07 April 2016

Succession planning for your franchise

Planning ahead for our family’s financial future is something we have all thought about at some stage, and understandably want to get right. Here at Bedshed, we see many examples of a franchise as a sustainable business, but it doesn’t have to stop with you. A franchise can be a great family business that your children or other family members can take part in, and eventually take over.

However, how do you make this transition smooth; ensuring family members are comfortable and able to take over the family business when the time comes?

Ingrid Alexander and her husband Stewart from Bedshed Morley and Malaga, have been involved in Bedshed for eighteen years. Seven years ago they brought sons Simon and David into the business, who are now involved in the day to day running of both stores. Ingrid shares her three top tips on how to successfully manage succession in your franchise.

Have upfront open and honest conversations

There is no point in pushing your children or family members to be involved in something they are only half-heartedly interested in (we should know this already from their younger years!). Make sure that joining the family franchise or business is something they are really willing and committed to being a part of. In our case, we approached Simon and David, who were 32 and 27 respectively at the time, and asked if they wanted to join us in the franchise. We made sure they felt no obligation in saying yes – we had open and authentic discussions about their willingness to leave their current jobs for something they had never done before. The final decision was completely theirs and we were clear about the role they could play from the outset.

Be clear on the decision making process

This is something I believe to be vital in determining how you will get along with your children or family members in a business environment. Every business has a different decision making process, and there isn’t necessarily a right or wrong way, just as long as you’re clear upfront with who and how you will make a final call. Our family thrives in a collaborative environment where everyone has a say in the final decision, whether that be around stock purchases or who attends the next Bedshed buying trip. This was all made pretty clear at the start of Simon and David joining the business. We give constructive feedback where necessary, and utilise each other to bounce around our thoughts and ideas.

Play to all your strengths

Before my husband and I started working with Bedshed, we had no franchising or retail experience. However my previous banking skills and accounting experience from working as a merchant banker, together with the sophisticated and thorough training provided by Bedshed, meant that we were well on our way to starting a successful franchise. Simon worked previously as a mechanic, and David as an IT management consultant, so both had the people and customer service skills required to work in a retail franchising environment. With a bit of training and coaching at the beginning, they are now both completely capable of running things on their own, giving Stewart and I the flexibility to work the hours that suit us. I have no doubt that when I am ready to retire, they will be just fine without me.