Franchising With Family Members Can Be Fraught With Danger Or Filled With Success

It can be difficult enough to get a franchise up and running on your own, or with other operational and investing partners, but it can be downright arduous if family members are involved in the deal. But that's the route some franchisees take and when done properly this management model can provide years of personal and professional harmony. But there are some secrets to making it work. Go in unprepared and you could break up a business and a family.

Running any business – especially during the start-up phase – can be stressful. The demands on your time and energy can be tremendous. So if you are considering going into franchising with a family member (spouse, siblings, or otherwise) consider the following three factors.

Role Playing

It's important in any business operation to have clearly defined roles and boundaries. Whether it's front of the house, back of the house, marketing, accounting and financial, hiring and firing, or any other duties, make sure that each member of the family understands their role(s) going into the franchise and make certain that everyone has the space to execute their responsibilities. This is the classic place to do a strength and weakness analysis for every family member involved. With clearly defined roles and a continuing dedication to allowing each family member to do their job, you'll have a much better chance of keeping peace in the business and in the family.

Separation of Family and Business

One of the most common problems in a family-run business is making time to disconnect from the business for regular family interaction. It's far too easy for a husband and wife franchisee team to work long hours at the business everyday and then continue to discuss work after they go home – it's even more difficult if your office is in your home. You need to set clear boundaries between work and family life in order to avoid burnout and friction. Set aside time every day where you disengage from work and tend to family matters.

Similarly, nothing can derail a family-run franchise like bickering and arguing inside the franchise location. It's even healthy to take some away from the business or family members occasionally to reenergize and clear the mind. You'll likely return with fresh energy and passion and a renewed sense of purpose. The overall goal here is to maintain a healthy separation for your family life and your franchise life.

Communication and Disagreements

Family dynamics can be complex in daily life but it can get even more complicated in a business setting. How do the members of your family relate to each other? Is there much arguing or bickering? Do members "forgive and forget" easily? Are there any grudge holders? If family members are going to be involved in a franchise business, it's important to keep lines of communication open and to work quickly to diffuse any arguments or differences of opinion that can crop up.

Create an atmosphere where each member of the family can openly share their views and opinions on a variety of business-related topics. This clears the air, gets everything into the open, and allows for healthy discourse. This approach can break up any simmering hostilities and also build trust and camaraderie among the family members involved in the franchise.

Analyze your family situation, determine the strengths and weaknesses of each member to be involved in the franchise business, and create an environment where the business operation and the family can coexist. With this in mind, you may just be on the way to creating the next franchise family dynasty.

Published: September 1st, 2010

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