True Confessions

Balancing Act

Indeed, along with the hard work, sweat and tears a franchisee puts in can come some invaluable rewards: recognition, success, rewarding friendships, increased income and a feeling of self-respect. But long hours and pressure from the daily grind can also place a strain on family relationships, say many franchisees.

Ann and Jerry Swanson, franchisees of Bradenton, Florida-based sign-making franchise Signs Now, worked many 12-hour days when they opened their first Tulsa, Oklahoma, store in 1989. Since then, they've added two more Signs Now stores, one in Tulsa and the other in Wichita, Kansas. But with the addition of a well-trained staff, improved computer equipment and stronger customer service, Ann, 52, and Jerry, 53, only spend eight hours per day running their business. "The knowledge we've gained from running our prior stores, plus the new equipment we've purchased, have helped our business tremendously," says Ann.

Like the Swansons, most franchisees find there is a learning curve before operations begin to run smoothly. "When I started my business, I saw an opportunity to be very creative," remembers David Hotle, a franchisee with Stevenson, Maryland-based Sandler Systems Inc., a sales and management training franchise. "But I discovered very quickly that all my creative juices and time were being [wasted on] things that weren't making me a penny."

After purchasing his franchise in 1992, the former marketing executive spent most of his working hours coming up with new marketing ideas instead of getting out of his St. Louis office and selling his services. When he realized this was hurting his business, Hotle changed his focus and now spends more time hosting seminars and attending networking events. He also hired people to handle the long-ignored filing, record-keeping and bookkeeping.

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This article was originally published in the January 1996 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: True Confessions.

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