How an Indiana Cleaning Franchise Successfully Integrates Family Employees
Contributed by Office Pride Commercial Cleaning Services
The Browns put the “family” in “family business.”
Tom and Julie Brown own three Office Pride Commercial Cleaning Services franchises in Carmel, Lafayette and Terre Haute, Indiana. They have three sons, all of whom are involved in the business. Two of them hope to take over the family business someday.
How is it to work with family members?
“We do a lot of laughing, but we don’t fight. We fight for each other, not with each other,” Tom says. “We are a team. Julie and I see this as an opportunity to help leaders grow. Our job is to help our sons prepare for their goal, which is to take over the business. They are so willing to learn. They’re like sponges.”
Meet the Browns
Tom Brown has more than 20 years’ experience as a business leader, primarily in the construction field. Although he was successful and served as his company’s president, he jokes that he must be “unemployable” because he is so much happier working for himself. He and Julie, a former preschool teacher, started their Office Pride business together so that they could make more time for their family.
Tom says each of their sons plays a very different role in the business:
• Trey, 22, is a hands-on type who has worked in every job in the Office Pride business. He is currently serving as the director of operations for all three locations. He and his brother Colton want to run the business someday.
• Colton, 19, is a detail guy who loves a good spreadsheet. He works behind the scenes in human resources and accounting.
• Peyton, 21, is a people person. If he stays with Office Pride, it would be in sales, but he also works at the family’s restaurant and feels like he is being called to enter the ministry.
“It’s great that God wired them all differently, and they all bring different gifts,” says Julie. “Colton has that accounting brain and can sit for hours focused on that kind of thing. Trey is direct and can find the option and go for it. And Peyton brings people together, which is why we see him in sales.”
Colton says he finds working with his parents and brothers easy. “We jell well together. It’s fun and flexible, and even if it’s work, it doesn’t feel like work.”
Peyton agrees. “I think what we have here is special, because when families work together, they often butt heads and fight for control. Our family has a good understanding of our respective gifts, and we stay in our lanes.”
The Next Generation
The Browns’ sons have vivid memories of family life before their parents opened an Office Pride business. They remember their dad being at big school events like sports and talent shows – but they also remember him being pretty unhappy.
“I never missed anything, but I had quite a bit of pressure in my career,” says Tom. “My sons have seen the flexibility that owning your own business gives. They want to be good dads and husbands, and I think they see that this path allows you a lot more flexibility to spend time with family.”
Peyton sees a huge difference in his dad. “When he was working a lot, he was under toxic leadership. When he got out, he was able to lean on God and godly people. I want that. I want to be around people who want the same things I do.”
Trey, who is already planning to buy another franchise with his wife in 10 to 15 years, adds that is what he wants for himself and his family, too. “Being my own boss is definitely where I’m headed,” he says. “I want my kids to know my face and not just remember me at the big things.”
Many franchise owners find succession planning to be a chore. For the Browns, however, it’s been a delight.
“If our kids weren’t willing to be involved, we would just keep the offices we have now and let them grow organically,” Tom says. “But since they are willing to be involved, it’s provided us a spark to grow more. We may even add more locations. It’s a huge win for us.”