There has never been a more important time for businesses to get their spending in order. That may help explain how the Texas-based Expense Reduction Analysts (ERA), which helps businesses reduce their operational expenses, made such a large leap on our list. It once appeared as high as No. 98 (in 2011), fell off the list last year, and now has rocketed up to No. 235. How? “Everybody and their grandmother is going to need this type of help,” says Dan Fields, the brand’s chief development officer.
ERA has become an especially attractive opportunity for a certain kind of franchisee — the person who once ran a business, is looking for a second career, and would prefer to help other businesses instead of starting something totally foreign like a fast-food franchise. Here, Fields explains how ERA has seized the moment.
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How selective are you with the potential franchisees you speak to?
I’ve been doing this for 24 years and have brought on over 1,500 franchisees myself. I’ve learned to not talk to just anyone. The vast majority of candidates we’re talking to are highly skilled — 25, 30, 35 years in corporate America, with every industry you can imagine and every skill set. They’re people who, for the most part, for the first time in their life, are waking up one morning realizing that approaching 50 years old looking for the next job is not really the best position to be in.
How do you market this model, given how atypical it can be?
I’ve probably spent 20 years building relationships with a significant number of franchise consultants. Today, probably 75% of our strongest candidates are coming from franchise consultants, and the other 25% are coming online — LinkedIn, Google Ads, digital campaigns that we do on our own.
Related: 9 Business Expenses You Can Reduce or Eliminate to Save Thousands
In the past year, how have you innovated to drive growth?
Two things: Most franchisors, including ours for many years, gave a lot of lip service to helping new franchisees. We had our own little come-to-Jesus meeting and said, “Listen, do we care about these people or not? If yes, then we need to rethink everything we’re doing to help them getting clients in their first year.” The second thing we’ve done is: A client can have $0 in their business bank account, and we’ll still take them on as a client — because we self-fund our own billing [with the savings ERA finds]. You’d have to be a knucklehead not to say, “Well, OK ERA, let’s see if you could reduce my expenses.”
The crucial question, then: How does ERA monitor its own operating expenses?
We definitely live by what we preach. We’re about as lean and mean as it gets.