the freedom to do what I want to do. Not a lot of people get that. There’s often a compromise to be made between what you love doing and what you have to do in order to pay the bills. I’m delighted that, thanks to my business, I don’t have to make that choice.”

Steve Cummings has been running his Expense Reduction Analysts (ERA) franchise since October 2011. After just over a year in business he was awarded Best Newcomer within the ERA network for his performance, contribution to the network and commitment to his fellow Franchise Partners. It didn’t take him long to pay off the loan he took out to fund the purchase of his franchise and is aiming to make his first £million in the not too distant future!

Steve’s impressive 32-year long carer saw him progress through the paper trade to become Operations Director for a large national firm. Responsible for a workforce of over 100 people, Steve’s skills as a motivational leader and senior manager were key to his success.

However, as he approached the big 5-0, Steve became more and more aware of the nagging voice in the back of his mind which dared him to dream of being his own boss. When a company restructure brought with it a change in leadership and direction of the business, Steve started to think seriously about the possibility of turning this dream into a reality.

“I’d had this nagging desire in the back of my mind for about the last decade; a desire to work for myself. The closer to 50 I got, the more I started to think that if I don’t do it now, I never will. Then, when the changes within the company started to take it in a direction I wasn’t comfortable with, I thought, this is it, this is my cue to make a change.”

Keen to see the key effects of his own hard work benefit himself and not someone else, Steve started to research business opportunities. Quite by accident, he stumbled across the concept of franchising and, in a moment of epiphany, realised this could be just what he’d been searching for.

“It’s safe to say I stumbled into franchising! I’d actually had experience with ERA before, when I was on the receiving end as a supplier, and had been really impressed with the integrity of their programme. So, when I came across their name during my initial searches, it rang a bell and I got in touch. I didn’t know anything about the concept of franchising before speaking to ERA. When I realised what it was it made the decision to take the next step that much easier because you’re not starting from scratch.”

True to his nature, Steve’s due diligence into the ERA franchise model was intense. From market research, company structure and even to speaking to a broad range of existing Franchise Partners, he left no stone unturned in his bid to get comfortable with the opportunity.

“I was very thorough in my due diligence, you have to be don’t you? I spoke to Franchise Partners who had been in the network anywhere from two years to ten and I got a really good feel for things. What attracted me most, on top of the franchise benefits, was the opportunity to earn a great income, given that there is no ceiling. Basically, I can earn as much as I can! In my corporate life it was salary plus commission but rest assured, if you made a good commission then goal posts would change the next period!”

“I was very impressed with the ERA toolbox – the fact that if a client wanted help on insurance, fleet, printers – I’d have the capability from within the network to service any cost centre, with experienced colleagues. I also liked the fact that, with my background, I’d be able to work as a cost centre specialist as well as a Business Development Manager. The freedom of choice to do either was another reason that I chose ERA.”

His mind well and truly made up, Steve signed his franchise agreement and was officially welcomed in to the ERA franchise family. Next stop: training!

ERA’s award-winning programme of training and support is designed to 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 five-week course consisting of classroom and hands-on learning at the ERA Academy.

“I can just about remember my initial training! It was really useful and there was such a lot to learn. Coming from a corporate background into business ownership was very different. But it obviously set me well on the path to growing my business!”

“One thing that I like is that the training, or the opportunity to learn, never stops really. Group Office have invested in a programme of sales training over the last couple of years that has been incredibly useful. As a franchisor, ERA are very proactive and forward thinking in their approach to continued development of the entire network and, as a franchisee, that’s invaluable to me. The more knowledge and skills within the network, the more powerful the resource that I can draw on for my own business becomes.”

Having been operating for just over five years, Steve considers himself to be relatively self-sufficient on a day-today basis. But he can remember a time when that wasn’t always the case and has fond memories of the support and guidance he’s received to date.

“I’m pretty independent now! But the support is there if you need it and definitely took advantage of it when I was in the early stages of the business. Everything from marketing and sales support to IT and CRM. And to be fair, even now, if I ever did feel that I wanted some support with any part of my activity, I am totally confident I would get it. I do try to be disciplined to make sure that I use Group Office as much as possible, after all, that’s what they’re there for – another beauty of the franchise!”

As a savvy businessman, Steve truly believes that his success can be seen in much more than his financial statements alone!

“I’ve built up some great client relationships and made some special friends. I think that demonstrates I’ve done a good job. I get referrals and project work from colleagues in ERA and I receive good feedback on the quality which I take a great deal of pride in. My proudest moment will be when I make my first million! I’m earning more now than when I left my corporate life and I’m immensely proud of the fact that I am financially self sufficient. Unless something change drastically, I can see myself signing up for another 10 years.”

When he’s not busy working towards that first million, Steve takes advantage of the great work-life balance his business offers him. With three grown-up daughters and four grandchildren, Steve is one very proud (and very busy!) dad and grandad! Steve’s family may well keep him on his toes but his faithful sidekick, Flash the dog, never forgets to remind him when it’s time for a nice relaxing walk!

And the best thing about being a franchisee? You’d have to ask Steve:
“I enjoy working for myself; the work life balance, the fact that I don’t have to answer to anybody. I still speak to people from the trade I used to work in, and I have had handsome offers to go back but I don’t ever want to revert to being employed!”

“I enjoy working for myself; the work life balance, the fact that I don’t have to answer to anybody. I still speak to people from the trade I used to work in, and I have had handsome offers to go back but I don’t ever want to revert to being employed!”