Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Q&A with Huy and Van Phan

1. The names, relationship (ex: wife or brother), titles of all family members being interviewed. Names of other members who are a part of the business, but not being interviewed. What is your city/state or Country?

o   Huy and Van Phan (Husband and Wife) – Gilbert, AZ

2. What makes your business a family business? (w/ spouse and/or children, siblings...)

Husband and wife

3. How did you come into the business? (transferred, hired by parents? Founder?)

Our business is a franchised location of The Goddard School. The location was transferred to us when we had the opportunity to buy an existing school to make it our own.

4. What makes your family business experience unique? How is it different from running a "typical" small business?

We really think of the children and families who attend our school as an extension of our own family and that is how we run our business.

5. What do you love about family business?

The great thing about a family business is the flexibility and freedom. We both fully commit to our work but also enjoy having the freedom to be with and take care of the family at the same time. Also, it is a very reaffirming feeling when we both focus on the same goal and try to do everything to achieve it. It’s very encouraging to have your significant other right by your side when you’ve worked as a team and reached a milestone.You constantly have your biggest cheerleader next to you!

6. What do you hate about family business?

The most difficult thing about running a family business is that it becomes challenging to leave work at work. The conversation spills onto the dinner table and the rest of the night. Our children get fed up sometimes (rightfully so). However, we eventually learned to not discuss work related things when our children are around unless they get curious and ask.

7. What's a myth about family business you'd like to debunk?

We have often heard to avoid conflict at all costs in a family business to ensure long-term survival of the business and the family itself. I am not sure avoiding conflicts would get you anywhere in life or in business.

Each member of the business team has a different personality, education, life experiences, etc. so inherently your business will produce different viewpoints, whichcanlead to conflict. If you avoid conflicts at all costs, how do you move forward? The way to deal with differences is to hear all sides and find the similarities in the different approaches. In the end, the objective decision that will further the business is the best bet – it’s about what will further the growth and mission of the business.

8. What three things have been key to your success?

I think it is critically important to always have your mission statement in front of you.For us, being a preschool, our mission is clear. It is keeping the children safe and collaborating with their families so that they become successful both socially and academically. The mission statement helps guide every decision we make and every activity we plan, big or small.


Additionally, the way you treat your customers can make or break your business. We have always felt that respect is key but now having operated a business for a number of years, it is even clearer that exceptional customer service is absolutely crucial. When we walk into a restaurant and are not immediately acknowledged, we look at each other with the same thought: "This could be the way we treat our customers, and it is unacceptable.”


Playing upon one another’s strengths has also helped us succeed. We understand where the other’s strengths may be better suited for particular tasks such as operations, customer-facing interactions etc. and support each other. Being honest and open with where we see room for opportunities or improvements is an important aspect of creating a dynamic that works both in and out of our workplace.

9. Would you advice others to go into family business?

If you are able to communicate honestly and effectively while complementing each other to create a successful dynamic, then by all means, yes! The rewards can be incredible.

10. What difference has being a family business made in your sales?

All you can rely on and control is the quality of your product and the level of your service. After we realized that and began focusing our efforts on what we offer and how we treat our families, our sales have steadily risen.

11. What difference has your family business made in your community?

We'd like to think we are making some important contributions to the community. First, we provide a safe place where parents can trust by leaving their children in our care. We know the parents entrust us with the most precious thing in their lives and we are determined to earn and keep that trust every day.


We also highly value giving back to our community. We contribute to many community charities when we can and have even had instances where we’ve been able to support some our families in their times of need. For example, when a parent lost herjob,we insisted sheleaveherchildren with us at no charge until shecould get back on herfeet.Eventually, she was able to. Her children received an uninterrupted education and a safe place to go. This family has never forgotten the support we offered – this is what it’s all about for us, creating genuine relationships with the families we serve. We came to this country as war refugees and would not have survived if it wasn't for the charity of others. It is only right for us to give that same generosity now that we are able to.


12. Would you advise a couple to start a business together? Why or why not?

The question to ask yourselves before you do is“What willgoing into business together do to your relationship?”


If you have a strong relationship based on mutual respect and love, chances are your marriage will survive anything, including the ups and downs of running a business together. It would also be wise to assess each of your strengths and weaknesses and determine if you balance each other out in order to meet the business’ needs. If that is the case, each one of you will be naturally drawn to a different part of the business, like two different department managers working in the same company, complementing each other instead of competing with each other.

13. Do you incorporate your children in your family business? Why or why not? How old are they?  What are their roles and responsibilities?

We think the decision to involve your children or not should be their decision. Sure, as parents, you can help them with resources or advice, but the final decision should be theirs without pressure from you. If they do want to go into the family business, again, they should have background and talents focused on different parts of the business. We have two daughters who each want to blaze their own trails and have no interest in our business. That is totally fine with us.

14. What's a day in the life of a family business (share a rough outline of your family and business daily life)?

Although we run this business together, we actually don’t see each other all too often throughout the day because we work different roles. I am the on-site operator and take care of all the school’s needs from the inside. I work with the teachers, directors and interact with the children and their families on a day-to-day basis. My husband, Huy, oversees the business side of things like strategy, marketing, vendors and banking relationships, accounting and reporting activities, recruiting, etc. Every so often, we plan a lunch date together, which is very nice.



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