Along with my father Dan Reeves, I run two Minuteman Press franchises in Burnsville and Chanhassen, Minnesota. My dad has been in the printing industry for over 35 years, and he is my mentor as well as my business partner.
Over the past two years, I have spent a significant amount of time working with my father as well as getting out there in the community and growing our businesses. Here are my top 6 tips to running a family business:
1. Learn to separate your business relationship from your personal relationship. My dad and I have learned to leave anything relating to the business outside of our personal lives. It is important for us to have that separation and the last thing we want to do resort to talking shop all of the time. During business hours, we have our professional back and forth and do what we need to do as Dan and Mike. Outside the office, we are dad and son.
2. Give each other professional space and breathing room while at work. A family business is different from other businesses because of the close relationship you have with the people involved. Even during work hours, it is important to give each other a little bit of professional space. Organize the day so that you each get some breathing room, and take full advantage of those breaks so that you go back to work recharged, refreshed, and ready for the next tasks at hand.
3. Marketing is your friend. In our industry, we have the privilege of being in the business of design, printing, and marketing. Many family businesses do not understand the importance or the growth potential that can come from marketing. Whether you own a restaurant, barbershop or really any business, it is important to develop a marketing strategy that will work for you. Get out there and network with other professionals, take advantage of the vast amount of resources such as printing, direct mail, and Internet marketing, and be consistent with following up on initial points of contact.
4. With a family business, providing outstanding customer service is a must to stay in business. When you own a family business such as ours, you understand that you are the face of your brand. As much as it helps being part of a franchise with a well-established brand like Minuteman Press, it is what we do as Dan and Mike Reeves that can make all of the difference in the world for our customers. We take pride in making sure that our customers are treated respectfully and that their orders are fulfilled with the type of customer service they deserve. Without service, there is no customer.
5. Don’t be afraid to share your story. Sharing your story with your customers creates a more human connection with them. As a business or franchise owner, chances are you have a great story to tell about how you got into business. That journey is an authentic part of who you are, and it is always helpful to be genuine and for customers to get to know you as a person. You can even include a short bio or “history of” page as part of your marketing presentations, and that could go a long way in cultivating not just another lead, but a true fan of you and your business.
6. Think about what you’ve learned from each other and share those lessons learned. I am very lucky to have had my dad as a mentor. He has also learned lessons from me, such as new ways to approach customers or market the business. I think it is important for members of any family business to think about the lessons they have learned. These are valuable pieces of advice that can only make you better at your jobs. It also helps shape your collective vision moving forward.
For example, the three biggest lessons my dad has taught me over the years are:
1. Ask the right questions.
2. Do not just be a hunter. Be a gatherer.
3. When your passion shines through your work, people see and respect that.
I have taken all of my dad’s lessons to heart and try to carry them with me wherever I go. He has given so much of his life to the printing industry and providing for us, and his wisdom is always appreciated.
Ultimately, having the chance to run a family franchise business is truly a rewarding experience. The keys are to work hard, stick together, stay open, and separate the personal from the professional.
Mike Reeves was born and raised in Minnesota. He is the Director of Sales, Marketing & Social Media for the Minuteman Press franchises in Burnsville and Chanhassen, MN, which he operates with his father Dan Reeves. In 2016, Mike won Ambassador of the Year for the Burnsville Chamber of Commerce and was nominated for the Business Person of the Year for the Prior Lake Chamber of Commerce.