Keeping it in the family

What to consider when going into business with a family member.

Keeping it in the family

Franchise networks are often compared to families when it comes to the level of emotion involved and the depth of relationships formed – not to mention some of the challenges that such dynamic units face! Joining a collective of likeminded, ambitious people from all walks of life is very much reminiscent of the bonds you share with those closest to you in your personal life. But what if you that likeness isn’t just implied – what if you really do go into business with a family member? As with all businesses, there are occasional hurdles to overcome in order to maintain a harmonious and successful relationship. Here, Frank Milner, the president of in-home and online tutoring franchise, Tutor Doctor, discusses what to consider when franchising with your family. 


If not monitored and mediated, conflicts in the workplace may carry over to your personal life, creating rifts between family members if the disagreements are momentous enough. It is imperative that, before anything is signed, sealed and delivered, candid conversations have taken place between all parties, and you understand that things must never get ‘personal’. Even establishing a set of rules to follow can be beneficial. Differing views are a natural in business, but as partners, you must never turn those disagreements into conflicts. A franchise can be an exciting venture with those you love, and many of the most successful partnerships are forged through professionally challenging one another.  



As a franchisee, your role will involve making sure every member of your team is engaged, feels appreciated and knows how valuable they are to your business. When franchising with your family, be sure your other team members do not feel left out of what makes your business a special place to work, such as events, the day-to-day operations, and even smaller things like inside jokes! But this should also be considered when having to make difficult decisions. Family or not, is everyone in the team pulling an equal weight? Bias can create toxic working atmospheres and can lead to mistrust from your team if biased treatment becomes detrimental to the operations of your franchise. 

Remain open

This is also true to how much non-family members are given the opportunity to contribute to the bigger picture. Non-family members are crucial to the success of a family-run business, as they will be able to offer a new ideas, an alternative, creative spin and a fresh pair of eyes. Giving non-family an equal chance to progress in a family business truly shows how valued they are to your operations, and significantly reduces the risk of ‘groupthink’ – a consensus of opinion, without critical reasoning, that can be common in family-run businesses where those leading operations naturally share common interests.

Shared goals and vision

Of course, a huge positive to family franchising is that you have the opportunity to share your goals and vision with those you trust the most – and who feel probably as passionate as you do about achieving them! However, a family run business, by its very nature, does also suggest that the whole top-tier of operations will have closely intertwined personal lives. For this reason, it is important that you set your franchise up to succeed in your absences, with family holidays, new babies, illnesses and other situations coming into consideration.

Planning ahead

Studies have shown that just 42% of UK family businesses have any form of succession planning in place1. This indicates that professional family relationships can become too focused on the ‘here and now’. In this case, the franchise industry becomes even more valuable to your business, with your ‘work family’ helping guide you to do what is best for your actual family. Using the wider network and the franchisor to help you plan ahead is an important element to operations and gives teams an idea of scalability, growth and development.

The best way of navigating a professional relationship between family members and deriving the maximum benefit for all parties is to ensure that the venture is planned carefully, and practical advice is sought. It is by no means impossible to forge an incredibly successful professional relationship with a family member. But there are important factors to consider. Remember, once the professional bond is established, the line remains drawn between your personal and professional relationship. Franchising is the ideal route to follow for families, with your franchisor and wider network supporting your professional development and helping achieve the highest success possible.

1Owen Gough, 2018, Are Britain’s family businesses at risk?

Frank Milner
Frank Milner