Though it’s no longer common to pass a business down from parent to child, family businesses are still thriving. Running a business with members of your family — be it a spouse, a sibling, a child, or any combination — can be uniquely rewarding in many ways. And if you’re considering starting a family business, purchasing a franchise is a great option!
With the business model all figured out for you and plenty of support from your franchisor, you and your family members are free to put your time and talents to work running your business and growing your customer base.
Here’s what you should know about running a family business according to PostNet entrepreneurs!
Derek and Keith Wachter, Aurora, CO
Family members have a unique relationship that translates well into the world of business. You already know just about everything there is to know about each other — flaws and all — which means you know how to communicate and work well together. The trust that develops from this deep understanding of one another is difficult to find in any other relationship in life.
Derek Wachter runs a PostNet center in Aurora, CO together with his father, Keith. Keith has owned the center since 1999, and hired his son as an employee when Derek was in high school. Responsibilities gradually shifted to where the two are now business partners, with Derek officially taking ownership of the center in 2020.
Derek describes his working relationship with his father as one that’s built on trust and openness. “My father and I have the ability to be genuinely raw with each other in situations when it would be hard to discuss with any other staff member… we can trust each other to be understanding in times of adversity.”
Debbie and George McKinley, a married couple who co-own a PostNet center in Buckeye, AZ, agree that it’s reassuring to have a trusted partner in business with you. Debbie says her favorite thing about working with her husband is “knowing we have each other’s back. In anything we do together, after being married for 30 years, it is reassuring to know that we have the same long term goals and are heading in the same direction.”
In addition to co-owning a PostNet in Scranton, PA, Matt Keisling and Sarah Snyder are siblings, and second-generation family business owners (their grandfather, father, and uncles ran a plastics corporation together). “What I like best about working with Matt is that we trust each other and our instincts,” Sarah says. “That is sometimes difficult to come across in a business environment. We have very different perspectives on how to run a business … Because we trust the other sibling has the best intentions, it works out for us.”
Sometimes, the most important thing your partner can provide is the confidence and support you need to thrive. Tammy Salter and Martha Taylor, a married couple who co-own a PostNet center in Hurst, TX, find that moral support in each other. “We can bounce information off each other, but at the same time not tell each other what to do or how to run our business,” says Tammy. “[Martha] is my biggest cheerleader, she doesn’t let me quit!”
Ron and Irene Fenolio, Henderson, NV
It’s rare that family members are exactly alike. But by taking the right approach to a partnership between relatives or spouses, your differences can become an asset rather than an obstacle. Being able to complement one another and bring different skills to the table is hugely valuable as business partners.
Most family members naturally gravitate toward one side of the business — the more outgoing one might handle networking and customer service, while the detail-oriented one might focus on financials or improving processes.
“Before starting a family business, know what roles each of you will play,” advises Tammy, who focuses on managing employees while her wife Martha, an accountant, helps out with the numbers.
Kathy and Terry Stokes, a husband and wife who co-own a center in Steamboat Springs, CO, also recommend dividing up responsibilities from the start based on skill sets and natural abilities. “If you both try to learn all aspects of the business, then you will step on each other’s toes,” warns Kathy. “It is best to choose your areas of expertise and stick to that.”
Married couple Irene and Ron Fenolio, owners of a PostNet in Las Vegas, NV, find that their differences in personality bring the perfect balance needed to manage their center. “Ron’s skills are task-oriented,” Irene says. “He is very good at getting things done in a timely manner and has great customer service skills.” Meanwhile, with 17 years in the telecommunications industry, Irene handles the marketing and networking side of the business, as well as print production.
Dianne and Craig Garries, a husband and wife team who own a PostNet in West Kelowna, British Columbia, have a similar arrangement. “We both have defined roles within the business, which allows us to specialize in our areas of expertise,” Craig says. “I’m very involved in networking groups and the business community, and Dianne is very good with customer service.”
Terry and Kathy Stokes, Steamboat Springs, CO
A flexible lifestyle is a big selling point for many on business ownership. But sharing the business with your significant other or family member can provide even more opportunity to take advantage of this perk. Kathy describes her partnership with her husband Terry by saying, “We can cover for each other when one of us wants to go play. He golfs, I ride horseback, and we ski together. We both love the flexibility to do what we want, take the time off when we want, and, because we are best buddies, we get to hang out together a lot.”
Flexibility was also a driving force for Matt and Sarah to consider becoming business partners. “I was a stay at home mom, and Matt was commuting about 2.5 hours one way to work daily,” Sarah says. “We decided it was time to start working for ourselves.”
Purchasing a franchise business with family members means you know each other’s lives outside of the business well, and can work together to maintain that coveted work-life balance.
Debbie and George McKinley, Buckeye, AZ
Of course, our interactions with our loved ones don’t always go smoothly — and it can be a challenge to spend TOO much time together. Relationships inevitably get complicated when our lives are intertwined to such a degree. But all family business teams find ways of keeping their relationships harmonious and productive.
The secret to the McKinleys’ success is setting boundaries around downtime. “Have designated hours, kind of like business hours, that are set for business talk,” Debbie recommends. “Try to avoid talking business out of those set hours. When it’s not business hours, turn off your phone! Concentrate on your time with your spouse or family.”
Derek and his father Keith take similar measures to protect their relationship from the stresses of work. “I recommend that you meet outside of work to make sure that your relationship remains as family and you don’t adopt the mentality of coworkers,” Derek says. “My father and I meet for lunch or dinner at least once a week when we can talk sports and about our lives. This keeps our relationship strong, which carries over to more productivity at work.”
Communication is also key. Sarah says when she and her brother Matt disagree, they focus on resolving their differences and don’t let it get in the way of their work. “Fights can be colorful, but we are the type of family that discusses the problem and moves on from it. We were taught that even if we had a problem with each other, the business must come first.”
All in all, running a franchise as a family business brings unique challenges — yet the satisfaction that comes from your shared accomplishments is worth the effort to overcome them.
Are you interested in starting a business with your significant other, sibling, parent, or child? We can help! Request more information on PostNet and we’ll get in touch to share everything you need to know to make the right decision.