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Entrepreneur’s Startups, Harvard Business Review, RDE share ideas for family auto body shop businesses

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Business Practices | Education | Repair Operations
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The collision repair industry seems to contain many family businesses, a dynamic that brings its own rewards and challenges.

For shop owners thinking about passing the business down their lineage — or children thinking about joining Mom and Dad’s outfit — an Entrepreneur’s Startups magazine story posted Monday offers some useful suggestions for making it work and maintaining family harmony.

Though author Jason Daley focuses upon franchisees, many of the lessons seem as though they’d apply to independent repair shops as well.

Among highlights:

Millennials don’t mind working with their parents — unlike their parents’ unwillingness to work with the prior generation — according to Startups.

“In the recent past, people would have said, ‘No way; I’m not working for my dad,’” Marty Welch of Martin Franchise Consultants told Startups. “But now young adults say, ‘Dad is pretty cool. You know, going into business with my parents might be a good opportunity for me.’”

Define what everyone’s supposed to be doing. “Luckily, with my brother-in-law being a lawyer, he laid out word for word what everyone does,” Colter Lange of the Smiling Moose Deli told the magazine regarding his partnership with parents on the restaurant, and Welch and another franchising consultant agreed that was necessary.

Ensure there’s a work ethic. Franchises are less likely to accept a parent “buying a job” for a lazy child than they were in the past, Welch told the magazine, and Mooyah franchisee Randy Bergeson said he “would not have taken the chance if he did not trust them and believe in their work ethic,” Startups reported. (Read more here.)

Getting into business with your kids is one question. What to do at retirement is another. Owners wrestling with that one — or worse, those that haven’t considered it — might want to stop in at a SEMA course next week

At 9:30 a.m. Tuesday, Nov. 2, Sherwin-Williams’ Lee Rush will lead the “Family Business Succession: The Family Component” Repairer Driven Education session for the Society of Collision Repair Specialists. If you want your business to stay in the family but also stay in business, this might be a good course to try. (Register here.)

“It is estimated 70% of family businesses will not survive into the 2nd generation and 90% will not make it to the 3rd generation,” the course description states. (Ouch.) “These owners cannot be held completely responsible for these succession failures. Professional advisers to family owned and operated businesses … are in part responsible for these failures. Too much attention is being paid to the wealth management of succession and too little attention being paid to the people component – the Family Component.

“By providing the participant with the tools necessary to develop a sound ‘Succession Plan’, they will have the ability to effectively manage the family component that has proven to be the major stumbling block for family businesses in the succession process.”

Finally, for those wrestling with thorny family business problems — or trying to head them off before they develop — a great resource is simply the Harvard Business Review, which has not only a prestigious brand but a tremendous archive online packed with advice for all company sizes. Register for free and get eight articles a month.

For example, consider this 2012 piece by authors George Stalk Jr. (Boston Consulting Group, BanyanGlobal Family Business Advisors) and Henry Foley (Cambridge Advisors to Family Enterprise) on how to avoid three “traps” they’ve seen catch clients with family businesses.

More recently, Claudio Fernández-Aráoz of Egon Zehnder in February offered leadership advice from successful family businesses worldwide, and Josh Baron and Rob Lachenauer of BanyanGlobal Family Business Advisors offered five models of how to own a family business in September. (For example, do all heirs own it equally, even those that don’t work there?)

More information:

“These Millennials Are Running Franchises With Their Parents. Here’s What They’ve Learned.”

Entrepreneur’s Startups, October 2016

“Avoid the Traps That Can Destroy Family Businesses”

George Stalk, Jr. and Henry Foley in Harvard Business Review, January-February, 2012

“Leadership Lessons from Great Family Businesses”

Claudio Fernández-Aráoz of Egon Zehnder in HBR, February 2016

“The 5 Models of Family Business Ownership”

Josh Baron and Rob Lachenauer of BanyanGlobal Family Business Advisors in HBR, Sept. 20, 2016

Featured image: Family decals on the back of a Jeep in Cape Town, South Africa, on June 9, 2016. (RapidEye/iStock)

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