Snap-on Tools father and son franchisees are nailing it

By Sarah Stowe | 04 Apr 2019 View comments

How would you get on working with your dad, or your son? Graham and Josh Glendinning have mastered it. The father and son franchisees operate a business with Snap-on Tools.

Graham knew the Snap-on Tools brand as a mechanic. So when he was ready to take on a new challenge in his late 40s he turned to what he knew best.

“A Snap On  franchisee suggested it. I was getting a bit older and thinking about what I want to do. I thought, there’s only way to find out. I’ve been in just over eight years.”

This August, he took on a second territory with one of his two sons.

“He was helping out in the truck as an assistant and the other territory came up. Snap-on approached us.”

In his early 20s Josh was “pretty keen” to take on the challenge. “We operate independently as franchisees. He runs one truck, and I run the other. They neighbour each other.

“I’ve shown him what I’ve learned over time. He does his own things at times, which seems to work. You have to try new things.”

The inter-generational experience highlights the strengths that each can bring to the business.

“I’ve learned a lot about IT. He’s not from a mechanical background at all and he sells to customers that I couldn’t really sell to. It could be personality- or age-related, most mechanics are a lot younger than me.

“I think our strength is building relationships with customers. I wouldn’t call myself a salesman, and he’s not either, but he can relate to the customer. Sales come from building relationships.”

Younger franchisee forges his own path

Graham says handing over the knowledge from one generation to another can sometimes take more time than he expects. He’s thrilled, though, with how his son is forging his own path.

“In our business, there is a lot to learn and he’s going on leaps and bounds – I’m pretty proud of him.”

After a hard day at work, the pair head home together. There’s a trick, though, to keeping their family life and business life as separate as possible.

Graham chose to keep his truck in a shared shed with four other truck owners, and that keeps the business at arm’s length after hours.

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

He’s clear that relationship building and product knowledge trounce admin duties, so he ensures that an accountant takes on the bigger tasks. “I don’t want to do BAS – that’s not my job,” he says.

Father and son franchisees

The 55-year-old says he wished he had taken the step to business ownership earlier.

“I enjoy it. It’s good. I’m out and about talking to different people – you never stop learning.”

Father and son are directors of the overarching company with the relevant responsibilities, and Graham is insistent that Josh steps up to the role.

For Graham being hands-on has been brilliant, but he’s ready to take a more strategic role.

“I’m hoping to put an assistant on in early new year. I want to oversee the two trucks rather than work one, so I can help out wherever I can.”

He has his eye on fixing up a house by the river in his spare time.

“You have to be careful about letting the business go though,” he says. “You have to try and keep your finger on the pulse a bit. I’d want to do a couple of hours doing this. Once it’s up and running smoothly I want to pull back and Josh can start overseeing things.”

Expansion is on the cards already, with a third territory a long-term goal.