Balancing business and family, how franchisee duo makes it work

Written by Jessy Howe

Windemuller Family

Multi-unit franchisees Joe and Kate Windemuller are veterans in the TWO MEN AND A TRUCK® system, having been with the company from nearly the beginning. Joe’s journey began when he accepted a part-time position as a mover in 1991, just three years after the first franchise had been awarded. With his continued dedication to the system and a series of career advancements, he and Kate excitedly took on the opportunity to become franchisees in North Carolina. The pair was a recipient of the Two Million Dollar Club Award at the 2016 TWO MEN AND A TRUCK® Annual Meeting and recently was honored during the company’s 30th anniversary celebration.

Can you briefly explain your history with TWO MEN AND A TRUCK®?

Joe: During college, in 1991, I started as a part-time mover for the Holland, Mich., franchise. In 1995, I moved to Columbia, S.C., to help a friend start the franchise there. I started as a driver, then moving up to general manager as the business grew. After 18 years in Columbia, Kate and I heard that the Winston-Salem, N.C., location was for sale and we were ready to take on the challenge of owning our own business. In 2012, we purchased the location and moved with our one-year-old daughter to North Carolina. We then added a second location in 2014 in Mooresville, N.C. We hope to open a third location in the future.

Windemullers with Truckie

What do you most enjoy about being a franchisee with TWO MEN AND A TRUCK®?  

Joe and Kate: We enjoy watching our franchises grow alongside other franchises in the system. It also gives us flexibility in life to enjoy our family and be financially sound.

What would you say is the best part of working with your significant other?  

Joe: We both have different skill sets which complement each other. Kate handles the bookkeeping, accounts payable, and marketing, while I handle operations, sales, and training.

Kate: It is great knowing you have someone you can truly trust to help make big key decisions in the business. The executives at TWO MEN AND A TRUCK®/International, Inc., and other franchisees have been great examples that working with your spouse is possible, and can also be extremely beneficial.

How do you find balance between your work life and personal life?

Kate: We try to keep work at work, although it’s hard to do so all the time. Joe works full-time and is very involved in all aspects of the business. I work part-time while the kids are in preschool. We make sure to set aside quality time to be with our children, while having enough time to get our work completed.

As successful business owners, what do you hope to teach your children?

Joe and Kate: From a business perspective, we hope to instill a strong work ethic and ability to work well with others. Also, the importance to set goals in life and follow through on tasks to achieve said goals. To never give up and never stop dreaming.

Windemuller Family

With Mother’s Day right around the corner, can you tell us about your local Movers for Moms® efforts?

Joe and Kate: As parents we are honored to help moms in need and can’t think of anyone more deserving. We hope that our efforts will help struggling mothers to get back on their feet again and help care for their children and future.

In Winston Salem, our collection of donations will be given to Family Services. To collect donations we have partnered with several local retirement homes, storage facilities, and our customers. In Mooresville our donations will be given to My Sisters Place in Troutman, N.C., and to Family Guidance in Hickory, N.C. To collect donations we have partnered with a local church and elementary school as drop off sites.

Kate, how do you juggle being a wife, mother, and business owner?

Kate: I’ll be honest, it’s hard to find the perfect balance and some days I juggle life better than other days! My kids, ages two and five, are without a doubt my top priority so I wish I could be with them 24/7, but I also want to be involved in the business. It’s exciting to be a part of the growth that Joe’s achieved with our teams in Winston and Mooresville. We work with some great folks so that helps with the time away from the kids. We are blessed to have a wonderful nanny and involved grandparents that take care of the kids while we are both working or traveling for work. When I am at home I try my best to put the phone and laptop away, while they are awake, and just focus on our family. But when the kids go to sleep, we often have to chat about work or hop online to complete some tasks.

Are there any special plans this Mother’s Day?  

Kate: Hopefully a low key day outside somewhere with Joe and our kids … and dinner out (so I don’t have to cook or clean!)

 

TWO MEN AND A TRUCK® is the first and largest franchised moving company. Let us move your career forward. Consider investing in us and becoming a franchisee today! Visit franchise.twomenandatruck.com to learn more.

Love the one you’re (in business) with

One of the biggest career decisions a person can make is to become a small business owner. In fact, it isn’t simply a career decision but a major life decision. With so much preparation, research, time, and money invested to make the giant leap, the risk is too great for many would-be entrepreneurs. Now, imagine making the commitment to dive into the world of business ownership…with your spouse.

