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TOPIC: Family Business?

Family Business? 06 Aug 2007 13:33 #15763

  • cft
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Just a casual question to all you indie theatre owners. Do your wives/husbands/kids staff your theatres? If so, how is that working out for you? Also, how many of you are your own projectionist?

[This message has been edited by cft (edited August 06, 2007).]
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Re: Family Business? 06 Aug 2007 15:30 #15764

  • rodeojack
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We've raised our family at our theatre. My 4 daughters all grew up, working at various functions here. One acquired the passion for the business, and is trying to figure out how to 'retire' us early. Guess I should consider myself lucky that one of our kids looks at it that way.

We paid the kids like our other employees, which helped form their work ethic. My wife runs our boxoffice, and pays me... I think.

My daughter and I run the projectors. We designed, installed and service the booth ourselves.
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Re: Family Business? 06 Aug 2007 23:48 #15765

  • Ken Layton
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I've found that many drive-in theaters are family run operations.
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Re: Family Business? 07 Aug 2007 08:08 #15766

  • leeler
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my wife and I are the Elkader Cinema. We hire out only on our two days off (Tues & Wed) otherwise we are there. Things run very well and we can usually handle even the busiest nights ourselves.
"What a crazy business"
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Re: Family Business? 07 Aug 2007 08:29 #15767

  • dsschoenborn
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We are family run. Both out kids now work there. One willing because he is 16 and needs car money. The other only when she has to. We run the business and are there everyday but also have around 20 employees at our peak. In the summer we run 4 shows a day 7 days a week. During school we run 1 evening show Mun - Thurs, 2 evening shows on Friday, 2 mats and 2 eve on Sat and 2 mats and 1 eve on Sun.

Yes we own the building and all the problems. We do a lot of maitenance and upgrades ourselves. We have live events several times a year since our vaudeville stage is still around. We only have 3 screens but have around 800 seats total. We maintain our website, compters, do our own payroll and accounting etc....... So even with the employees our time is really busy.

[This message has been edited by dsschoenborn (edited August 07, 2007).]
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Re: Family Business? 07 Aug 2007 10:42 #15768

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<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial, helvetica">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by leeler:
my wife and I are the Elkader Cinema. We hire out only on our two days off (Tues & Wed) otherwise we are there. Things run very well and we can usually handle even the busiest nights ourselves.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Wow. You sound very busy. Do you own or lease your space?

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Re: Family Business? 07 Aug 2007 12:38 #15769

  • puzzlegut
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My partner's family helps out at our theater. His mom sells tickets and on occasion his dad will help pour drinks and sometimes his brother and niece will help pick up garbage afterwards. It's been working out very good thus far. Right now only the 2 of us are experienced in running the projection equipment.

[This message has been edited by puzzlegut (edited August 07, 2007).]
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Re: Family Business? 08 Aug 2007 08:54 #15770

  • SamCat
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My mother and father started the business and now I do the admin side of things.
My mother looks after the candy bars, my father the film programming. Both my father and me are projectionists as well but we both aren't practising projectionists any more. We have 23 screens now in four locations. SO my father looks after two locations and I look after one with one location running by itself although it is only three screens and not too busy.
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Re: Family Business? 08 Aug 2007 09:19 #15771

  • leeler
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<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial, helvetica">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by cft:
<B> Wow. You sound very busy. Do you own or lease your space?

</B><HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

yes, we own the building and live upstairs. we also have a side office that we turned into a video rental business and the side office on the other side opened up and we are considering our options there, too. I am always in this building....
"What a crazy business"
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Re: Family Business? 08 Aug 2007 15:06 #15772

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<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial, helvetica">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by SamCat:
<B>My mother and father started the business and now I do the admin side of things.
My mother looks after the candy bars, my father the film programming. Both my father and me are projectionists as well but we both aren't practising projectionists any more. We have 23 screens now in four locations. SO my father looks after two locations and I look after one with one location running by itself although it is only three screens and not too busy. </B><HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

How long did it take you to acquire all locations? Did your father own the first? Do you feel your workload with the other locations gets to be 'too much'? Or is it actually easier because you have more help?

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Re: Family Business? 09 Aug 2007 16:45 #15773

  • tratcliff
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We bought and re-opened our theatre in 1996.
My wife has worked it full time since then.
I still worked another job full time until 2004. Since then I am full time as well.

We work 5-6 days a week, matinees and evening shows.
We used to own a restaurant next door as well, but just sold it this spring to focus more on the theatre.

We have 4-5 employees besides ourselves.
Our kids are 9,7 and 3, but they like to help out. It's a kick for them right now - later I'm sure they will think it is a chore.

I do all the building and projection maintenance. My Dad and brother help out with maintenance jobs I can't handle alone.

We are not getting rich by any monetary standard, but we are hanging in there.
But we are getting rich in being able to do what we love with the whole family involved.
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Re: Family Business? 10 Aug 2007 17:08 #15774

  • Mike
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I only work in the theatre as project-concession-tiks as a back up. I work full time at other stuff. My wife works at it full time. No kids.

Having attended Show West and Show East one of the things I was first amazed at was how many independents and smaller chains are family owned and operated. It is not the least unusual to run into 3-4 generations at one time walking around together. This is a family friendly business. Even the stupidest kid can shovel corn if supervised.


Michael Hurley
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Michael Hurley
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Re: Family Business? 20 Aug 2007 04:30 #15775

  • SamCat
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Hi CFT

Having more locations is alot harder. Because if you only have one site you are always there. You only do the programming for one location, you can do the projection yourself and you don't need to rely as much on staff because you can bring in family.
More sites you have more programs, more movies, more staff, if projection doesn't turn up then you can't always get there yourself, you have to rely on staff do the rosters, phone system, organise maintenance etc. Sometimes two staff don't turn up one night and you can't get family in to replace because they are at other sites.
SO you rely on alot more on people.

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Re: Family Business? 20 Aug 2007 12:00 #15776

  • BurneyFalls
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My life was much simpler when I had just the one location. With two, my costs are much higher because of personnel. Fortunately, I have a good manager and the locations are only 17 miles apart. When necessary, I can get there in 20 minutes max to repair a problem--fortunately that doesn't happen very often. But, I am making more money--just have to work many more hours for it. I do all the make up and tear downs at both locations, stocking, and maintenance.
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Re: Family Business? 20 Aug 2007 14:50 #15777

  • rodeojack
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My experience matches that of Burney's. With one location, everything matches our view of reality, more or less. We've had more than one location 3 times... once, we had 3. You have to accept that things won't always run as they would if you were there. How much different is where you can have a real struggle.

One of our locations was run by my daughter. It was an incredible training opportunity for her, and she did a very good job. Still, I had to "plan my battles" in terms of the discussions we had over our differences. She got the job done, but not always the way I would have... not necessarily wrong, just different. In the end, it was probably as good an experience for me as it was for her.

However, you can have situations where things go one way when you're there, and another when you're not. It can be incredibly frustrating because you can not be all places at all times.
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