Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Q&A with Two Men and a truck

1.       What is the name of your business?  TWO MEN AND A TRUCK
2.       Where is it located? I operate multiple franchises in the states of GA, NC, and the MD/DC area.
3.       Do you have a website(if so please list it)?
4.       What makes your family business experience unique?  I work with my husband.  He started with the company as a mover while in college at the University of SC (USC).  He worked his way up to franchise ownership.  When I graduated from USC, I worked as a Customer Service Representative during the peak summer season.  The position was intended to be temporary while I pursued a career in my field of study; however, I was drawn to the family aspect of the TWO MEN AND A TRUCK organization and decided to pursue franchise ownership instead. 
5.       How is it different from running a "typical" small business? When starting a small business, we wear many hats and are forced to be somewhat of a "jack-of-all-trades." As a business owner, we are responsible for marketing, advertising, finance, sales, and operations among many other tasks.   But, unlike traditional small business start-ups, Franchising has benefits.  Rather than a trial by fire approach to learning all aspects of business management, TWO MEN AND A TRUCK offered training and guidance to aid in our success.  Combined with our previous experience managing a franchise location, we were able to quickly grow in our new market by building positive team cultures and exceeding customer expectations.   The familial character of our venture introduced unique challenges and rewards. 
6.       What do you love about family business? 
I truly enjoy working with my husband everyday.  It took some time to find a work-life balance, but once we established some boundaries and rules the experience has been rewarding.  As co-owners, we balance each others strengths and weaknesses well. Our business success is a passion and commitment that we share, and has offered both personal and professional gain.  We are able to organize time-off and vacations without the burden introduced by variant employers.  
7.       What do you hate about family business?  I don't really hate anything about it.  The first year was tough... We struggled to leave work at the office.  I wondered what I had gotten myself into.  I didn't have a husband.  I had a 24/7 business partner. :o)  In a normal marriage, venting about a hard day at work is reciprocated with sympathy.  When you're both involved in the same work and passionate about what you do, venting turns into endless debate.  We worked together to delegate tasks and define responsibilities.  We committed to establishing boundaries - work stays at work, and once we leave the office work-talk ends.  This helped tremendously, and is something I wish I had had the foresight to know was needed before.     
8.       What's a myth about family business you'd like to debunk? Family businesses are not disorganized, or small.  Family businesses will not offer employment to unqualified family members desperate for a job.  And, business owners cannot take time off whenever they want.  TWO MEN AND A TRUCK started as a family business, and has grown to an international organization with over 240 franchise locations.  The success of our family businesses is contingent upon employing qualified, motivated, and professional individuals that are committed to working hard.  As owners, we are passionate about the business success, and work tirelessly to achieve success by investing in and empowering employees that exceed customer expectations. 
9.       What three things have been key to your success?  1) Treat everyone as I would want my grandma treated.  This includes customers and employees.  Happy employees make happy customers and drive business success.  2) Establishing boundaries with my business partner.  3) Opening multiple offices... It's nice to have an escape from the normal routine - and a break from my husband ;o)  Even without multiple locations, business owners involved with family definitely need to schedule escape.  It's too easy to get wrapped up in the day-to-day.    
10.   Would you advise others to go into family business? It takes a special person and a lot of communication.  I would definitely advise it.  The rewards are great.  Set boundaries, delegate responsibilities, and never fail to communicate.  Family business can be very successful.  
11.   What difference has being a family business made in your sales? As a relocation company, our business caters to families at a stressful time.  Being a family business helps us to view the service delivery experience from a familial perspective.  It has also enabled us to recruit individuals that have a common understanding and affection for family.  Our family culture has been maintained throughout the organization despite growth and expansion.  
12.   What difference has your family business made in your community? We are very committed to community involvement.  As a independently owned and operated small business, our communities are our customer base, employee base, and neighbors.  We work with many non-profit agencies on collection drives, and we provide in-kind donations with a focus on family support.  For example: we have helped build and remodel homes with the Fix-A-Home project.  We just completed a collection drive to provide care packages to families spending their holiday at DUKE Children's Hospital.  We have launched an annual drive to collect basic necessities for individuals and children escaping domestic violence in our Movers For Moms campaign.  These projects are a small sampling of our commitment to give back in our local communities. 
13.   Would you advise siblings to start a business together?  I don't know why it wouldn't work.  Communication and boundaries remains a key factor, as I think it would be when endeavoring on any business venture with any partner.  Family just adds some unique challenge, and you can't be reserved in "laying it out on the table."   
14.   Do you incorporate your children in your family business? I do not have any children.  But, my two dogs come to work with me everyday. :o) 
15.   Why or why not?
16.   How old are they? 
17.   What are their roles and responsibilities?
18.   What's a day in the life of a family business (share a rough outline of your family and business daily life)?  Like any professional organization, we have worked hard to establish organizational structure, normal routines, and reporting processes.  The only difference is that my husband and I ride to and from work everyday.  We are able to share lunch breaks when we chose to do so.  And, we can plan vacations without worry for variant work schedules.  On a day-to-day basis in the office, we function in much the same way as any other business owner.  We greet our employees, boot up our computers, respond to emails, check-in with managers, host meetings, pay bills, prepare reports, and respond to customers.    
19.   Do you think family business should be a priority for others (lawmakers, service providers, college students...)? Why or why not?  Family businesses provide opportunities for success.  The right balance of strengths, weaknesses, and personalities can make for the perfect recipe for business success.  More minds are greater than one.  What a family can bring to the table, a single individual cannot.  A family business also offers business continuity.  These features should offer lower risk to investors, financial institutions, etc. Investing family members that do not actively manage, do not currently have the same tax advantages of a managing partner. This can deter parents from contributing financial investment to encourage their children's aspirations. I do believe that this hindrance may be worth consideration at a political level.  New business of any type offers economic stability. Young entrepreneurs bring vitality and drive that is not usually matched by a retiring party.  The franchise industry is often viewed as large, corporate business by lawmakers.  In truth, franchises are often small, independently owned businesses licensed to operate under a trademark. Franchises are often operated by local individuals or families that have invested personally and financially. They carry the same risks and liability as small business owners, and should be treated as such when determining regulation and enforcement.     

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