Talk about a list of pros and cons! We caught up with some successful TWO MEN AND A TRUCK® franchisee couples to learn the secrets of business – and marital bliss.

Brooke & Les Wilson

Les Wilson

Les Wilson

Franchisees Brooke and Les Wilson have been running successful franchises and growing their business portfolio for 10 years. They now operate nine offices across Maryland, DC, North Carolina, and Georgia.

It’s no secret that managing both a marriage and a thriving business is naturally filled with both high and low points. The Wilsons agreed that finding the balance was a significant challenge. Brooke recollects, “The first year was hard. We had to define roles and recognize we couldn’t each independently be responsible for everything. We were creating more work for ourselves. Though we often would arrive at the same conclusion, we didn’t always work to the result in the same way or at the same cadence, and this caused conflict.”

Brooke Wilson

Brooke Wilson

In addition to defining roles and responsibilities, they had to learn to leave work at work and dedicate personal time outside of work. In marriages where a joint business venture does not exist, couples come home after a long work day and vent to their spouse; however, a business partnership impacts a personal connection to the venting and fuels more than often intended.

Rene & Dan Shunk

Another successful TWO MEN AND A TRUCK® married couple is Rene and Dan Shunk who are multi-unit franchisees. They have been successfully growing their Illinois TWO MEN AND A TRUCK® business for six years while raising two small children. Rene admits finding the balance was a challenge early on for the couple. “Of course we had the usual business challenges, but achieving balance is the biggest challenge by far. It is very easy to work 24/7 when you both work together in your own business. You have to find ways to shut off the work side and focus on the family, personal, and couple side of life.”

the_shunks_-_fd_site_image

The Shunk family

Building business together for both couples has also afforded unexpected rewards. They have learned to harness individual strengths and build business roles around those skills – and ultimately learning more about one another than imagined. Additionally, there is no boss from whom to request time off, so when it is time to enjoy some much-deserved vacation time, they plan to have the day-to-day operations of the business handled while appreciating time away.

Considering going into business with your beloved? Here are three questions couples should ask before going into business together:

1. What are your individual strengths and weaknesses, and how will that play into your work roles?

Set yourselves up for success by honestly putting your weaknesses on the table and build your individual business roles and responsibilities based on your core strengths. This isn’t easy or fun, but the exercise is worth the investment. The more outgoing partner is going to be bitter if stuck inside four walls crunching numbers all day.

2. How do you divide the work at home, and will those roles change?

It is easy to imagine how life will be once you are running a business together, but reality can be altogether different. There are still responsibilities at home; the trash needs taken out, groceries need bought, and kids need baths. It is helpful to have a plan, even in writing, dividing the work at home, as well as the office.

3. What are your expectations for how you will interact with each other and your employees?

Determining how both partners can earn respect from employees while maximizing influence is important to think about. Do you want to be called by your first name as opposed to informal, affectionate names used at home? Team members may find it hard to take the business owner seriously when always being called “sugar bear” by their spouse.

So, yes, building a successful business and marriage is possible with a lot of communication and hard work! Brooke shares one more piece of valuable advice for couples considering a joint business venture: “Leave work at the office. Don’t bring it home.” She adds in with a smile, “And, buy multiple franchises, so when you have had enough of each other, you can visit another office for a break.”

Learn more about the Wilsons here. And read the Shunk’s full story here.

For information on starting your own TWO MEN AND A TRUCK® franchise location and to access performance information which is available to prospective owners click here.

For the love of business: Making the most of marriage and franchise management

It’s February. The month when northerners begin to experience winter battle fatigue, when New Year’s resolutions have elapsed, and when candy company Necco produces 100,000 pounds of candy hearts daily in order to meet the holiday’s demand. That’s right, we are smack-dab in the middle of the month which invokes Saint Valentine and all things love. And while millions of Americans are selecting the perfect card for their sweethearts, and while children are carefully addressing commercially exploited card sets for their pint-sized friends, some married couples across the nation are considering a much more serious commitment – owning a business together.

