Should you buy a franchise with your partner?

By Sarah Stowe | 29 Oct 2015 View comments

Could you, should you, work with your better half? And if so, how would you effectively bring your work and home life into one package? Pack & Send franchisee Maria Varkevisser reveals some of the challenges and rewards of sharing a business with your spouse.  
 
Maria and Wayne Varkevisser purchased their Pack & Send franchise in Chermside in 2011, after immigrating to Australia from South Africa, where they had built up a successful mobile phone business over 10 years.  
 
They live by the same key business rules they established in South Africa where they devoted team members to different segments, which dramatically grew their business. Maria says it is imperative to separate the business and to allocate roles from the outset. "This makes decision-making easier because personal emotion is not involved." 
 
Other key rules are that the customer is continually their highest priority, and there is only one boss. Maria simply loves business. "I naturally became the leader; I was able to see opportunities in the marketplace and the demand for the business." 
 
She explains further, "It is important to have a vision for the business and be able to plan and think it through, be quick to make good decisions for the business and be confident at all times; even if things are tough – because they will get better." 

Separate roles 

Over the years, Maria and Wayne identified their strengths and weaknesses, learning to balance out their separate roles. Maria is responsible for retail sales, new business, delivery co-ordination, business strategy, marketing, PR and suppliers. Wayne is in charge of accounting, despatching and booking, packing, collections, stock ordering, franchise reports and administ-ration functions. 
 
"We balance out as a team; we don't overlap on functions in the business but we are able to cover each other's functions in the business if required," she says. 
 
The couple had to also learn to manage a different business in a new country, every day facing challenges thatcould affect the success of the franchise. 
 
"The fear of making mistakes that could cost us financially started eroding our confidence and clouding our thinking," Maria shares. 
 
When these situations arose, Maria and Wayne would discuss them and work through the process within the business model, and accept the outcome either way. "We had to accept this as part of the learning curve in the business until we could conquer the fear," Maria adds. 

Good communications 

Ultimately, they overcame their apprehension by trusting the Pack & Send business model and realising they didn't have to micro-manage their business or suppliers on a daily basis. Other challenges included increasing and, at times, changing their business roles, and maintaining good communication with each other. 
 
Some days were challenging and frustrating but the couple just let the tears roll down their cheeks, hugged each other and carried on. 
 
"We always benchmark a much tougher time in our lives against the current issue and then things are not so bad," Maria says. 
 
Maria admits she and Wayne are complete opposites:  "But we complement each other and in our strengths that we bring to the business. We are both fully aware of who needs to be the good or bad cop in business when required," she adds. 
 
They benefit from a strong, loyal relationship and appreciate the value they have gained from having to make the business work to survive. "This is the thread that makes us a team," says Maria. 
 
It's impossible not to talk business in the Varkevisser home and Maria explains their family has been around business for many years. "The children grew up in a self-employed environment and we are proud to say this has been a great experience for them as well." 
 
Although home and business is one life, after three years, Maria and Wayne are able to work a five-day week and enjoy exploring the picturesque state of Queensland. 
 
"We love getting in the car over the week-end and driving up the coast to explore new places, having breakfast on the way, a swim at secluded beaches, and just to get out in the sun and appreciate beautiful Australia," Maria says. 
 
"We take time every year to holiday, even if it is a short one, because it is important to distance ourselves from the business and to strategise for the coming year," she explains.