Franchise Players: Terry and Lisa Jeffers on Running a Franchise With Your Spouse
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Franchise Players is Entrepreneur’s Q&A interview column that puts the spotlight on franchisees. This week, in honor of Valentine’s Day, we’re honoring power couples in franchising. If you're a franchisee with advice and tips to share, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Terry and Lisa Jeffers wanted to own a franchise that came from the heart. With experience in social services and management, the two teamed up to buy a Right at Home franchise. With the perfect combination of heart and business, the couple has learned the ups and downs of dealing with a true 24/7 profession. Here’s how they learned to run a franchise with someone who is more than “just” a business partner.
Name: Terry and Lisa Jeffers
Franchise owned: Right at Home in two territories (Rancho Cucamonga and Claremont) managed from an office in Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.
How long you have owned the franchise?
Four and a half years
The home care industry is one from the heart, and we knew we were well-equipped with our compassion and Lisa's experience with the disabled and senior communities. But owning and operating a business is a beast with too many heads to try to manage, from human resources, to taxes, to laws and regulations. We understood and appreciated the support that a franchise would provide.
What were you doing before you became a franchise owner?
Terry was the branch manager for a major truck leasing corporation. Lisa worked for the Dept. of Social Services in several capacities including assisting the disabled with their benefits, licensing and monitoring assisted living facilities and investigating adult and elder abuse.
Why did you choose this particular franchise?
We knew we wanted to partner with a reputable franchise with a solid business model to help us be the most successful in the shortest period of time. We researched and interviewed all the major franchises and Right at Home had the best combination of heart and business.
How was the process of becoming a franchise owner different for a couple versus and individual? It really was a huge leap of faith that our marriage would withstand the ups and downs of being business owners together! Because of our relationship, and our love and respect for each other, we didn't want to let the other down in any way. Our decisions not only impacted our business, they had the potential to completely disrupt our marriage and home life.
How much would you estimate you spent before you were officially open for business?
Franchise fee $45,000. Additional $75,000 for the office, supplies, taxes and fees, recruiting, training, marketing etc etc etc!
Where did you get most of your advice/do most of your research?
Terry did a lot of online research on all the major franchises. He then narrowed the list down to his top 5, at which time Lisa got involved. Lisa talked to her contacts in the disabled and senior care fields to get a good idea of who had the better reputations and provided better service. Meeting the executives of Right at Home headquarters in Omaha solidified that this was the company that best matched our values and goals.
What were the most unexpected challenges of opening your franchise?
A 24/7/365 industry means we did get calls at 3 in the morning, that a client would need TLC at a moment's notice, that a caregiver would have an emergency and would need a replacement in 30 minutes, that a family could only meet on a holiday. There is never the sense of relaxation, of being able to lock our doors at 5 p.m. on Friday and all would be quiet until Monday at 9 a.m. This isn't a widget business, it's a people business and we need to be accessible.
What have been the biggest challenges and positives of running a business with your spouse?
The challenge is staying married while seeing each other all day every day! Working with your spouse is different than "just" a business partner. If you don't live together and it's a tough day, fraught with challenges and disagreements, you can each go to your own homes and relax and recuperate in your own ways, and detox and refresh. But when you're married, you have to go home to the same home and deal with home issues too, like cooking, cleaning, laundry, errands, etc. It never ends. The business can consume your home life and we have to make a conscious effort to be marriage partners in addition to business partners. The positive is that we know each others' core values, we completely support and trust each other and we are pulling on the same rope. That makes the good days, the victories, the knowledge that we are helping our community, that much sweeter. It is so special and rewarding to know that we have built this business together!
What advice do you have for individuals and couples who want to own their own franchise?
For couples, assess your strengths and limitations and be brutally honest with yourselves about what you can and can't do, what you do and don't want to do in the business. Being upfront will help you determine if this really is a good fit for your personalities and skills. For individuals, your biggest challenge will be to find the person you can trust to work hard for and with you. As a couple, we already had a built-in coworker!
What’s next for you and your business?
Massive growth! The first two years, we ran this all on our own and were very successful! But now, we have four full-time and one part-time employees in the office and expect to skyrocket! We absolutely love being able to help our community with high quality care. Thanks to a staff we can trust, we might even be able to take a day off!