Keeping it in the family!
“I couldn’t have found a better fit for my strengths, experience and the work/life balance I was looking for. I think of all those years I spent working away from home, climbing the corporate ladder, and it’s worlds away from where I am today. I’m happier, more fulfilled – and there’s more money in the bank!”
Craig Warhurst has been running his Expense Reduction Analysts (ERA) franchise since February 2013 and was recently recognised as one the top 10 franchisees in the network. Realising his dream of a legacy business sooner than expected, his wife and son have already joined him in the business which is now generating a higher profit than Craig was earning at any time in his corporate life.
“I never expected things to take off in the way they did; all the hard work was totally worth it, because I’ve now got a thriving business and the future’s looking very bright indeed!”
Prior to joining ERA, 48-year old Craig spent his entire career in the purchasing and supply chain; starting out buying fruit and vegetables for one of the UK’s largest distributors. For 10 years, he worked up through the ranks before joining the FTSE 100 company, Granada PLC, as a Purchasing Executive. In ambition of delivering Direct Sourcing from Global suppliers, Craig also developed Granada’s third-party logistics department here in the UK. After one of the largest mergers in the country Craig became part of Compass Group PLC, where he was tasked with setting up a newly formed European Purchasing and Supply Chain team.
“European Purchasing Director was a high-pressured role with a lot of travel and time away from home because by this point after the merger, Compass Group had become the world’s largest food services operator with £13 billion turnover and £billions of expenditure. When my wife, Jayne, became pregnant, I returned to the UK operations team to run Compass UK Procurement and Supply Chain, a role that required far less travel – but which still meant being away 4 nights a week in London.”
Some years later, after leaving Compass to join a Procurement consultancy, a major global client asked Craig to run a long-term project in Dubai and the whole family relocated to the Middle East. After giving birth to their second daughter abroad, Jayne returned to the UK in time for their eldest daughter to start school.
For 18 months, Craig recalls frequent and exhausting flights between the UK and Dubai and it cemented what he already knew: he was missing too much family life and didn’t want to spend any more time travelling. Craig was required to give 12 months’ notice, which gave him plenty of time to think about what to do next. He was confident he could match his salary without having to work away all week; he just wasn’t sure exactly how!
“I considered making a complete change but decided it was silly to throw away all my years of experience and knowledge, and a global track record. I considered setting up my own procurement company but was put off by the massive investment I’d need to make, so I hired a consultant to help me decide how to move forward. In discussing various options, we came across the ERA franchise opportunity and it just seemed like the perfect fit. I could run my own business, focusing on what I do well at the front-end, with ERA’s reputation, marketing and fantastic network supporting me.”
ERA 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 network has enjoyed impressive sales over the past five years and are projecting a 13.2% growth in the next financial year.
Our award-winning programme of training and support is designed to equip you with all the knowledge and confidence you need to successfully launch and run your business, whatever your skills or background. Just like all new Franchise Partners, after signing his franchise agreement, Craig underwent a tailored five-week course consisting of classroom and hands-on learning at the ERA Academy.
“After the initial training, I went home and got stuck in, fully aware that it would take some time for the cashflow to become established. One day, a client who was due to settle a large invoice rang and told me they couldn’t pay for a month. But then, later that day, another client unexpectedly paid half their invoice and we had £4,000 in the account. The next week, we received £25,000 and by the end of the month, the account was £70,000 in credit and we haven’t looked back since.”
Craig’s approach to his business is to play directly to his strengths. He deals exclusively with the ERA franchisees who have chosen to operate as Business Development Managers: “I’m an expert in purchasing and supply but I’m not good at sales, so I decided that the best way forward would be to market myself internally. I called the top 25 BDMs in the network, met with as many as I could and that’s when the business took off! They now market me to their end-clients and it’s a win-win. The BDMs have a reputable resource to help them cement the deal and I effectively have sales and marketing partners.”
By early 2016, with business thriving, Craig needed to take on someone to help him and the timing couldn’t have been better. His son, Kurt, had recently graduated from university with a degree in Business Management and he also wanted to work in the supply chain market.
“Kurt’s now been working with me for over a year and it’s going better than I could have hoped. My wife is a paperwork and admin whizz, so she also works in the office for three half days a week to keep the back-end running smoothly. I always liked the idea of having a family business and now that I’ve incentivised Kurt with some shares, he’s starting to look at it as a long-term career.”
Having had to work abroad for so many years, Craig now really appreciates being at home with his family and spends much of his spare time with his young daughters. He’s also very active in his local community, sitting on the village committee, helping organise events and fundraising.
As far as the future goes, Craig has no shortage of clients and plenty of work in the pipeline, but he’s keen to maintain his family business status: “This is a superb business model and I’m incredibly grateful for the time and money ERA put into marketing it so that we have a first-class brand behind us. The potential for growth is huge but I want to keep my franchise as a family business because I don’t want to have to manage staff – I’ve done plenty of that in my time and I like things just as they are!”
“My goal is to wake up in 10 years, on my 58th birthday, and know that I never have to work again. I probably will, because I love what I do, but I want it to be a choice, not a necessity. ERA has helped to make that possibility real and, rather unexpectedly, it’s also given me a legacy business. I’m delighted with it and it’s a great feeling to see that the future’s secure for my family.”