Meet the owners who’ve found a formula for working successfully with close relatives
Sharon and Kieron Coleman (mother and son)
“Our business is an integral part of our family life,” is how Sharon Coleman describes her and son Kieron’s wholehearted approach to running their easyProperty estate agency franchise, which is backed by serial entrepreneur and easyJet founder Stelios Haji-Ioannou.
The pair launched their business in February this year and cover a territory that includes their hometown of Newbury in Berkshire, as well as nearby Didcot, Wallingford, Cholsey, Thatcham and all the villages through to Henley-on-Thames.
“We opened during lockdown, which is the worst time to start a new business,” says Sharon, who’s spent the last 20 years in the property market.
“But at least it meant we could do all the backroom work, so that when the country opened up again we hit the ground running.”
Sharon describes herself as selfmotivated and a strong communicator who thrives on a challenge, while Kieron is aiming to use his social media and networking skills to offer easyProperty clients “unlimited amounts of communication with timely, wellmannered information”.
“Kieron went to America on a football scholarship about eight years ago and has just finished his masters in business administration in California,” Sharon says.
“He was looking to go into real estate when he graduated, but due to COVID he had to return home to finish his masters online.
“I’ve been in the property industry for years, so when we were approached by Jason Bull from easyProperty, we knew this company was the perfect fit for us.
“I decided to buy the franchise because of easyProperty’s systems.
“Their valuation tool is by far the best I’ve ever used and their dashboard means clients can log on to this any time of the day to see how the sale of their property is progressing.”
Best advice for someone considering buying a franchise with a family member: Make sure you and your family are equally as passionate about the Mother and son venture, like Kieron and myself are.
Khaliq, Sadia, Nabiha and Sami Rahman and Owais Saad (father, daughters, son, son-in-law)
This family affair didn’t begin until five years after Khaliq Rahman opened his first TaxAssist Accountants practice in Hounslow in 2001.
Khaliq’s daughter Sadia became a partner in 2006, while his other daughter Nabiha joined the business with her husband Owais in a new franchise territory in 2019.
Khaliq’s son Sami currently lives abroad, but continues to have input into the business, which collectively looks after more than 850 clients from four premises in Middlesex. Khaliq says: “I’m really proud of the level of service the team has provided to our clients over the years, but particularly during the pandemic.
“We have worked tremendously hard since March 2020 to ensure every one of our clients was well looked after.”
And while today Khaliq takes more of a back seat role when it comes to day-to-day operations, he’s still heavily involved in making key company decisions.
“Every family member has their own role and responsibilities, with Sadia heading up operations, Nabiha overseeing admin and Owais looking after marketing and business development,” he says. “They all manage the team of staff that we have across our offices and shops.”
Khaliq and his family opened their latest shop in Uxbridge at the start of the year. Their plan is to open more outlets in Middlesex and grow the business past the 1,000 client mark.
“We saw a gap in the marketplace in Uxbridge for our services and we’re looking forward to assisting the small businesses in the area through the economic recovery and beyond,” he says.
Best advice for someone considering buying a franchise with a family member: Be fair and equitable to everyone if you do decide to purchase a franchise together and ensure you have clear and defined roles. Taking on a franchise has definitely been worth it for us.
Aneel and Shahzad Memon (brothers)
Aneel and Shahzad Memon came to the UK from Dubai in search of better life opportunities for their young families.
“It was crucial to find something that would provide for us all,” Aneel, who used to work in risk management for a bank, explains. “My wife, Rani, was included in the decision making too.
“We knew the opportunity to create a successful business would be much better in the UK and as neither of us have been in business before, it was crucial to get that extra support when setting up.
“Franchising provided the solution, so we both conducted our own research into the brands we liked the most.”
The brand they decided to invest in was international shipping and courier specialist PACK & SEND.
