3 secrets to running a franchise with family

By Nick Hall | 26 Apr 2019 View comments

Have you ever wanted to start a business with a relative? Many entrepreneurs will tell you, money and family don’t mix, but with the proper structures and support systems in place, working with family can lead to a profitablebusiness, particularly in franchising.

There’s no denying that all business opportunities entail an element of emotional strain, and the franchise sector is no different. In this model however, the streamlined approach to operations greatly reduces the risk of stress-related business fatality.

By entering into a franchise model with a family member, prospective entrepreneurs are adding a familiar factor to the mix. After all, you know your family members like the back of your hand; all their traits, skills and flaws.

Working with family isn’t easy though, and like any business it requires clear focus and a strict set of guidelines.

We spoke with some successful franchisees that have put family first on their secrets to getting the family balance right.

1. Separate work and family

Operating a business, particularly in the early days requires long hours, however it is pivotal, both to the health of the franchise and to your family that you do not bring this work home.

Create a timetable whereby you dedicate a predetermined amount of time to certain tasks per day, both professional and personal. This may include; accounting and book-keeping, training, on-floor activities, spending time with kids or family meal times.

Remember, this team is one that you will see every day, both at work and home. It is important that all disputes or disagreements are left at the premise.

Snap-On Tools father and son franchisees, Graham and Josh said having a clear distinction between work and family has allowed the pair to more accurately manage their business.

Rather than take his truck home, Graham leaves the vehicle in a shared shed, keeping the business at arm’s length.

“Sometimes you’ll remember things at night. We try and do all the work here, and then go home, and leave it at work,” Graham said.

“Most of our franchisees take their trucks home and you tend to think at 8pm, ‘oh, I’ll do that’ – and you’re still there at midnight. Instead, I write myself a note.”

2. Leverage individual skills

When you choose to employ or partner with a family member, you should treat them with the same level of respect that would any worker.

Unlike a fresh face however, you should be aware of your family member’s skills and knowledge.

Rather than starting from scratch, where an owner conducts research to determine an employee’s best fit, you can easily leverage their individual talents to streamline this onboarding process.

It should be noted that all staff members should undergo a routine onboarding and training process, to ensure consistency across the outlet.

In Graham and Josh’s case, the pair split their duties according to the demands of the customer.

“I’ve learned a lot about IT,” Graham said. “He’s (Josh) not from a mechanical background at all and he sells to customers that I couldn’t really sell to.”

3. Leave history at the door

One of the biggest challenges for franchisees working with family is the lingering presence of past history.

Regardless of the relationship, whether it be mother/daughter, brother/sister or husband/wife, once the uniform goes on, you must act professional. This includes only reacting to situations as they appear in the workplace, rather than bringing up past personal issues.

Similarly, the relationship roles must not have an impact on the day to day running of the business.

Ella Baché franchisee Angela Andriopolous understands the challenges associated with operating a franchise with family.

The New South Wales owner works alongside her two daughters, Georgia and Alexandria, but despite the close-knit connection, she takes all suggestions onboard.

Angela revealed the key to her success as a family-run franchise owner was the ability to disassociate age and experience. She advocates thinking like a business owner, rather than a mother.

“You really can’t play favourites,” Angela said. “They see what the salon takes, how we are buying products, the cost and we are all quite driven to make it a profitable business to keep everyone on staff.”

Working with family benefits

While working with family presents a unique set of challenges, the benefits, particularly in franchising far outweigh the negatives.

The ability to leverage the experience and established relationship dynamics provides a great platform for business operation. In a family franchise, you have a loyal and committed workforce.

Shane Steinwall, CPA at Axis Accounting said franchise businesses operated by family have a strong long-term focus, a key factor in prolonged profitability.

“Family run franchises tend to be less driven by short-term financial results and are prepared to sacrifice short-term gains for the achievement of longer-term goals, which allows them to align the deployment of resources with their strategic objectives,” Steinwall said.

“A family run franchise could provide financial rewards to both active and non-active family members.”

To read more from these family-focused franchisees, pick up a copy of Inside Franchise Business Feb-Apr issue. Find it here.