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The Ties that Bind


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I’m trying to imagine 21-year-old son Ben and 16-year-old son Sam working together some day in the future. I’m having trouble with that picture. When Ben was home from college for winter break in December, we had a typical Minnesota snowstorm and both boys had to shovel the driveway. In the end, it didn’t come to fisticuffs, but I had two frustrated guys after the driveway was cleared.

One of them was out there first, so automatically he had already done more than his brother and wanted it to be “fair.” Then there was general critiquing of the other’s work, and a momentary work stoppage when the laborers wanted to report each other to management (a.k.a. mom and dad). The management team didn’t use a typical management technique such as positive reinforcement. It was more an exasperated, “Could you guys just quit fighting and do it?” Later that day, they were calmly watching a football game together, discussing their take on the latest play.

Before I get too sanctimonious about them, I can’t imagine my older brother and me working together, either. Maybe for a little while, but he is my big brother and old habits die hard. I can’t envision him not bossing me around some, and me not being annoyed. Perhaps we’ve grown up and I’m not giving either of us enough credit. After all, we are both adults in our 40s. Then again, it’s best we just have fun and nix the working together.

As you may know, at Franchise Times we are covering family owned and run businesses because there are special dynamics—and challenges—at work in these companies. This issue is no exception, with our cover story featuring Jane Abell, president and COO of Donatos Pizza. FT Executive Editor Nancy Weingartner interviewed her, and it turns out pizza sauce courses through Abell’s veins.

 


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Mary Jo can be reached at 612-767-3200 or at mlarson@franchisetimes.com

 

As Nancy reports, Abell’s father, Jim Grote, started the business when she was a small child and the family lived in back of the pizza parlor. It wasn’t uncommon for customers to sit at the Grote kitchen table while they waited for their pizza takeout. Didn’t everyone have their customers over for dinner daily? As she and her siblings grew, being part of the family business was a matter of course. Before I give away any more, there are some interesting twists in the Donatos story, and you won’t want to miss reading about them.

One of the constant struggles franchising faces is the lack of capital. The one thing that is consistent about the SBA-guaranteed loan market, for instance, is that it is always changing. FT Reporter Jonathan Maze gives you the most recent news on that capital source, and others. Contributing writer Julie Bennett covers a case study of one new franchisee’s struggle to get financed. Even with above-average credit, a nice equity contribution and more, he had to take extraordinary measures to get his doors open. More than ever, good financial information is power in today’s business world.

Nancy and the editorial staff have packed this issue full of other useful information for you to run your business better, from negotiating better deals on real estate, a new tax law where small businesses save and the case for continual training for franchisees. In fact, columnist Dennis Monroe goes one step further and advises franchisors on how to know their franchisees better by understanding their financial standing. He then lays out step by step what that understanding actually entails. In the end, this gives the franchisor a head start on helping a franchisee before it is too late.

Don’t roll your eyes, but franchising is like a big family, intertwined and connected: franchisees, franchisors and vendors. Okay, sometimes crazy Uncle Larry embarrasses you at the holiday dinner, and Great Aunt Hazel likes to talk about her bunions too much. And of course, there are times you don’t get along with your sister Sally. But in the end, you have to all get along and share to make it work. If you don’t, no one wins, and you may have to shovel your way out by yourself. And that’s no fun. Just ask Ben and Sam.

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