After completing their initial training, Aneel and Shahzad, who used to work in the oil industry, opened their franchise in the Hall Green district of Birmingham in January 2020. They’ve since taken on PACK & SEND’s Lincoln service centre too.
“We started from scratch with no knowledge of the freight and packaging industry, but we have no regrets,” Aneel says.
“We’ve learned every aspect of the business with the help of our master franchisee.” Their biggest challenge since becoming franchisees has been navigating the coronavirus crisis.
Shahzad says: “We went into the first national lockdown within 45 days of opening our first branch.
“There were times when we thought we weren’t going to make it, but with patience, family support and the business acumen of our brilliant employees we got through the worst times.”
The brothers are now busily developing their existing branches, with further expansion a possibility in a year or two’s time.
The best part of working in a family business is the closeness that’s experienced by many relatives, according to Aneel: “We know each other’s strengths and weaknesses, so the arrangement works very well for both of us.
“We’re also aware of our family commitments, so we can cover when one of us has to attend to family matters.”
Best advice for someone considering buying a franchise with a family member: Go for it, but only if you have patience. You have to be aware of each other’s shortcomings and develop the business accordingly. However, if you feel you can work together, running a franchise with family is wonderful.
In our case, it’s given us an important competitive edge and, along with our wives and kids, we are now closer as a family because we share a common goal, which is making our business grow.
Mark and Siobhan Molloy (husband and wife)
Soccer Stars Academy
Mark and Siobhan Molloy’s decision to become business owners was a classic case of discovering a gap in the market in their locality and comprehensively filling it.
Unable to find quality fun football classes for their three-year-old son Louie, the couple decided to set up Soccer Stars Academy in 2017.
Fast forward just over three years and their company is currently running 28 classes per week and coaching over 500 children aged between 18 months and nine years.
Soccer Stars Academy launched as a franchise in April this year and is currently looking to recruit franchisees across the UK.
Ex-professional footballer and PE teacher Mark explains: “We decided to franchise the business as it was the only way we could keep up with demand. We experienced rapid growth with our own territory and wanted to grow the business on a larger scale.
“We knew that to do this on our own would require a lot of effort and would take a lot longer.
“After we spoke to a franchise consultant to understand the ins and outs of it, we were told that we have a franchiseable business and at that point it was a no-brainer.”
To keep work and family life separate, Mark and Siobhan have dedicated work hours.
“Within those hours we are focused and very productive,” Mark says.
“Don’t get me wrong, it can be really easy to pick up your laptop at night when the kids are in bed to check emails, etc, but it’s something we actually don’t mind doing because we are passionate about making Soccer Stars Academy a success.”
Being in business for yourself can be lonely at times, so it’s good to have someone you can trust to share the journey with.
“We’re each other’s support system,” Mark says of the business relationship he has with his wife.
“When things are tough, we have each other to lean on and talk to and when things are great we have each other to celebrate with and enjoy the perks.
“We can also be really honest with each other, which I suppose you wouldn’t feel as comfortable doing with a work colleague.”
Best advice for someone considering going into business with their partner: If you can survive lockdown, you can survive anything. It’s the best decision we’ve made. Now we both benefit from a fantastic work-life balance, while making a great living. We make our own rules and don’t have to answer to anyone.
Jonathan and Matthew Nutting (father and son)
Making the most of their complementary skills and knowledge is the secret to Jonathan and Matthew Nutting’s profitable partnership.
Matthew was an occupational therapist within the NHS, while
Jonathan worked in finance for various organisations before the father and son bought Radfield Home Care’s Harrogate franchise in 2018.
Matthew says: “The overarching principle for us is within the family there is a level of trust you don’t get anywhere else. “I could have found an investor or business partner, but when it’s in the family you trust each other with the decisions made and how you conduct yourselves.
“It’s also about skill sets. I have no experience in finance, auditing, invoicing and HR and my dad has no experience in health care.
“Between us though, we have the two most important skill sets required to operate a home care business successfully because we can manage both critical elements well.
