I now control my future and provide my own security.
“I want to be in a place where everything’s paid for – the house is paid off and there’s enough in the pension pot that my future is secure. Then, when I want to wind down I can do so on my terms. Security in the future is the goal and I can see me getting there now.”
Steve Stringer has been running his Expense Reduction Analysts UK (ERA UK) franchise since April 2016. In less than two years, he’s become a go-to expert in his field, well respected by his fellow Franchise Partners and clients alike. Thanks to his hard-work, he’s currently reviewing a multi-millionpound portfolio of projects and is confident that his goal of a financially secure future for himself, and his young family, is well and truly on the horizon.
“It’s been a lot of hard work getting to this point but I can firmly see the path laid out in front of me now. And as I plan for my future, it’s in terms that I would never have dreamed of before. To think I could earn three times what I did in my previous career and secure my family’s future makes the hard work worthwhile.”
Steve’s career prior to ERA UK will be familiar to many. He held a number of high-pressure roles with leading national companies, including Pilkington, Homeserve and Anglian Home Improvements. But over the years, a mixture of redundancy and management buy-outs repeatedly left him feeling out of control and without a level of security that he craved. Not long after he celebrated his 50th birthday, Steve decided it was now or never to take back the reins of his professional future.
“I decided that the successes in my life were too dependent on others. It didn’t matter how hard I worked or how much knowledge and experience I had, my security or my future had been compromised by other people’s strategies or business decisions.”
Already familiar with the concept, Steve decided that a franchise business was the way in which he could put his 30 years’ experience into practice in the most effective and efficient way. With the support of a proven business model behind him, Steve knew a franchise would provide an environment where the responsibility for success and the rewards that came with it, would be his to control.
“I did think about starting my own business because I felt the need to have some independence but I also felt that having a proven model was going to be much safer than going it alone or starting from scratch. I felt I probably had one last chance to do it; and to be able to get the funding, so I wanted to minimise the risks of it failing and that’s where franchising came in.”
Whilst researching franchise opportunities, Steve came across ERA UK and was impressed with the professional, white-collar business model, the range of service offering and impressive client base. But he admits to being a little nervous about taking the first steps to enquire:
“I was impressed but a little bit intimidated by ERA UK – I remember saying to my wife, ‘this feels like really high-powered stuff and I don’t know if I can do it!’ but I went along to a Discovery Day and that’s where I met the senior team; Matt O’Neil, Chris Aston and the Managing Director, Rob Allison. And they were what confirmed this was the opportunity for me. Not because of any sales spiel or marketing material but because they were honest, friendly and open. They answered all my questions and they weren’t pushy. They were professional and interested and made me feel like I wanted to work not for them, but with them.”
ERA UK 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 UK network has enjoyed impressive sales increases over the past five years.
“ERA UK put in place a mentor for my first few months after I launched. He was an experienced Franchise Partner who was very supportive but he also drove me to do more.”
Keen to make the most of his exciting new opportunity, Steve signed his franchise agreement just before Christmas in 2015 and joined two fellow new business owners on a training course in January of 2016.
“The course was great, I really enjoyed it. I came away feeling like I could move forwards. In fact, I had some quick successes – my very first phone call on the training led to me signing up five projects! From those first 20 letters we did in training, I got five appointments and three clients. I really did apply myself and then I came away and I replicated exactly what we’d done in training. That’s why you buy a franchise isn’t it… to follow a proven system!”
Steve’s natural work-ethic and self discipline have made his transition into franchise ownership a successful one. Working from home, he now appreciates not having to commute and says he enjoys a quieter environment with fewer distractions!
“ERA UK put in place a mentor for my first few months after I launched. He was an experienced Franchise Partner who was very supportive but he also drove me to do more. I always go to regional meetings and to our quarterly conferences; it’s worthwhile personally and professionally to be an active member of the network. My proudest moments in this business so far have been when I hear other Franchise Partners say they’ve heard good things about me. I really work hard and make an effort to be the best at what I do so when you hear things like that and work is continuing to come in, you know it’s paying off.”
For anyone thinking of joining the ERA UK franchise, Steve has some words of advice that come from personal experience. And he says that whilst honest truths shouldn’t discourage people from wanting to invest in a franchise, you shouldn’t ever assume success is possible without some serious hard work:
“It’s important to understand your own experience and how it can be applied to other businesses – i.e. what value are you going to bring to the network and your clients? You’ve also got to make sure you can afford to live and support yourself before the money starts to come in. Everyone at ERA UK is very open and up-front about how long that’s likely to take but you’ve also got to be realistic. Since January of 2017, a year into my business, I’ve been really busy. But it’s only in the last six weeks that I’ve got enough money in my bank account, and coming in, that I can get over that insecure feeling.”
At 55, Steve says he’s looking forward to the next chapter in his professional life, he’s even thinking about expanding the business by taking on an employee or two down the line. With two young children and a life-long passion for making music, one thing’s for certain, there’s going to be no such thing as a dull moment in the Stringer household!
“For me, the best thing about ERA UK is that you own your own business but you’re not alone. That in itself is worth every penny. I love meeting companies, I love going to site and I love being part of a friendly, professional network. I’m carving out a name for myself and building a business I can be proud of.”