A Family Business for People on the Move
Brooke and Les Wilson are franchisees of Two Men And a Truck. The franchise started as a family business, and has grown to an international organization with more than 240 franchise locations. Les started with the company as a mover while in college and worked his way up to franchise ownership. Team Wilson runs multiple locations in three states, with 83 trucks and 300 employees. They are married without children, and are thinking about the future growth of both their family and business. I wanted to know the keys to running a successful relocation company as a family business. Here's what I learned:
It took some time for Les and Brooke to find a work-life balance. "Leaving work is a huge challenge. You spend 50 hours a week at work, and that's one-third of your life. During the first year, I thought this marriage was doomed for divorce," said Brooke. They've solved the demands placed on their time due to building a business several ways. They take many mini-vacations, such as days off in the middle of the week or on weekends. They watch movies, take time off to travel and refuse to check-in on the business or take phone calls when they're away. Having a strong support staff has been key to helping them maintain the boundaries they've set.
Emphasize independently owned and operated.
Les and Brooke try to emphasize that they are independently owned and operated. The fact that they run a franchise as a couple helps. Les shared, "Customers relate more to us as a husband and wife team, and it gives them the feeling that we are trustworthy." At the same time, they work hard to show the market that their business is not just a mom and pop relocation business. They assist with moving large homes, large businesses and corporate relocation.
Hire based on qualifications, not family status.
Les and Brooke will not offer employment to unqualified family members desperate for a job. It's a common debate among family business owners, but for them, it's a non-issue. Brooke shared, "We hire for the qualifications and need and then hold them accountable, whether they are a family member or not." Once they hire staff, Les and Brooke work hard to keep a personal connection to them. They work hard to provide a positive place to work no matter how fast they grow or expand.
Delegate tasks and define responsibilities.
There's a myth that family businesses are disorganized, more so than other businesses. That's not the case. Brooke explained, "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."
Delegating tasks and defining responsibilities helps to keep them passionate about the business and to work hard to achieve success.
Commit to community involvement.
Donating to the community where they have offices is not an after-thought. Brooke and Les plan to give to a different organization once per quarter, except the last two quarters are dedicated to planning for and donating to building and remodeling homes with the Fix-A-Home project. They also launched an annual drive to collect basic necessities for individuals and children escaping domestic violence in our Movers For Moms campaign. Although they are strategic about quarterly giving, they still give organically to other projects as the needs arise.
Brooke and Les enjoy being business partners. As co-owners, they balance each others strengths and weaknesses well.
"Your spouse is the person on the planet you can trust. You don't always agree but you do trust that they have your best interest at heart even if you don't agree," says Les. Brooke added, "I truly enjoy working with my husband everyday. Your goals are aligned. You both want more time and more money. The same things are motivating you to achieve your business goals."