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All in the Family: Managing a Franchise Business When Your Family Members Are Your Employees

  • September 22, 2016

Running a family franchise business can be tricky if you imagine it as an extension of your family’s at-home dynamics.

There clearly needs to be separation between the behaviors, attitudes, and relationships that exist between you and your family employees over the dinner table at Thanksgiving and in the workplace.

When properly utilized, there are a ton of advantages to taking close family bonds and moving them to a more professional setting. Consider this: Picking the right business partner, in general, is like trying to find the proverbial needle in the haystack. You need someone who’s dependable, trustworthy, loyal, and responsible; who shares your values; and who balances out your weaknesses.

That can be a tall order—unless you take on a few family members to handle the day-to-day logistics of your franchise location.

In this case, trust and accountability are there from the outset, and there’s a great chance that everyone in the family shares foundational values, especially if you’re considering going into business together. Who knows? Your quirks might even balance their strengths.

business partners

Effectively Managing a Family Franchise Business

As you’ll find out if you talk to another dynastic professional who’s passed the torch to the next generation, delegation is one of the biggest challenges when it comes to pulling off family business ownership.

Effectively Delegate Roles and Tasks from the Beginning

To avoid confusion, you need to step up and make clear to everyone their role in the franchise and the kinds of tasks (be specific!) that they’ll be carrying out on a day-to-day basis.

Many of the roles that family members end up doing in the context of family-run franchise locations can be undefined—and therefore potentially underappreciated.

Many franchisees delegating tasks to family members might run into this scenario: One family member whose role was clearly laid out from the outset gets all the credit, while another family member works behind the scenes to do necessary yet largely (or completely) unacknowledged work. The problem: A lack of role-setting and delegation. 

Make sure that you assign roles to each family member and that those roles match their previous experiences, aptitudes, and people skills.

Be realistic because being too optimistic (or too gloomy) in your appraisal of what each family member can do can cause you to underutilize your employees or, maybe worse, create resentment if one family member feels underappreciated or overworked.

Keep the Gossip and Personal Stuff Separate

Remember how we were talking about trust, accountability, and loyalty being qualities of family members?

Well, that’s true, but this can also create unexpected problems when you consider that you probably know a lot of the hidden psychology, quirks, and personal secrets of your spouse, children, brothers, sisters, or in-laws.

The surprising thing is that as much as we love our family, it can be easier to get upset and let it show with a family member turned employee than with a regular coworker.

Remember that when you show up to work each day, you’re there to carry out your job. One last tip: Consider taking a break from one another at the dinner table to allow time to recharge. Keep the conversation light and get ready to head back to a franchise you love!

What is the FDD?