Colin Smith, Apollo Blinds, Hull
Making our franchise a family business has been the key to our success, in my opinion. My wife Gill has worked with me since we invested in the franchise in Hull nearly eight years ago, and in the last five years our sons Chris and Phil have also joined the business.
Gill works in the Albion Street showroom along with Phil, who also fits blinds as well. Chris takes care of the accounts and is responsible for sales. I'm also involved in sales and I do everything else as well. We also have couple of other people who work for us, but there's something special that marks out the family dynamic in the workplace. I know it sounds obvious to say it, but we all know each other very well and know where our strengths and weaknesses lie and we make full use of that in business. Being a family in business often means we don't hang back when there are issues that crop up and sometimes we do argue - but that's because we're passionate about what we do.
We share common values and are all focused on the quality, value and service we provide for our customers. And I've noticed that, because it's a family business, everyone is prepared to go the extra mile for one another to make sure the job is done to the high standards we all expect of each other. But being a family in business means we never really switch off from it, especially as our sons are still at home. We find we can't help but talk about work when we're at home.
However, as a business owner, this does have its advantages - most notably when Gill and I want to get away on holiday. There's nothing more reassuring than knowing that your own flesh and blood are at the helm of the business while you're relaxing and getting away from it all.
Having all the family working together may not be everyone's cup of tea, but for us it works and our company is growing year on year as a result.