Creating wealth doing what I love.
“I always saw franchising as a way to develop an income stream and create an asset that increased in value. I was right. On top of that, I enjoy what I do and the lifestyle it gives me.”
Tony Wilcock launched his Expense Reduction Analysts UK (ERA UK) franchise in 2001. In the 17 years that he’s been part of the ERA UK family, he’s built a business that has saved millions of pounds for his clients and provided a comfortable lifestyle for his family. He’s won several awards for the success of his own business and the support shown to his fellow Franchise Partners and, unsurprisingly, is a well-liked and respected member of the ERA UK network.
Prior to discovering franchising, Tony spent almost 13 years working in the Middle East for an International brand with a £58million turnover. As General Manager, responsible for a team of 38, Tony’s career reached a pinnacle and he found himself searching for more.
“I got to the stage in the Middle East where I felt my career had reached its peak. I thought, perhaps naively, that I’d pick up a job fairly quickly if I came back to the UK. I spent about a year searching for my next career move and towards the end of that, I found franchising. I did lots of research and the more I looked, the more I liked the thought of going into business for myself but not by myself.”
In 1991, Tony joined a design and print franchise which he ran for almost nine years before selling in 2000 due to the need for additional investment in the business. Keen to invest in another franchise but no longer motivated by employing staff or being retail-based, Tony researched opportunities that suited his new ambitions. A rewarding business that could be home-based, utilised his existing skills and included a collaborative network. ERA UK ticked all the boxes.
“I liked the concept of ERA UK – it made perfect sense and from my own experience, I know that businesses have a need to cut and control costs. Having had a team of 11 people in my last franchise at its peak, I also knew I didn’t want the hassle of staff again. ERA UK gives you access to over a 100 experts but they’re other Franchise Partners, not employees!”
“And that’s what really attracted me to ERA UK – the people… the Franchise Partners. I liked the idea of becoming a conduit and being able to match or bring in expertise from within the network for the benefit of the client. The quality of people in the network has continually improved. It was good then, it’s great now.”
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.
When you join ERA UK, you join a network of over 130 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.
“My favourite thing about ERA UK is the relationship building – it’s why I decided to focus on being a Business Development Manager because that’s how I felt I could best use my skills and utilise the wealth of knowledge in the network. I like to be involved at every step of the way with clients and it’s a strategy that’s certainly worked for me. My largest client has been with me for 13 years; they started small and now they are my largest client. We’ve saved them in excess of £1million over the years. I couldn’t have done that without the strength of people in the network.”
ERA UK prides itself on having an incredibly transparent and collaborative relationship with Franchise Partners. At regular conferences and via the Franchisee Advisory Board, Franchise Partners are given the opportunity to have an input into strategy and business innovation. Tony himself sits on ERA UK’s Marketing Advisory Committee, helping to communicate the network’s needs into valuable marketing collateral and campaigns that will benefit all.
“The values and the relationship we have with ERA UK as the franchisor is one where we, as Franchise Partners, are encouraged to talk, challenge and understand their plans and investment for the future. To me that’s the sign of a good franchisor and it’s one of the reasons that I chose to renew my franchise agreement after my first ten years.”
After 17 years with ERA UK, Tony says he has no plans or any need to retire just yet, and that’s down to the level of flexibility and control that his business offers him.
“My plan is to keep on working for the next few years, and then when I feel ready, I have the flexibility to scale my hours back a bit. Because I’ve worked hard, I have the freedom to choose my own hours and make the business work for me. For me, that means doing things like spending time with my children and my grandchildren and watching the cricket and football when I can bear it!”
After 17 years in the business, Tony says he believes that ERA UK is a great opportunity for ambitious professionals from any background. But that doesn’t mean you don’t have to work hard to be a success: “One thing I always say to people when they ask my advice is that you only get out what you put in. You have to work hard, success isn’t going to fall into your lap – but I think if you think like that then perhaps business ownership isn’t for you anyway!
“To get the most out of being part of ERA UK, you have to be willing to be part of the team, collaborate and understand the value of the network. Don’t try to reinvent the wheel! Listen to the rest of the network – we’re always happy to help each other, that’s the beauty of it. So, learn from collective experience and give it your all! That’s what I’ve done!”
Over the course of his career with ERA UK, Tony’s efforts have been recognised again and again through both internal and national business awards. A finalist shortlisting in the British Franchise Association’s ‘Franchisee of the Year’ awards and ‘Consultant of the Year’ within ERA UK are just two of the accolades under his belt. But for Tony, his proudest moments still come from helping his clients.
“Even today, I still get the buzz that I had on day one when I signed my first client. Saving a client money and making a difference in their business is incredibly satisfying.”