All in the Family: For some broods, there's no place like home in franchising

When your grandfather is one of the co-founders of a successful franchise concept and system, it might seem natural for subsequent generations to be involved. But that wasn't always the case for Justin and Sally Haddock.

"My grandfather, Jack Fulk, along with Richard Thomas, co-founded Bojangles'," says Justin. "My mother and father followed suit and they have been franchisees since 1980." In fact, his folks still operate 39 Bojangles' locations today.

But Justin (30) and Sally (31) initially had different plans. The two North Carolina natives met in college and both racked up numerous hours working in restaurants when they weren't in class. "We actually began to formulate our own business plan before graduation," he says.

Upon graduation, the couple started their own sub sandwich shop and ran it for five years. "We loved getting to know the restaurant business first hand and we discovered we loved working together in our own business." But they also began to realize how difficult it would be to expand and grow that business, so they began looking at franchising. That's when the family's Bojangles' ties came in handy.

"We looked for open territories in the southeast U.S. for Bojangles'," says Justin. The eventual target - northern Alabama.

The couple opened their first unit in Athens , Ala., in April of 2006. It was followed rapidly with additional locations in Florence and Huntsville.

It's been a busy couple of years for the young pair. They had their first baby, now 16 months old, opened three Bojangles' units in just 14 months, and now have another child on the way.

"Working together in a franchise business can be a strain on family relations," says Justin. "It's just important to keep everything in perspective and try to leave work at the door when you go home."

Justin believes that for families to work together successfully in franchising, the personalities need to be well matched and that it's important for each family member's jobs and responsibilities to be clearly outlined. "Every member should be utilizing and maximizing his or her strengths and everyone needs the room to do their part," he says.

Furthermore, Justin believes that a family-operated franchise has an advantage. "Customers love to see a family-run business, it just seems to make it all even more personal, like we're all family here."

For his part, Justin is a very hands-on business operator. He and Sally both were heavily involved in daily activities until they started their family. Now she handles much of the back office paperwork and responsibilities form their home office. Justin is in each of his stores each week, working closely with and training his managers. "That role is so important to what we do here," he says.

The Haddocks have a lofty objective looming ahead of them. "We have the rights to eight counties in northern Alabama and our schedule calls for us to open eight stores in eight years."

Of being a family-operated franchise Justin says, "The two of us really love working together and we're both dedicated to the business. In one sense, I think this is easier because instead of us having two separate careers, we can both focus on one."

He adds that together they are both able to share in the successes of their business.

So for now, three generations of Justin and Sally's family have been actively involved with Bojangles'. Perhaps their two young children will carry on the tradition.

Published: December 10th, 2008

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