Gordon Patterson talks to Bill Owen

Franchise Consultant Gordon Patterson, talks to Bill Owen, Franchise Director at Expense Reduction Analysts

Gordon Patterson: As a well known figure in franchising, most famously for being at the helm of Snack-in-the-Box from 1995-2009, how did you get involved with the Expense Reduction Analysts brand?
Bill Owen (pictured): In April 2010, I was approached by John and Rob Allison from Expense Reduction Analysts and asked if I would consider joining the main board and help to implement their five-year strategic plan to grow the business. John wanted to retire and my main role would be to use my considerable experience and oversee the recruitment of new franchise owners as the Franchise Director. As Expense Reduction Analysts is one of the longest established management franchises in the UK, with a network of approximately 150 franchise owners, I was excited by the opportunity. In particular, I saw that Rob and John, along with the rest of the board, had an obvious passion for franchising, and so here I am since May 2010.

Gordon Patterson: How long has Expense Reduction Analysts been franchising in the UK and how many franchise owners are now in the network?
Bill Owen: The model was first established in the UK as a licence in 1992 and subsequently as a franchise in 1996. Currently we have 155 franchise owners.

Gordon Patterson: Who are Expense Reduction Analysts franchise owners target clients?
Bill Owen: Well, what we offer is pretty compelling for all business types. However, it is true to say that our network is trained to be procurement specialists and find the greatest savings with companies in the £5 million-£100 million turnover per annum.

Gordon Patterson: As a white-collar franchise opportunity, what is the distinctiveness associated with the Expense Reduction Analysts brand and its offering?
Bill Owen: There are a number of elements that set us apart from other ‘cost reduction’ opportunities and a potential franchise owner should really peel back the layers to understand the difference. To me, the most outstanding difference is the depth of knowledge in the network and how there is a genuine spirit of co-operation and sharing of that expertise. This means that new consultants who join us really leverage off the existing network in that spirit of ‘joint venture’. It is also why people from such very varied backgrounds are helpful – to be successful.

Gordon Patterson: How do you find the demand for the Expense Reduction Analysts services in the current market place?
Bill Owen: Like all businesses today, a proactive approach is required to be successful and just because every Financial Director would like to reduce the cost of doing business, they are not necessarily calling us as the first solution. However, I can confirm that over the last 24 months, our franchise owners have seen their consultancy revenues grow by 36 per cent. It is testament that the model really works in the hands of the right person.

Gordon Patterson: How do you account for this tremendous growth?
Bill Owen: With over 14,000 projects completed by us in the UK, clients now see the benefit of retaining us for longer in their business. The service we offer is not just about saving money in one or two areas of concern. It is about listening to the client and demonstrating a solution using an approach that shows we can help with the ‘whole cost of purchase and supplier management’ within their business and make a difference.

Gordon Patterson: What kind of earnings opportunity can be enjoyed as an Expense Reduction Analysts franchise owner?
Bill Owen: We always do a five-year business plan for new franchise owners to work to. Typically it shows that in the first year, the business is being grown from scratch and this is reflected in low earnings. However, the model can really start to pick up pace from the second year onwards. That is why it is really important that a prospective franchise owner has the right financial circumstances to work through those early years of business development.

Gordon Patterson: How do you see the market place requirements for Expense Reduction Analysts services changing in the future?
Bill Owen: The market place for our business opportunity has certainly changed and our network would confirm that. As I said, the 36 per cent growth in consultancy revenue means that our franchise owners are now earning a higher average from every client per annum, which means that across the board our proactive franchise owners are earning more money in an ever-changing environment.