April 2013

When Kids Become Employees: How to Manage Offspring in the Family Franchise

Summer break is in full swing, which means high school students on summer vacation are searching for a way to make a bit of extra cash. Many franchisees take on their teenage kids as business employees, looking to save on expensive summer camps and give kids some valuable hands-on work experience, as well as a better understanding of the family business. Hiring offspring certainly isn’t for everyone. The very thought of having a son or daughter as an employee is enough to make some franchisees cringe. Still, the practice does have a number of advantages. If you want the summer to go smoothly, be sure to take the following pieces of advice into consideration before you agree to take on a son or daughter as an employee.

Make expectations crystal clear. Don’t just bring your child in to “help out.” That’s a recipe for disaster. “Often entrepreneurs are fairly shallow in writing up a formal job description, so they probably tell the child, ‘I’m going to have you do some of this and some of that’ and then they start adding things that the child didn’t know they were supposed to do,” business expert Michael Neuendorff explained. Before you bring your kids into your business to work, sit down and have a frank conversation with them. Clearly outline their responsibilities. Tell them what tasks you expect them to complete, as well as how they should be completed. The key to success is clearly defined expectations. This will give kids more ownership over their work and make for a much smoother summer work experience overall.

Treat them fairly. Treat your children as you would any other employee — don’t go easier or harder on them. “Parents often want to make sure that none of the other employees feel that their child is being favored, so they might purposefully be tougher on the child in front of other employees,” Neuendorff said. And remember, fair treatment also means paying your children a fair wage. Always pay your children what you would pay any other employee doing the same job. This helps kids to feel like they are a real part of the team, instead of just pitching in and lending out a hand.

Don’t overwork them. Teens, especially ones that haven’t worked before, aren’t ready to jump into a standard eight-hour workday. Three- to four-hour shifts tend to be a good staring point. “Unless they have experience working for other employers, they’re going to become bored, tired, or stressed having to work more than that,” Neuendorff explained. It is also important to remember that kids are on summer vacation, so they shouldn’t have to spend all of their time working. And remember, treat your kids fairly. Make sure you schedule shifts in advance as you would for any other employee. This teaches children to effectively manage their time and ensures that they have ample time to pursue other interests and spend time with friends.

Don’t forget about training. Don’t just assume that your child can jump right into work at your franchise and meet all of your expectations. Proper training is crucial for any new hire, even if that new hire is your son or daughter. This ensures that your child knows what needs to be done and how to do it.




Article by Jason Duncan, CEO/Founder of ManagerComplete.com. ManagerComplete is an online software application that helps multi-unit franchises manage operations effectively. Follow him on Twitter for latest updates.

The 3 Most Bizarre Franchise Lawsuits

Don’t sweat the small stuff, right? Well, evidently not all of us are attuned to this age-old adage, especially those of us with a passion for alfalfa sprout. These three franchise customers don’t just sweat over the small stuff, they actually sue over it.  From too expensive sodas to too small booths, these three lawsuits prove that the details do matter, especially if you want to avoid the lawsuit.

  1. The Alfalfa Sprout Mêlée. When Heather Starks’ Jimmy John’s sub came without the alfalfa sprouts she had ordered, she didn’t take the issue to management — instead, she took it to the courtroom. Believe it or not, Starks initiated a class-action suit against the company. Starks alleged that because the sandwich had been advertised as including sprouts, the company was guilty of violating the state of California’s false advertising act and of perpetuating fraud. Jimmy John’s adamantly denied any kind of wrongdoing, but the sandwich franchise was quick to address the matter. It settled the suit out of court and offered electronic vouchers for soda and chips to those had been unjustly denied sprouts on a menu item that listed the topping as an ingredient. The company also pledged to stop falsely advertising sprouts and donated money to charity based on the number of customer complaints filed. Who knew that people were so fiercely passionate about alfalfa sprouts?
  2. The Battle of the Booth. Martin Kessman of Rockland County, New York, acknowledges that he is on the big side. Still, when he couldn’t fit into a White Castle booth, he was perturbed, very perturbed. According to the New York Post, the 290-pound man couldn’t fit into the booth because it was too narrow and also couldn’t move the booth, as it was bolted to the floor. Kessman penned off a couple of letters to White Castle management, but became even more outraged by what he alleges were “very condescending” responses (White Castle only offered him a couple of free burgers as an apology and maintained that he would have to pay extra if he wanted cheese on those burgers). So, Kessman did what any other outraged American would do — he hired a lawyer. A lawsuit was filed on Kessman’s behalf, alleging that White Caste booths were in direct violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The suit never saw the inside of the courtroom, however, as it was dropped when the offending location added free-standing chairs that allowed Kessman to eat comfortably.
  3. The Soda Suit. A New York penny-pincher famously sued fast-food franchise Burger King because while one franchise location three blocks from her home sold a large soda for 89 cents, a franchise location five blocks away offered the same product for close to 20 cents less. In all fairness, that is over a 20 percent difference, but doesn’t it seem a bit paradoxical that a woman who isn’t willing to walk two extra blocks for a soda was willing to funnel energy into a lawsuit? The result? Burger King didn’t even bother to show up in court and still managed to win the case. Evidently the plaintiff will just have to suck it up and walk those two extra blocks.

Article by Jason Duncan, CEO/Founder of ManagerComplete.com. ManagerComplete is an online software application that helps multi-unit franchises manage operations effectively. Follow him on Twitter for latest updates.