DSC_5858 2The TWO MEN AND A TRUCK® franchise system boasts several successful businesses franchised by lovebirds. One very brave couple took on three of the most life-changing (and stressful) events in a matter of 10 months. A marriage, a cross-country move, and the launch of a business in less than a year would be challenging for anyone; too much to consider for many. But this passionate and practical couple truly made their experience look like a breeze.

Alicia Sorber Gallegos and Pedro Gallegos married September 2011. Within 10 months their lives were packed into a trailer, and with a solid business plan and a lot of love, the couple set off on the adventure of a lifetime: opening the first southern California TWO MEN AND A TRUCK® location.

IMG_1025 (4)Q: How did you and Pedro meet?

Alicia: We met in college when I was studying abroad in Ecuador. Pedro is from Ecuador and he had just returned from studying abroad at Michigan State, where I went to school. We never met at MSU but coincidentally ended up meeting at an MSU get-together in Ecuador.

Q: Pedro, can you highlight Alicia’s and your educational and professional backgrounds?

Pedro: Alicia has a Bachelor’s degree in Spanish, with a focus in business. Her professional experience has included marketing and communications. She worked in a variety of sales and marketing roles for TWO MEN AND A TRUCK®, and her last position was marketing manager for a group of franchisees with locations is Chicago, St. Louis, and Salt Lake City. I have a Bachelor’s degree in economics, a Master’s degree in finance, and my work background is primarily in corporate finance. Prior to opening the franchise I worked as a financial associate on the valuation team for a large public accounting firm.

Q: Alicia, at what point did you decide to open up a business together?

Alicia: Interestingly, owning a business was something we always wanted to do individually. I became more interested in opening a franchise after working in a start-up environment at the Chicago TWO MEN AND A TRUCK® location. Over time, Pedro and I developed professionally and realized our skillsets complemented each other very well. It made sense to be business partners, and it was a positive decision.

IMG_1005Q: Pedro, why did you select San Diego to open a TWO MEN AND A TRUCK® franchise?

Pedro: We researched the area, and the demographics fit what we were seeking. We were attracted by the fact that there are no other TWO MEN AND A TRUCK® franchises in the area, which has its disadvantages from a brand perspective, but it allows for expansion in our local market. And, let’s be honest. The weather in San Diego is amazing! It was important for us to find a place where we would want to put down roots; San Diego offers a great lifestyle.

Q: Alicia, now that you have been open for 1.5 years, share your biggest challenges?

Alicia: In general, the biggest challenge has probably been managing our expectations and staying patient as we build momentum. It’s hard to know what to expect when you are going into a new market, and there was less brand awareness than I anticipated.

Q: And, Pedro, what has most surprised you about running a business with your spouse?

Pedro: I’m surprised how well we work together. It’s actually been very easy; we’ve learned a lot from each other.

Day 5 in the car and still all smiles

Day 5 in the car and still all smiles

Q: What is your favorite part about running a business with your spouse, Alicia?

Alicia: We get to share the adventure of starting a business and all that comes with it. Less than a year after we married, we packed up all of our belongings in a trailer, drove across the country and started a new life in San Diego. There are stressful and demanding aspects of what we do, but we are genuinely having fun. Starting a business demands a lot of time and energy, so I’m grateful we’re in it together.

Q: How do you divvy up the workload, Pedro?

Pedro: Alicia and I are responsible for different areas of the business: I manage operations and finance, while Alicia oversees sales and marketing. We work hard to stay within our areas of responsibility as much as possible so we don’t step on each other’s toes. With that said, we cover for one another when necessary.

Q: Alicia, what is your advice to spouses opening up a business together?

Alicia: In order to make it work, I think it’s important you share a vision of what you want to accomplish. And you and your employees need to have a clear understanding of who is responsible for what. Opening a business might not be for every couple, but it’s been such an incredible experience for us. I couldn’t have picked a better business partner.

Q: Pedro, how will you celebrate Valentine’s Day?

Pedro: We’ll probably do something low-key, like a nice dinner at home and drinks at one of the restaurants by our place.

In their first full year of business, Alicia and Pedro’s San Diego franchise grossed $765,000, launched local Movers for Military and Movers for Moms® initiatives, and added 20 jobs to the local community. While love may not conquer all, it certainly can be an inspiring and motivating factor in owning a business together. With a strong foundation and managing expectations, love can build a franchise.

For more information on starting your own TWO MEN AND A TRUCK® franchise location and the performance information available to prospective owners, click here.