Four franchising families share how they stick together through the challenges and triumphs
By Karen Stevens
When faced with challenges in difficult times, it can be an immense help to lean on loved ones for support and guidance. No one knows this better than families who operate franchise businesses together, who benefit from the built-in support system that comes with working with your nearest and dearest.
Here, Franchise Canada introduces you to four franchising families who share how they work together to overcome obstacles, while also making sure to celebrate their successes.
TWO MEN AND A TRUCK Canada
Husband-and-wife team Chi and Cynthia Nwajiaku are the proud owners of a TWO MEN AND A TRUCK moving franchise in Calgary, Alberta. Before going into franchising, Chi was a logistics professional and Cynthia was a human resources manager. Balancing their schedules was problematic. Today, they’re able to spend time together while working and they’re able to arrange their schedules around family events.
The transition to working together went smoothly because of clearly defined roles. “We know our different strengths and constraints and always discuss issues beforehand,” says the couple.
Getting the franchise up and running involved a few hurdles. “The biggest challenge we faced was finding a source of capital to allow our new business to get on its feet and grow,” the couple recalls. For example, the approval for truck financing took longer than expected; however, they were able to rely on the franchisor for support. “They reached out to the banks to provide support through the loan application process,” they explain.
Along with so many other small businesses, the COVID-19 pandemic has had a huge impact on operations. “We’ve had to innovate by offering contact-free services such as virtual in-home move estimates, contact-free delivery of moving boxes and supplies, and Kick it to the Curb contact-free junk removal services,” they explain. Additionally, their office and vehicles are thoroughly cleaned and disinfected every day and they ensure that movers are taking every precaution to stop the spread of COVID-19.
The couple has some practical advice for those considering going into franchising with family members. “Select a winning brand that provides excellent support, and, when working with a family member, make sure everyone is on the same page as it relates to the long-term goals of the business.”
Jody Anderlich and Ricardo Pereira, owners of a Lice Squad.com franchise that services Brampton, Vaughan, Woodbridge and the surrounding area in Ontario, were drawn to the business because it allows them to support their community with head lice removal services, community education about head lice, and pesticide- and chemical-free products. “We wanted to offer a service that is specifically beneficial for families and children; we felt very strongly about this franchise idea,” says Jody.
The couple was also interested in the strengths of the Lice Squad.com franchise system. “The branding is very present and strong within the community, the products and services have already been developed, and they continue to innovate,” Jody says.
The pair loves working together. “Being in business with my life partner and best friend is ideal because we always are looking out for each other’s best interests,” Jody explains. She says that one of the biggest benefits of franchising with a family member is they can problem solve and brainstorm anytime. “Our family life and our work life just kind of blends together.”
However, this benefit can sometimes be a challenge, too. “Usually, if you have differing opinions or disagreements, they get left at work when you go home for the day, whereas in this situation disagreements come home with you, so you have to find a way to work on that,” Jody advises.
COVID-19 has presented a big challenge for the business, as they had to temporarily close their clinics. However, the couple adapted with virtual consultations and contact-free delivery of the products. “We’re also using this opportunity to fine tune our online marketing and prepare our clinic for when we are back up and running,” Jody says.
If you’re thinking about going into franchising with a family member, the couple has some key advice: “You want to work with someone who complements your strengths and weaknesses and provides a balance,” Jody recommends. “Develop a solid plan ahead of time with clear expectations for everyone involved. That way you’ll be less likely to have issues further down the road.”
Before joining MaidPro, Barbara Szymanski spent 17 years working her way up the ranks in a global QSR chain where she got to see firsthand how following a franchise’s system leads to results. “When we came across MaidPro I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do quite yet, but I knew I wanted to be my own boss,” she recalls.
Along with her husband Wade, they made the decision to go with MaidPro because they were really impressed with the leadership and business model. “I knew that if we copied the model, then we would be successful as well,” Barbara says.
Barbara started the business on her own first, and Wade helped with the finances on the side while he ran a mortgage brokerage. At the beginning, Barbara covered everything from sales to marketing to customer service to training, but it got to the point that she had to hire someone. Since Wade was on the fence about continuing in the mortgage business, “We had a conversation and decided he would come on board full time so that we could grow the business together,” Barbara recalls.
The couple says part of their success is owed to their clearly defined responsibilities. Wade takes care of the finances and Barbara takes the lead on the operations, sales, training, and customer service.
When the COVID-19 crisis first hit, they were concerned, but they soon realized that as a detailed cleaning company, they were already ahead of the game. “We just had to tweak a few little procedures here and there and add a few little things,” says Barbara.
The franchisor was a big help with daily COVID-19 update meetings and a fast turnaround on new training materials. “They really did pull together and really tried to be available as much as they possibly could for everybody,” says Barbara.
Nine years into their business, the couple offers this advice for franchisees: “Decide who’s doing what and then stay in your lane,” advises Wade.
Even before they immigrated to Canada, the Ramroop family had decided that they wanted to own and operate a family business. “We were confident that with the pooling of our complementary skills, we were well positioned to build a successful business,” says Sharon, or “Mom,” as her family and customers like to call her. Sharon, her husband Winston (“Pops”), son Deven, and daughter-in-law Hema all work together at their location in Brampton, Ontario.
The family chose a Speedy Auto Service franchise because of its 60-year legacy in the automotive business, as well as the company culture. They like being part of the Speedy Auto family for its brand recognition, centralized marketing, and the support of other local franchisees to maintain customer relationships.
In order to keep the shop running smoothly, everyone has defined roles. Deven is the overall manager while Sharon is responsible for developing and maintaining the customer relationships. Winston manages the garage/repair area and inventory and Hema assists with staffing.
“Decisions are made as a team and are based on everyone’s input,” says Sharon. She notes that while opinions might differ from time to time, they’re all working toward the same goal. “We aren’t simply just building a business but rather are focused on building a legacy we hope to pass down,” she says.
According to Sharon, working with family has both benefits and unique challenges. “You know your family has your back and your best interest at heart,” she says. However, “There are always times where you disagree, but these are always internally worked out.”
COVID-19 has created new challenges for the business. They’ve seen a decrease in business since there have been fewer cars on the road. Plus, they implemented safety measures such as barriers to protect both staff and customers, face masks, sanitizer, and handwashing sinks.
Sharon has some practical advice for potential franchisees: “Ensure that you have a work plan, strong work ethics, and that you make the time to constantly revisit the plan to stay on track.”