We are family

Starting, leading and working in a family business can bring valuable benefits compared with other businesses. However, without careful management there can also be problems – from family members lacking critical skills and poor communication to clashes over pay

Family businesses provide a number of advantages to family members, the most common being freedom, independence, control, common values, strong commitment, loyalty, flexibility and decreased costs due to family members more willing to make financial sacrifices for the sake of the business.

Franchising has long been a multi-generational affair, but in these uncertain economic times, even more families are using it to create a secure future for their children, spouses, siblings and extended family members. Here are some franchise owners who would agree that family and franchising could be the perfect combination to successfully secure their futures.

Bill & Andy Easter, Autosheen

Bill Easter and his son Andy (pictured top) took the decision to go into business together when Andy returned from travelling, determined not to return to his former role as a motor mechanic. He had always loved cars and spent many hours keeping his vehicle in absolutely pristine condition, so car valeting seemed an attractive option.

Bill, a former optician, found retirement boring and was eager to become involved in the launch of a new business, so father and son looked for the perfect opportunity together.

“My career as an optician taught me the power of a dominant brand,” Bill explains. “So with that in mind, we chose Autosheen because within the mobile valeting marketplace, it stood out as a strong, well-established and respected brand.

“We launched in a tough market, but we never expected it to be easy,” he says. “We’ve put in the hard work and with plenty of support from Autosheen, it’s now really starting to roll. There’s plenty of business coming in – and we certainly have no regrets about deciding to work together!”

Bill concludes: “We get on really well and we each have clear roles. I look after marketing and admin, while Andy does all the actual valeting – although obviously I’ll help him if he’s really busy. I’d definitely recommend a family business – and definitely recommend Autosheen!”

Mark & Amanda Edmans, Dream Doors

Siblings Mark and Amanda Edmans (pictured right) find running a Dream Doors franchise together has as many benefits to the business as it does their own personal lives.

“Most Dream Doors franchises are run by husband and wife teams who bring the income into one household, and that can be the ideal set up for a franchise such as this,” says Mark. “What’s great for us is that, because we aren’t a couple and we lead separate lives away from the business, we can take time off independently and leave the other to look after the business.

“It’s great having Amanda in the business with me,” continues Mark. “As my sister I trust her implicitly and have no issues with passing on any confidential business information. I also know that family will put more effort into this business than an employee who, when 5pm on a Friday comes along, will forget about Dream Doors until Monday morning.”

The Gethin family, ServiceMaster

When Paul Gethin was made redundant, he found alternative employment straight away but he and his wife, Jayne, continued to look for a business opportunity in order to take control of their own destiny.

“We looked at franchising because neither of us had run a business before and felt that with franchising we would gain the support,” explains Jayne.

“We made a decision to invest Paul’s redundancy money to purchase the ServiceMaster licence and that I would take the business forward on a full time basis, while Paul would continue to stay in his job and help as much as he could.

“In 2010, our daughter Lianne, 20, started working for the business and our son Jonathan, 21, followed just under a year later, both part-time. Now in our seventh year, Jonathan and Lianne have had plenty of opportunities to get involved in the business and Lianne initially did some cleaning before moving into the office.

“As a family we understand each other and work well together. It is also in Jonathan and Lianne’s interest for the business to succeed – it is part of their future.”

Paul & Robert Clift,ChipsAway

Paul Clift (pictured right with Robert) faced redundancy before joining ‘on-the-spot’ car repair franchise ChipsAway three years ago. Within 12 months of launching his business, demand had increased so much that he needed to gear up and expand, taking on a second territory and an additional vehicle – enabling his son Robert to help him in building a strong family enterprise.

“Robert joined me straight out of school, to help with the business,” Paul explains. “He absolutely loves it and wants to take a bigger role, which is fantastic as demand for our services has continued to grow strongly.

“From day one, I had work lined up for about three weeks ahead,” recalls Paul. “Since then, I have always had a full diary. Our reputation has spread by word-of-mouth and recommendations account for at least 30 per cent of all our new business leads. My ChipsAway business is doing really well and working with Robert is great – we’re both really excited about the future and growing the business even further!”

The Watts family,Ovenclean

Little did Mike Watts suspect when he first invested in an Ovenclean franchise that after four years, his business would become a real family affair, first involving his wife Janeane and subsequently his sons Byron and Daniel.

“It wasn’t my intention to build a family business as such,” he says, “but I’m so glad that we’re all working together with shared goals and a shared commitment to the future – we love it!”

Year-on-year, the Watts’ Ovenclean business has grown. Although there was a short ‘blip’ when the credit crunch first kicked in, things have picked up for them in leaps and bounds – in fact, they have expanded to take on a second territory and are thinking of adding a third van.

Janeane concludes, “We’re more confident than ever now we have the boys on board and we’re looking forward to growing our fantastic family business even further!”

Written by Tiffany Brooking