They cook. They clean. They raise families — and they run franchises. Despite the challenges of juggling it all, somehow, they do. Franchisee moms are proving that it’s possible to be a successful business owner while raising a family. And not only do franchising and motherhood mix, but they have evolved to go hand-in-hand more than ever.
“There has been a natural evolution as more moms have discovered franchising as a great alternative to starting their own businesses from scratch,” says Dina Dwyer-Owens, chairwoman and CEO of the Dwyer Group Inc., a holding company for seven franchise companies, as well as a mom herself. Moms enjoy the flexibility and freedom that franchising gives them, while franchisors appreciate the qualities that moms bring to the table such as patience, diligence, commitment and a customer service orientation.
In between taking their children to soccer practice, answering business calls and arranging meetings, exactly how do franchising moms pull it off? We got three franchisee moms to pause long enough to share their best tips.
1. Set Priorities and Find a Happy Medium
Being a mom and a franchise owner can be overwhelming. But for someone like Jana Chamberlain, a mother to three sons and co-owner of 12 Sport Clips locations in Texas and Oklahoma, it can be downright chaotic. Chamberlain and her husband purchased their first store with the hair-care franchise in 2003 and have opened additional locations every year since. They currently have more than 100 employees and home-school their children two days a week. Chamberlain calls it “normal chaos.” However, by keeping her priorities straight and setting limits, she’s still going strong. “Just like in your personal life, you have to set priorities and boundaries in order to find peace,” she says. “Accepting the business as part of my life and routine, not as an external demand for my attention, was an important step for me personally in finding my way as a franchisee mom.”
Jodi Towns, owner of 10 til 2, a part-time, long-term placement service, has also had to find the right balance between her business and family. “You usually can’t be an effective franchise owner unless you are putting in the work, which often means working late at night when the kids have gone to bed,” she says. “Initially, it may be difficult to find that balance, but, usually, after some time goes by, you realize you have to make it all work. There have been days where I’ve had to tell myself, ‘Finish for the day; your family needs you and [the work] will be there tomorrow.’”
2. Know When to Ask for Help
Being a franchisee and a mom requires wearing many hats, and asking for help when it’s needed is crucial. “As moms, we want and are usually programmed to feel like we can do it all,” says Towns. “That was the case in my situation. However, as soon as I realized that I couldn’t do this alone and had to give up some of my responsibilities to other qualified people, my stress went down, and my business became more successful. Realize how much work you can do yourself, hire where you cannot, and ask everyone in the family to contribute to the household workload.”
Like Towns, Janelle Larson also knew when to ask for help. In order to be able to work on her franchise and not just in her franchise, Larson contracted with a copywriter, an SEO specialist and a computer technician, and hired a driver and a customer service representative. She also hired workers at home to help her with her lawn maintenance and house cleaning. By accepting and understanding that she simply can’t do everything, Larson is able to run her UNITS Mobile Storage, a mobile and portable storage franchise, in Milwaukee while raising two boys.
3. Involve the Family
While being a mom and a franchisee are two separate roles, Larson has been able to combine the two worlds in a way that benefits both. “Being a franchisee has helped our children see and experience what it is like to own and operate your own business,” she says. “They join in our conversations about work issues. They have learned about customer service, sales, financing, warehouse management, and taxation. They also help in the business by cleaning up at the warehouse and filing at the office.”
4. Take Advantage of Being Part of a Franchise
Buying into a franchise system has enabled these franchise moms to get up and running quickly. For Chamberlain, the support she has received with everything from opening a physical location to day-to-day operations has been invaluable. “Without the support and guidance that the franchise provides, many hours would have been spent trying to figure out best practices,” she says. “Every hour of the day is precious, so spending time wisely is key.”
For Towns, the access to knowledge and the flexibility that being a franchisee offers has enabled her to run a business and raise a family. “When leaving my corporate days and looking ahead to my next role, I knew I wanted to own my own business and quickly found that owning a franchise was perfect for me,” she says. “It allows me to have my own independence but not always be ‘reinventing the wheel.’ Following the success of other franchise owners has taught me how to be successful in my own business, and being a franchise owner allows me to still be flexible in my schedule while maintaining my role as mom.”
By setting boundaries, being willing to ask for help, intertwining business and family, and tapping into the resources and support provided by the franchisor, these franchisee moms running a business and raising a family are proving you can have the best of both worlds.
Sara Wilson is a freelance writer who specializes in issues related to small businesses. Contact her at email@example.com