Combining family and business can be hard… here’s how to set your family members up for success.
Residential construction is one of the top industries that are predominantly family-owned businesses. Companies are often handed down through generations, run by husband-wife teams, or have multiple siblings on the payroll. It's very much something that you can get born into.
Involving family members in business can create a unique dynamic that fosters trust, collaboration, and a strong sense of belonging.
However, things can get hard when bringing family into your existing business…
Maybe you are passing the company down to your son or daughter, or employing your new brother-in-law… Sometimes mixing family and business can get awkward.
And the more family members you introduce to a business the more potential there is for conflict.
So, what can owners of residential building companies do to help with a family member’s transition into the company?
Familiarity Breeds Contempt
Familiarity is probably one of the biggest challenges that family members face. When you're part of a family, you have a close relationship and a level of familiarity that you might not have with other employees.
This familiarity can be both a good and bad thing…
On the positive side, it makes it a lot easier to have open discussions and understand where the other person is coming from. However, it can also lead to a perception of complacency, where we may not give our family members the respect they deserve.
We've all heard the expression that familiarity breeds contempt. It's essential to strike a balance between the comfort of familiarity and maintaining a level of respect and understanding within family dynamics.
Clear communication is the backbone of any successful business. Ensure you understand each other's communication styles and preferences to result in smoother interactions and fewer misunderstandings.
Set Them Up for Success
When bringing family into a business, you don't want to bring them into a burden. You want to bring them into something that is profitable, systemised, and runnable.
Ryan Stannard, a Certified Professional Builder, shared that the only way he felt comfortable bringing his daughter into the company was to reach level ten of the Professional Builder Levels.
“Getting to level ten is like having a triple-A credit rating in this industry. I wanted to get to level ten because my daughter plans to take over my role in this company.
The only way that I can feel comfortable that my 19-year-old daughter could step into this company and run it is if I'm at level ten.
Otherwise, I'd be constantly worried that she might go through the same challenges I faced over the years of running this business, which has been a lot of hard work.”
Getting your company's systems and processes in tip-top shape is the easiest way to ensure a smooth transition (especially in a succession scenario) and the Professional Builder Levels are a great way to track this.
Now, reaching level ten is an incredible achievement, and you certainly don't have to wait until you reach it to bring your family on board.
There are plenty of steps you can take now to ensure their success in the future… including providing them with the right tools to get the job done.
Build A Company Manual & Sales Manual
If you have every system and process written down in a manual, this provides any new employee with a solid understanding of how to do their job.
Ryan says it best…
“With the implementation of these manuals, everybody in the business has a clear path of what their role is and exactly how to do it. This way, if someone goes on holiday or is sick, someone else in the business can step in and do exactly what this person does.”
Having a manual to fall back on also helps the family member feel more confident in their position, and will help them earn the respect of other employees.
“The power of these manuals will be evident when my daughter takes over my role in the building company. By then, it will be a $15 to $20 million building company, and it will be managed by a 20-year-old…
Decisions that she'll be making in the company and the respect that she'll need to earn from the staff and clients will come from living by that manual.
If anyone is unhappy with anything she does, it's not her fault; it's the company's fault or my fault because I've approved the manual. Different staff members have contributed their portions, but I've approved that this is how we do things."
Family-run businesses have an advantage when they communicate well, share a vision, and have the proper resources.
However, it is important to handle difficulties in a professional and respectful manner to maintain positive relationships and the success of the business. When done correctly, family collaboration in construction can create a thriving business for generations to come.
Want to learn more about the systems and processes your building company needs to best work with family? Get the Professional Builders Secrets book for FREE below.