family business

“The Show Must Go On” – Family Business Succession Planning in a Crisis

There’s nothing like a crisis for creating a higher sense of urgency in succession planning

In January, a 7-year old girl was the miraculous lone survivor in a tragic plane crash that took the lives of both of her parents and her cousin. The parents were the owners of a second generation, 50-year old family business, Gutzler’s Furniture in Nashville, TN. 

The Chicago Tribune reported, “Employee Troy Dunbar said a steady stream of people “from all over” was stopping by to offer condolences. Dunbar said store employees are doing OK in the aftermath of the crash, saying “the show must go on.”

Read the whole story here.

If Tragedy Strikes – Are You Ready?

With the majority of family businesses not having succession plans in place, these stories are becoming more common.  If you don’t have a succession plan, you’re not alone.  Less than 30% of family businesses have prepared a formal succession plan.

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Too Important to Fire

We brought in our first non-family senior executive to help professionalize and grow the business.  The senior manager performed his job well and was eager to take on more responsibility. Eager to keep him satisfied, and retain him, we continued to give him increased responsibility across other functional areas.

In a few years, we realized that he wasn’t as competent in the newer areas, as he was in his core responsibility for which he had been hired.  It’s easy to fall into the thinking that someone who comes from a larger scale business is an expert in all areas. This proved wrong for us and we found the newer areas under his responsibility were hurting the business.  We stopped adding responsibility and discussed ways to move him back to his core strength expertise area. This caused him to threaten leaving with his management staff, unless he continued to receive increased responsibility and compensation.

We decided to terminate the employee.  But it was too late. This senior manager had assumed so much increased control and responsibility that they had become too important to fire. More…