June is always one of my favorite months. The heat of summer has not quite kicked in and the celebration of fathers dominates the news. This subject is dear to me because my father paved the way for our family business success more than 20 years ago, but we are hardly the outliers anymore. According to the Family Owned Business Institute, there are 5.5 million family businesses in the U.S. and family owned businesses contribute 57% of the GDP and employ 63% of the workforce (Family Enterprise USA, 2011). As franchise consultants, we’ve seen a notable increase in the number of multi-generational clients seeking opportunities to open family businesses.
After spending most of his career in the corporate world as an HR Director for international manufacturing companies, Jay Kelly came to our offices in 2000 with two goals, to spend more time with his family and to be the master of his destiny. After Jay and his wife Janet, a veteran high school teacher, began to explore options with our team, they both realized they wanted to be rewarded for their hard work. Jay is a self-described “high-achiever” and his desire was to be “without the limits and constraints” of the corporate world. The Kelly’s youngest son’s wife-to-be, Kari and their oldest son Michael joined the company after six months. Michael, now co-owner, believes the family business works because…
"We each bring to the table a set of skills that compliment each other."
Almost 15 years later, Jay and his family remain at the top of their game with tremendous growth and success each year in their Signs by Tomorrow franchise. The Kelly family is an American multi-generational franchise success story. I interviewed Jay to find out more.
Leslie: Why Did You Choose a Franchise Business?
Jay: Franchise businesses give you a leg up with proven systems like marketing plans, web design, technical support and accounting systems. Everything needed to start, run and grow your business is built in, which gives owners a shorter runway to profitability.
Leslie: What Business Did You Choose and Why?
Jay: After completing the FranNet Personal Franchise Assessment and several discovery meetings with Leslie and her team in 2000, we were presented with several options that fit our specific goals and our lifestyle. After a period of due diligence and interviews with other franchisees, we chose a Signs By Tomorrow franchise.
Leslie: Who is Involved with Running Your Business?
Jay: Michael, my son is co-owner and is the heart and soul of our family business. My wife Janet keeps everyone organized and on task and cares for Kari’s children while Kari develops tier 1 customer graphic designs and marketing plans. I spend most of my time chatting with the Chamber. But hey, it must work since we were the Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce Small Business of the Year.
Leslie: What Has Been the Key to Your Success?
Jay: We each know what we are good at and we do it quite well. Our approach is “you imagine it and we can do it”.
Leslie: What is the One Piece of Advice You Would Give to Potential Family Franchise Owners?
Jay: Never forget who brought you to the dance--your family, community supporters and your long-time customers. All of us had an integral piece in the decision-making and the business startup. Any family who is considering a franchise business needs to keep open minds and open lines of communication.
At this point in his life, Jay says he has “never been happier” or closer to his family, the one thing he has always wanted. Happy Father's Day Jay!
WHAT'S THE KELLY FAMILY UP TO NOW??? Jay and his family were featured in October 2016 on the front page of the Gainesville Times celebrating their official 15 year anniversary and incredible family business success story. Congratulations to the Kelly family and the whole team
at Signs By Tomorrow!
Contact your local, trusted, franchise experts at FranNet of Atlanta to uncover the possibilities for your family business.
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