Working With A Family Member

The franchising industry has a huge number of family owned and run businesses. This is interesting as this has a direct correlation with the idea that franchising can support a work-life balance that new franchisees are often looking for.

Over the last 18 years, I have met a combination of husband and wife, mother and son, father and daughter even grandad and grandson. It can work really well but it can also be fraught with problems and emotional intensity. One of the biggest issues for a husband and wife team especially, in the early days is the fact that they can’t even have a day off together let alone go away on holiday. Unless they shut the business or get someone in to man the fort then holidays are a no go.

It’s really interesting when you listen to conversations where a couple will have explained that they work together, there is usually someone in the group who will say “I could never work with my partner” There are lots of opportunities within the franchise sector that really do work well with a husband and wife team heading up the business. I know lots of franchisors that actively recruit husband and wife teams. Indeed in the early days, McDonald’s actively recruited husband and wife teams.

Our businesses are no exception. The Franchise Resales board of directors is made up of myself and my Son Michael Bohan, and Dave Williams. The Franchise Professionals (TFP) is again my son and I with husband and wife team Ben and Teri Wright as shareholders who are both active in the business.

Michael and I have worked successfully together for the last six years and so far so good. We are both really passionate about our businesses and whilst we have similar temperaments and similar ideas about what should be done, and where we want the businesses to go we have very different skill sets which helps tremendously.

As a franchisor recruiting family teams to run franchise outlets, there are 3 main things that I would say need to be taken into consideration.

1. It seems an obvious point but, do they realise that they won’t get time off together without closing the business for a while until they are in a position to have trustworthy staff in situ. Until then the reality is that they have a self-employed job rather than a business that will bring in money and keep running whilst they are away.

2. Another factor is their individual skill sets. If they are so alike that they will want to occupy the same type of role within the business then who will do the bits that they either don’t like or are not good at.

3. Last but not least, are both members equally enthusiastic. We see Dads buying a business for their offspring. This is great if offspring wants the business. Sometimes the parent is buying them a job that they don’t want. It’s easy to allow this if the parent is waving a chequebook. But, make sure the person who’s going to be running the business is actually interested.

This all might sound obvious but believe me, we get people coming to us to sell their franchise purely because they have discovered that they can’t work together or because the person meant to be running it has gone out and a found themselves a job!

When Michael first joined me, and we started taking the businesses forward we most definitely couldn’t take time out together when family events were organized. But, as the team around us has grown – there are 13 of us now! – this is less of an issue. However, let’s face it when you run your own business, are you ever really not at work. We do get into trouble sometimes with family when we start “talking shop” at family events.

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