How to Manage a Successful Family Business

How to Manage a Successful Family Business

The Home Instead Senior Care Network and Small Business Administration Share Tips

An estimated 90 percent of U.S. businesses are family-owned or controlled, from traditional small businesses to a third of Fortune 500 firms, according to the U.S. Small Business Administration. Unfortunately, recent economic turmoil has hit businesses hard. About 4.3 million businesses with 19 or fewer employees closed during the fourth quarter of 2007 through the fourth quarter of 2008, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. There is hope on the horizon through home-care franchising, which presents a great opportunity for families to build businesses that can continue through the generations. The Home Instead Senior Care network and U.S. Small Business Administration share tips on how to help manage a successful family business, making the most of the skills and talents of family members.

Omaha, NE (PRWEB) – Two families – one in North Carolina and the other in Florida – have discovered that home care franchising can lead to thriving businesses that hold promise for future generations even in difficult economic times.

Sue and Bill Bidwell were educators when they learned about the Home Instead Senior Care franchise network and decided that a business helping seniors remain at home and independent was a perfect match for them. The Bidwells purchased their first territory in Fort Myers, Fla., eight years ago and have since assumed ownership of Naples and Port Charlotte offices. Their staff provides older adults with non-medical services such as meal preparation, light housekeeping, medication reminders, errands and shopping.

Since starting the business, the Bidwells’ daughter and son-in-law, Abigail and Bill Dattilo, have worked, respectively, in public relations and client services for the Fort Myers franchise. Son, Joe, an aerospace engineer who was at first skeptical about the business model, also is working in the business as a general manager. “He attended the annual Home Instead Senior Care convention last spring and said, ‘This is a top flight organization,’” Sue Bidwell recalled.

Bidwell said it is fulfilling to think about the business – along with the non-profit Grace Works Unlimited they founded to help fund community projects – being passed on to their children. “It’s part of the legacy that I will leave to my kids and the community of being a help to those who need it.”

Elsewhere, Jena Hare has taken over the franchise that her now-retired father, Sid Jay, began in Concord, N.C., in 2003, as well as another that she helped launch in 2005 in Salisbury, N.C. Hare, who has a background working with children in behavioral analysis and therapy, moved her family from Edenton five hours away and worked for two months in the Concord office in 2005 before deciding to open an office in Salisbury. “We were blown away to soon be doing the same amount of sales as Concord,” she said.

Meanwhile, in 2008, Sid and another daughter with a background in business – Shanna Jay – opened a third office in Lexington, N.C. The sisters agreed that their father’s vision was contagious. “Just seeing him and his passion drew me in,” Shanna Jay said.
Hare noted that franchising in itself offers a built-in support system. “Working with family provides an additional smaller support system of individuals who not only understand the industry, but area struggles and opportunities. We’ve worked very well together.”

In spite of the fact that many small businesses closed in the recession, one in 10 job seekers who gained employment in the second quarter of 2009 – 8.7% – did so by launching their own businesses by scratch or through a franchise, according to outplacement firm Challenger Gray & Christmas' quarterly Job Market Index.

Tim Connelly, director of Franchise Development for Home Instead, Inc., franchisor of the Home Instead Senior Care network, said that many find home care franchising an extension of their own families, which helps build a successful business model to continue, even when the economy is down. “People need care. It’s not a luxury, but a need that will continue regardless of what happens to the economy. The network still has open territories as well as those for resale throughout the network to help keep seniors safe and independent at home,” Connelly said.

“Everything about this business is personal to us from the care of seniors to customized solutions for families,” Hare said. “This business revolves around personal relationships. You have to feel good about continuing something that personal to you. It’s a warm, feel-good business.”

Tips For Managing A Successful Family Business
If you’re working with a family member or considering it, following are tips from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA)’s website ( and the Home Instead Senior Care network.

In Business, Business Comes First -- In the workplace, decisions must be objective, not personal; the boss/employee relationship must be accepted by all family members; every job description must be clear and understood; and work life and home life problems should not overlap.
Consider Hiring a Non-Family Member to Oversee Operations -- If other family members report to you, be clear about their lines of authority or consider hiring a non-family member to assume a position of authority so that you are free to work on strategy, future plans and growth, while that person guides day-to-day operations.

Deal with Family Discord – Families will always bicker, but the challenge is not to let the bickering interfere with the business and rub off on non-family employees who might be tempted to use the same emotional appeal to gain position or get their own way – because they’ve seen your family succeed at it.

Make Communication a Priority – Lack of communication can lead to trouble faster than anything. Be sure to keep all members of your staff – both family and non-family – in the loop on projects that impact them and their jobs. Protect relationships at all costs.
Be Patient – Business can be stressful and it can be easier to take a bad day out on a family member. Take a break and get away if you feel that your patience is running thin.

Consider Separate Functions – Family members can get into a difficult tug of war trying to do the same job. Separate job functions as much as possible, giving family members as well as non-family staff freedom to develop their own skills and make individual contributions to your organization.

Deal with the Family “Hanger-On” -- You know the one – the relative who needs a job badly, but really doesn’t exhibit any true aptitude or useable talent. If you really must hire that person, accept the fact that you will need to cultivate them into a role to avoid them causing problems down the line.

Prepare the Next Generation -- Many family businesses remain so for years if not decades, but how do you ensure that the next generation continues to grow your business and serve your loyal customers when you come to retire or move on? The best time to plan for succession is well in advance.

For more insight into the challenges of managing a family business, as well as further tips on family-financed businesses and dividing profits, read the management and planning guide from the Small Business Administration ( titled “Challenges in Managing a Family Business”

About Home Instead Senior Care
Founded in 1994 in Omaha by Lori and Paul Hogan, the Home Instead Senior Care network is the world's largest provider of non-medical in-home care services for seniors, with more than 900 independently owned and operated franchises providing in excess of 45 million hours of care throughout the United States, Canada, Japan, Portugal, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, the United Kingdom, Taiwan, Switzerland, Germany, South Korea, Finland, Austria, Italy and Puerto Rico. Local Home Instead Senior Care offices employ more than 65,000 CAREGiversSM worldwide who provide basic support services – assistance with activities of daily living (ADLs), personal care, medication reminders, meal preparation, light housekeeping, errands, incidental transportation and shopping – which enable seniors to live safely and comfortably in their own homes for as long as possible. At Home Instead Senior Care, it’s relationship before task, while continuing to provide superior quality service that enhances the lives of seniors everywhere.

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