Winner of the 2018 Global Franchise Awards Best Business Franchise is Expense Reduction Analysts, who augmented their tremendous achievement by also taking the Supreme Champion Runner Up award. Founder and Group Chairman, Fred Marfleet explains the rationale behind this successful enterprise.
Picture shows Global Chief Operating Officer Klaus Jeschke and Founder and Group Chairman Fred Marfleet as they receive their certificate from Global Franchise editor, Ross Gilfillan
How would you describe Expense Reduction Analysts and the services it provides?
At Expense Reduction Analysts (ERA), we help our clients to reduce their costs without sacrificing quality or service. By freeing up cash, we enable them to either invest to grow their businesses or make more profit. Today, after 25 years, we operate in over 30 countries with over 650 franchisees, forming a network of highly-experienced business professionals with strong local presence and international capabilities. ERA’s compelling ‘No Savings – No Fees’ business proposition provides a low-risk opportunity for our clients whilst offering a profitable business model for our franchisees. Our ambition is to be recognized as a Trusted Advisor and to become the world leader at cost optimization and supplier management consultancy through continuous improvement, driven by the innovation, passion and teamwork of our global franchise network.
How did Expense Reduction Analysts come into being?
In 1992, I was looking for a low risk business in the service sector, as the global economy at that time was in a recession. I came across the concept in the US. We built a small consulting business out of London and this service proved so successful that we strategized how we could grow it nationally and internationally and decided on a franchise model. It was in 1996 that we first saw an intranet and realized that using this tool we could control quality and delivery which would be vital to building a valuable brand and started franchising in the UK and Australia in 1997. Three of the first eight franchisees in the UK are still with ERA after 21 years.
How did you develop the business?
We have mainly used a direct franchise model in English-speaking countries like the US and Australia or an Area Representatives (ARs) model in non-English speaking countries, and in a few cases Master Licenses. However, in the majority of countries where English is not the official language we operate directly through Ars, thus having someone on the ground familiar with the local language and culture. However, all franchise agreements are with ERA, directly allowing us to provide serious input on best practice, support, and franchise selection. Our operational structure reflects the international aspect of our presence and reach. We have staff that speak 13 languages and come from 14 countries and pride ourselves on being truly international. This helps us to better cross cultural barriers and look after the needs of our franchisees. ERA invests heavily in technology and tools to help its franchisees grow and prosper. The training and development of our franchisees and staff in support functions is also a major focus and seen as a key ingredient to our success.
How would you account for this success?
A great deal of perseverance and focus over the last 25 years and, of course, we have an enormous passion for the business. This love and passion for the business is fundamental to our success – everyone has it, not just the management and staff, but all our franchisees, Area Representatives and Master Licences, too. Other key success factors have been making sure that we focus on our niche market and cost management, which has ensured the ERA brand is incredibly good at providing its services to clients. Many businesses start to offer other services and they lose their focus and become ‘jacks of all trades and masters of none’ and lose market definition. Rather, we focus on what we are outstanding at. The ethos of the ERA brand is to always put the customer first; by doing so, we grow by our reputation.
What does winning Best Business Franchise mean to Expense Reduction Analysts?
We are incredibly honored to have been voted the ‘Best Business Franchise’ at the Global Franchise Awards. It is a strong recognition of ERA as one of the key players in the white-collar franchise industry globally and we strongly believe that our unique international culture has helped us to win this award. We are proud that we were the only non-US franchisor to win an award, as we all know how successful and dominant the US franchise industry and the IFA are. 2018 will be the 25th anniversary of Expense Reduction Analysts and we will be celebrating this milestone with hundreds of our franchisees from all over the world at our Global Conference in May in Monaco. We are proud to be part of the global franchise community and will continue to focus on franchising best practice, playing our part in the franchising industry across the globe through the many franchise associations we are members of. We are very confident about our future and are looking forward to the next 25 years!