Multi-Generational Franchise Owners Shine in Signs

Multi-Generational Franchise Owners Shine in Signs

As Zeke Dorsey’s successful career in human resources began to wind down, he made the conscious decision not to focus on closing the book, but on creating the next chapter.

He admits he wasn’t looking forward to retirement because he did not want to spend his best years sitting at home. Dorsey had much more to give, a son with a talent for sales and a family legacy to leave.

Success in a multigenerational partnership starts with first getting clear about what each of you wants in a business and voicing that criteria openly with each other. A family business can be complicated, so Zeke reached out to me for guidance. I speak from experience when it comes to the joys and challenges of multigenerational family business ownership. February 2018 marks the 19th year anniversary of the FranNet business I started with my daughter Leslie. Read about our story.

Together, the Dorsey family and I worked to pinpoint their top priorities – they wanted a B2B model with flexible hours for Kris to be there for his four active daughters.

Did they find their perfect business? Absolutely! Two years into their commercial sign manufacturing business and franchise life is good for the Dorsey family. PrimeTime Signs & Graphics designs, creates, delivers and installs just about any signage you might imagine. For more about their business, please visit

Why does this family business work?  Zeke says the first thing you have to do is establish roles and responsibilities in the business. Those can look very different from the traditional roles you each fill at home. Zeke’s wife Valeria Dorsey is responsible for handling financial matters and administrative functions. Kris is responsible for sales and operations.

While their roles are clearly defined, Zeke is quick to point out that the reality is, “in a small business you do it all.”

It may seem obvious, but it sure does help if you get along well as a family BEFORE you go into business together. Zeke believes, “the two go hand-in-hand, so if you’re not working well together outside the business, it won’t work in the business.”

He also suggests (and I agree), “when you go into business with your child, you have to clarify who the final decision maker is up front.”
“Make sure you’ve got these three things down before you consider going into your own business,” Zeke recommends.

  1. Secure enough working capital. Zeke suggests you, “go into it thinking you’re going to fund this business for the first 2 years.” 

  2. Have or find sales skills. Zeke confesses, “I would not have done this business if Kris did not have that sales skillset.” Once you decide what business you’re going into, make sure you join those networking groups, Chamber of Commerce and local business groups too! 

  3. Don’t be afraid of competition. Franchising works is areas where there is already a known demand for the product or service. The franchisor brings the structure and on-the-job training, which is important if you’re going into a business where you may have no prior background.

Working alongside his wife and son has brought much pride and joy to Zeke Dorsey and that comes through when he offers advice on business success. “You are the sign for your business”, says Zeke, “make sure you shine!”.

If you’d like to learn more about starting your own business with a family member, call me today at 770-973-0221 or email

For over 30 years, Phil has enjoyed helping people realize their dreams of business ownership. His personal experience as a franchisor, franchisee and area developer is instrumental in the expert guidance he provides his clients.

Master franchise development is Phil’s specialty and he’s widely recognized for his ability to spot emerging franchise brands. Connect with Phil at and 770-973-0221.


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