The brand's top earner, with profits of £433,000, was Keith Copestake who took home the award for the individual franchise partner with the highest income.
“I was delighted to win after coming second for the last two years,” says Keith. “I'll admit to being quite competitive, and I definitely set out to fight for first place this year! But there's friendly rivalry between us all and, with some exceptional people within ERA, this is a great achievement.”
A second trophy handed out for the best financial performance went to Ian Morrison, who heads up the consultancy practice that generated the most revenue. Now, in his tenth year as an ERA franchise partner, Ian admits he is driven by more than the obvious financial gain. “I get up every day excited about what I do,” he says. “Every day is different, every day is a challenge. Every client is different and every project is different. What more could I ask for?”
Ian was called up on stage again as he shared the “Consultant's Consultant' award with fellow franchise partner, Sue Cooke. “That was very humbling,” says Ian. “It's heartening to know that our colleagues consider the work we do worthy of such an award.”
Arguably one of the most coveted trophies, the 'Consultant's Consultant' is chosen by the franchise network itself. Winning for the second year in succession, Sue is modest in her self-appraisal. “I haven't done anything different this year, I just do what comes naturally,” she says. “I try to do the best job I can, whether that's helping clients or other consultants.”
ERA's UK Business Manager, Paul Lewis, is more effusing in his praise. “Sue Cooke has been voted the 'Consultants’ Consultant' for the second year running, and this really is testament to the affection held for her by her ERA colleagues,” he says. “Sue brings a degree of excellence to every project she is involved with. Not only does she have a sterling reputation for high standards in project delivery, but Sue is also a valued member of our Induction Training team, giving up a proportion of her time to help the new ERA associates. By always putting others first; clients, colleagues and joint venture partners, Sue is ultimately successful.”
While Ian and Sue are long-standing franchise partners, with almost two decades' experience between them, ex-paper merchant Steve Cummings joined ERA just 18 months ago. Highly regarded by his peers, his first year's performance was recognised by the rest of the network who nominated him as ERA's 'Newcomer of the Year'. Like Sue, Steve is quick to deflect praise and says “I don't go about seeking that sort of recognition.”
He adds “I just work as hard as I can, and as best that I can. I do everything the way it should be done and that has helped me get my business off the ground. I've stuck to my plan and haven't broken the model. And, that's why bought a franchise in the first place.”
It's down to Academy Manager, Dan Ireland, who has worked closest with Steve in the last year to provide a fitting testimonial. “Steve had a hugely successful first year,” says Dan. “But this was not as a result of any previous business contacts or establishing a new route to market. It was because of his hard work, diligence and adherence to the ERA business model. And, as a result, Steve has fully integrated himself into the ERA network and has become a valued and respected associate amongst his peers.”
This was ERA's 20th Annual Conference, attended by more than 150 franchise partners. Since the brand launched in the UK in 1992, it has grown into an organisation that turns over more than £11million annually. Recruits will be capped at 200, with 15 new franchise partners joining this year. Candidates don't need to be accountants, or have previous experience of the sector, but they must consider themselves 'white collar professionals'. Interested parties can attend free discovery days at the company's head quarters in Southampton, or meet the recruitment team at Lloyds TSB franchise seminars held throughout the country.