Keeping It In the Family: A Second-Generation Franchisee’s Path to Ownership
Family has been an important part of Batteries Plus Bulbs from the beginning. Our franchise model has allowed many everyday individuals to build family businesses and take control of their future. But what happens to your business when you decide to retire? A growing number of second-generation owners are taking over what their parents have built, adding technical know-how to the foundational “old school” approach of the last generation. We spoke with Ryan Tollefson, a second-generation owner about his own path to franchise ownership, the unique advantages of joining an existing commercial franchise and how a parent/child partnership offers distinct benefits for both parties.
The Path to Ownership
Ryan Tollefson is the owner of six stores located throughout the Sacramento, California area. For him, the path to franchise ownership was a gradual one which began with him working on and off in his father Don’s store throughout his high school and college years. “When I first started, I just stocked the shelves and mopped the floors. Later I helped a lot more customers, and got fairly interested in the technician side of things.”
Despite this though, franchise ownership was not a part of Ryan’s original career plans. “I went to school for electrical engineering, but shortly into the program I realized it wasn’t a good fit for me. I ended up finishing with a degree in Psychology and started my own business.”
His business performed home automation for clients and though moderately successful, Ryan felt himself gravitating towards the franchise world. “My dad had always talked about expanding, and he was getting more serious about it. My other business was only doing ok, and I wasn’t having fun with it, so we sat down and brainstormed what we could do together.”
Learning From the Ground Up
One of the benefits of a family business is how it allows an individual to learn the business from the ground up. This provides prospective owners with a level of practical experience, while allowing them to try out the business and see if it’s a good fit for their career goals.
In Ryan’s case, his collaboration with his father started out small, but enabled him to contribute to the franchise while building up his management skills over time. “After college, when I decided to re-join my dad and help with expansion, I managed our second store and he ran our first. As we continued to grow, I worked with our store managers and took on much more of the back office/inventory/HR roles.”
He also highlighted how working with his father, eased his transition into the management role. “Especially early on, I think it gave me some credibility with vendors, corporate and other owners. They recognized my last name and seemed more willing to work with me because my dad had already built up a lot of those relationships. I didn’t have to start at square one.”
A Partnership of Possibilities
While joining his father’s franchise benefitted Ryan, his influence ended up contributing significantly to his father’s success as well. By working together, the two of them would eventually expand from operating a single store with seven employees to owning six separate locations with a total of thirty-eight employees. Ryan explained, “By joining in Batteries Plus, it meant that I could get in with less equity than would have been required if I did it on my own, and it meant that he (Don) could grow much faster than if he did it on his own. I think we both benefited a lot from the relationship, and are both very happy that we took this path.”
The advantages of their partnership stretched far beyond simple economics though, with the business benefiting greatly from the diverse set of strengths each of them brought to the table. “My dad was great at the front-end of the business, and modeled how to do that well,” Ryan said, “I was able to help bring additional structure to the back end as we expanded to multiple stores.”
Ryan’s father Don Tollefson added, “We complement each other in that Ryan is ‘new school’, having great computer skills and being able to build reports, while I am ‘old school’, very hands-on and a good salesman.”
As you can see, operating a Batteries Plus Bulbs franchise is more than just a job; it’s a chance to create something lasting that can be a part of your family for years to come.
If you’d like to learn more about becoming a Batteries Plus Bulbs franchise owner, please explore our research pages. Also, be sure to fill out the form below to receive your free franchise report and communicate your interest. We’ll follow up with you shortly to answer all of your questions.