Traditional family businesses were often handed down from generation to generation but more commonly now families choose to work together in a Franchise.
This may be something they decide to jointly do together as a partnership or one or more members work in a supporting capacity such as administration, finance or customer relationship management in the business.
There’s a fine line of where the family relationship ends and the business one begins and this can sometimes cause problems and ultimately affect the growth of the business, not to mention cause personal angst.
Think very carefully before entering into either a partnership or working relationship with family members, be it parent, spouse, sibling or even grown up children. It requires both discipline and emotional distance to ensure both relationships are protected.
One of the best ways is to clearly define roles and responsibilities in the business, as you’d expect with any business. You’d hope your boss wouldn’t jot down your job description on the back of a shopping receipt at the kitchen table. Nor would an employee disrespect the opportunity by rolling in when they liked with a stinking attitude. So many family businesses treat their working day as an extension of their home life but to thrive long term this must not be permitted.
As seen quite often on TV programs such as Channel 5’s The Hotel Inspector, where Alex Polizzi often advocates the need for a definite line between family and business relationships, one cannot affect the other for a moment.
So, if you’re already working with your family or considering it for the Franchise you’re thinking about then here are some practical tips you might find helpful:
Roles and Responsibilities. Create a description or what each person is responsible for and how this will be reviewed on a regular basis.
Leave it at the Door. As you begin work, leave your personal life until later, unless it’s absolutely relevant to the day, such as organising an out of hours appointment or something else. Too many businesses miss crucial opportunities for sales and growth due to niggling and disagreements getting in the way of trading. Likewise, when the working day ends, step through the door of your home as a family member. Yes, it’s ok to chat through your day as long as it doesn’t turn into a business meeting or worse a heated discussion!
Avoid Pecking Order. With roles and responsibilities clearly defined, family hierarchy can be prevented. This is where the family role supersedes the business one and either undermines or greatly affects the situation. With a Mum and Daughter, the Mum will need to be very aware of not slipping into the protecting, nurturing role. With siblings, the elder must still respect and listen to the younger especially when being held accountable for responsibilities within the business.
Business Free Zone. At least one day a week, agree to have a business free zone where you get together and enjoy a meal and socialise as a family. No ‘shop talk’ whatsoever! It can be hard, and you’ll all need to be strict to make it work. You could even have a ‘talkingshop jar’, a bit a like a swear jar so anyone mentioning business has to put a £1 in. It makes it fun and is one of the quickest ways to keep the day strictly family only.
I personally think working with family is an incredible experience, especially if you already have a great relationship and synergise together. But it still takes constant attention and discipline to protect your business and your family ties.