“By good financial planning, analysis and understanding of what’s happening with the business, it gives me the security to push forward without having to have the worry and stress of finances and vice versa for my dad.”
Of the decision to buy the franchise together, Jonathan says: “I thought it would be a good chance to work together and the thought of looking after our own money and our own business after spending my time looking after other people’s was well worth a punt.”
Matthew runs day-to-day operations and is the face of the franchise. His father’s role is more focused on back office functions, which are crucial to the business’ long-term prosperity.
“I was chatting to a friend of mine recently who went into business with a former colleague and he is always really conscious of looking like he’s pulling his weight,” Matthew says.
“He always feels like he has that pressure of working with someone, whereas with your family you can be honest.
“We both know we work hard, but we have other things in life that need to be done at certain times and we wanted to do this for the flexibility it gives you. There is no disguising things, which is a huge benefit of running a family business.”
Jonathan adds: “The key word is flexibility. But we also have the support of Matthew’s wife and mum, who help and assist us, and appreciate there is a work-life balance. Flexibility, respect and trust is what it’s all about.”
Best advice for someone considering buying a franchise with a family member: You have to understand what each member brings to the party. Duplication leads to confusion, so you need to be confident person A performs these roles and person B fulfils those roles. Plus, you must respect each other’s professional backgrounds and decisions.
Roxy Iftikhar and Ruky Hussain (sisters)
For Roxy Iftikhar, going into business with her sister Ruky Hussain is the second time she’s run a franchise with a family member.
Roxy and her husband owned Thomas Cleaning in Aylesbury and High Wycombe between 2014-2017, when they were made an offer for the business they couldn’t refuse.
Since then, Thomas Cleaning was bought by Darren Taylor of Taylor Made Franchising, which owns the StumpBusters, Wilkins Chimney Sweep and PVC Vendo franchise brands.
Roxy says: “A few months ago, the new owners of Thomas Cleaning Franchise approached us about starting up the business again.
“It was great timing, as Ruky and I were both looking for a business to run together. Ruky’s been nervous about returning to work after 19 years as a stay-at-home mum, so this seemed like the perfect opportunity for both of us and we’re really excited.”
The sisters split cleaning and admin tasks equally. Has their relationship changed since becoming business partners? Not according to Roxy.
“We are a family of seven siblings, so we’re used to fallings out, but they never last long,” she says.
“We have a strong relationship and I’ve told Ruky that even though I’ll take the lead initially because of my previous experience running the business, she’s to tell me if I’m taking over too much, as she may have better ideas and suggestions about how to do things than me. We’re in this together.”
For the time being, the sisters are focused on delivering a first class service to customers - their aim is to be a local trusted service provider that can be relied upon. “We plan to grow the business in a steady way,”
Roxy says. “A wrapped car is on our shopping list too, as previously 50 per cent of my enquiries came from people who had seen the car, so that’s a must.”
Best advice for someone considering buying a franchise with a family member: Make time to step back and work on your business, not just in it, otherwise you become so busy you don’t devote the time to growing it. Also, if you have a disagreement, talk it through - good communication is key.
British Franchise Association: Families in franchising campaign
With thousands of people across the country facing or having experienced redundancy during the pandemic, many have reconsidered what is important in their lives.
For some, this might mean freedom from commuting, for others it may mean spending more time with family.
Increasingly, people are turning to franchising as a way to do both.
Franchising with family members makes sense in many ways. For a start, it allows you to pool your resources, as well as collective strengths, skill sets and expertise.
The thought of setting up a business from scratch is daunting, especially when you look at the high failure rate of independent start-ups, which is why franchising could be an attractive prospect if you’re contemplating starting a family business.
The British Franchise Association will be running a Families in Franchising campaign in August, which will look in detail at the important considerations to take into account when going down this route.
In the meantime, there’s a host of resources available to those wanting to find out more on the bfa website: thebfa.org