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How One Woman Reinvented Her Career After Nearly 30 Years by Becoming a Franchisee After spending much of her career at Motorola, Linda Zager learned that selling consulting services required different techniques than selling phones.

By Carly Okyle

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Linda Zager had worked for Motorola for 28 years before she left to start her business as an Expense Reduction Analysts franchisee. Offering cost-management strategies to businesses, she soon acquired clients from various companies in Chicago. When she discovered that the same techniques used for her business clients would be effective for nonprofits, she began working with Back Office Cooperative, a Chicago organization that frees up resources for nonprofits. Zager is now also the executive director of The Back Office Cooperative and she has helped grow membership while reducing expenses. In changing her career, she's changing the lives of others throughout the city.

Read on to see how she did it and what's next.

Image credit: Linda Zager

Name: Linda Zager

Franchise owned: Expense Reduction Analysts in Chicago, IL

Related: This Franchise Knows Just How Cool (and Hot) It Is for a Woman to Own and Operate an HVAC Business

Q: How long have you owned a franchise?
I have owned my Expense Reduction Analysts practice since 2008.

Q: Why franchising?
Joining Expense Reduction Analysts' franchise system provided me with the opportunity to own my own consulting practice with the backbone of an established, respected brand and the proven resources for franchisees to succeed. Due to the nature of our business, it also gave me access to a network of other analysts in the franchise system who are able to help advise on specific client projects.

Q: What were you doing before you became a franchise owner?
I worked with Motorola from 1979 until 2007. During that time I held many different positions spanning disciplines in sales, finance, and credit and account management.

Q: Why did you choose this particular franchise?
There were many things that attracted me to the opportunity. It combined key elements of a classic consulting firm, to which I could apply my professional skills sets, with a franchise model that I could grow and scale as my own business. It also gave me the freedom to choose my business focus in client acquisition and management, and because I can create my own schedule and workload, it allows me to maintain a flexible lifestyle. Lastly, due to ERA being a knowledge- and consultancy-based offering, there were very low overhead expenses and no need to invest in a brick-and-mortar type of retail space.

Related: Ohio Woman Leaves a Career on Campus to Make Learning Fun With Legos at Snapology

Q: How much would you estimate you spent before you were officially open for business?
In total, I spent around $70,000 to get the business up and running. Fifty-five thousand dollars was paid towards the franchise fee, and the remaining $15,000 was spent on training costs.

Q: Where did you get most of your advice/do most of your research?
Outside of my own personal research, I hired a franchise consultant who identified Expense Reduction Analysts as an ideal opportunity that fit well with my background and franchise criteria.

Q: What were the most unexpected challenges of opening your franchise?
Initially, acquiring new business was an unexpected challenge. I quickly learned that selling a consulting service was much different than selling for Motorola. The same rules did not apply. Things really started to turn around for me after I learned how to be a trusted advisor for companies. As a result, I was able to gain the trust of my clients because they knew I had their best interest in mind and from there, securing new business was much easier.

Q: What advice do you have for individuals who want to own their own franchise?
Don't ever underestimate what it takes to acquire new clients or business. This is the only way you can truly be successful.

Related: Former New York Times Pressman Worked Out a Strong Career Change in Mid-Life With Retro Fitness

Q: What's next for you and your business?
Right now, I am in a unique situation within the nonprofit community in Chicago. As the executive director of The Back Office Cooperative. I am able to apply the Expense Reduction Analysts business model to achieve this mission.

Looking ahead to the future, I want to increase my involvement with the nonprofit community both locally and in other parts of the country to make a nationwide impact.

Carly Okyle

Assistant Editor, Contributed Content

Carly Okyle is an assistant editor for contributed content at Entrepreneur.com.

Want to be an Entrepreneur Leadership Network contributor? Apply now to join.

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