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Special Feature

Two’s company I

Taking on a franchise as part of a couple is a popular option – who better to have as a business partner than someone you love and trust already, writes Rhian Morgan

nvesting in a new career can seem daunting, even with all the help an experienced franchise can offer. But as more than a fifth of all franchises are now run by married couples – with a further seven per cent male-and-female joint-ownerships (NatWest bfa Franchise Survey 2011) – it’s obviously an option that’s working well, both for franchisors and franchisees Franchisors like the fact they are taking on a committed couple, dedicated to the family’s financial security, while the franchisees enjoy the security of having a shared future plan. It’s a point of view that the banks share. Those who may have had trouble securing finance for a new start-up might consider joining with their spouse in taking on a franchise. Cathryn Hayes, HSBC’s head of franchising, says: “Franchising is a great route into running your own business and many couples decide that they would like to operate a franchise together.

“As a judge on the bfa HSBC Franchisee of

the Year Awards, I’ve seen many successful couples win awards.” What does it take, therefore, to make a franchise work as a joint enterprise? Tom Endean, marketing manager for the British Franchise Association, advises: “Franchising, despite its many inherent benefits, still requires commitment and work from the franchisee. “In many cases, this also involves the support of the family around the main person. In a number of businesses, what has started out as background support from a partner leads to a partnership in business, as the other person becomes more involved.”

After forming your business, you will need to be putting in long hours together at the beginning and this could put pressure on the relationship but also help bond over the pursuit of a common goal.

And being part of a couple-strong business dynamic means you have greater flexibility. For instance, whenever there is a domestic crisis, this can be dealt with swiftly while one partner can still be at work, keeping things ticking over. Or you can decide that one of you can keep the financial security of another job in the initial stages while you’re building the business – while still having your partner’s input, saving on further staffing costs. Endean adds: “There are various cases of supportive partners seeing the business in action and quitting their own job to become a key part of the franchise.

“Not only does this make the business a

joint effort, which can result in a much greater success, but it also allows couples to both take control of their careers and spend more time together.

“This usually results in the couple naturally splitting responsibilities in the business based on their characteristics and core skills. “When one may be much better at the clerical and management element, the other may then be able to spend a lot more time building the business through work with new and existing clients.” Hayes agrees. She adds: “If you are starting a franchise with your partner, it’s important to get the business basics in place. You will need to agree from the outset who is responsible for different aspects of the business.” So, when the business takes off after all

your hard work, you can enjoy the satisfaction of having together achieved a successful enterprise, one which could eventually become

a legacy as you bring more family members on board. Caremark franchising and marketing executive Mary Wardell says: “Couples in franchising can bring something else to the table. If their skill sets are complementary, the dynamic can work well.” We talk to four couples who decided to keep it in the family by successfully mixing love and business.

Platinum Property Partners

Paul (55) and Linda Cronin (50), own a Platinum Property Partners (PPP) franchise in Lightwater, Surrey. The award-winning company has proved perfect for the couple, with Paul now enjoying a better work-life balance as a result.

Why, as a couple, did you decide to take on a franchise together? My wife was reluctant at first. Our three children had flown the nest for university and she wanted to go travelling. Linda had been a housewife while I’d been constantly travelling as a vice president of sales for a telecommunications company, so we wanted to do something together. However, we’d never been landlords before which was a concern but we were sure PPP would teach us.

Why did you decide to go into franchising with Platinum Property Partners? I was looking for [a franchise] that met my philosophy, which is based on Robert Kiyosaki’s

May 2012 | | 33

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