Heir Raising

This family plans to make franchising part of its future for generations to come.
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This story appears in the February 2005 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Who says you can receive an inheritance only after the death of a loved one? Dave and Ellie Woodruff, 50 and 48, respectively, are setting things up so they can actually live to see their three children enjoy theirs. But rather than investing in a plot of land or a 10-year CD, the Woodruffs have chosen something their children will have to work hard to earn. After seeing Ellie's sister's success as a Meineke Car Care Center franchisee, the Woodruffs purchased a Meineke shop for their son, Michael, 26, and have plans to open two additional franchises for their daughters, Jennifer, 24, and Jillian, 19, in the next few years.

As the first beneficiary, Michael is thrilled with his parents' decision because it made his dream of owning a business a reality. He eagerly accepted the responsibility of being co-partner and shop manager of the franchise, which opened in Alabaster, Alabama, in July 2004. Dave handles the bills and occasionally helps out the three mechanics in the shop. Meanwhile, Ellie plans to eventually leave her bank job and help her son on a more regular, full-time basis. Working together has proved to be a positive experience. "When you have a family business and you're very close, there's an element of trust you might not necessarily find if you were dealing with someone on the outside," says Dave.

For more information on Meineke Car Care Center, visit Entrepreneur.com's Franchise Zone.

With 2005 sales projected to reach more than $500,000, it seems Dave and Ellie's plan will secure their children's futures. But they hope their gift will offer more than just financial wealth. "When you inherit money or a piece of property, that's one thing," says Dave. "But when you're able to give your child a thriving business and teach them how to be successful, how to make money, how to be in charge of their own destiny--to me, that seems much more valuable than just [having] an attorney hand [them] a check, saying, 'This is courtesy [of] your mom and dad.'"

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