Taking a successful approach to generational leadership

Family-owned businesses have allowed states like Ohio to flourish. But with the rapidly changing economy, businesses need to be flexible, innovate faster and become more professional in how they conduct operations. By working together to address technological advancements, changes in offerings and commitment to employees and customers, a family business can continue to thrive post-COVID.
Ensuring your business evolves to meet customer demands in a digital world while adhering to family values is a challenge, but best practices can help ensure your business remains fruitful for generations to come.
Adopt new technology. While this may feel off brand for businesses with values based in customer service and relationships, technology improvements can support these traits. For customers and employees, every step your business takes needs to be done with their time in mind. Some might think that the “instant Amazon mentality” doesn’t apply, but customers’ expectations of service, speed and convenience are accelerating, and you’ll want to match that pace. On the flipside, employees need to be managed and supported with care. Embracing new technologies that benefit team members and customers keeps a business from stagnating.
In a family business that prioritizes customer and employee relationships, upgrading HR software to provide greater access to benefits and pay details infuses technology while balancing the relationship with the internal team. Modernized HR practices ensure your team is taken care of mentally and physically, providing a workplace experience that allows them to thrive on the job and at home.
Ensure service offerings are adaptable. Keeping up with the digital boom is imperative to evolving. Companies need to take risks and collaborate on new solutions for continued success. Learn lessons from previous generations. Ask how you can provide more for your consumers. What trends can you capitalize on to improve consumer satisfaction?
During the pandemic, many businesses pivoted,, such as HVAC manufacturers becoming mask developers. Those that are as smart and agile as their customers will continue to evolve and improve.
Invest in employee growth. Investing in your people goes a long way in ensuring your family’s values remain consistent and customers receive an optimal experience. Employees are looking for opportunities to build careers that allow them to thrive and support their families.
To find candidates that reflect your culture, invest in technical training capabilities. Some companies have on-site training facilities that provide hands-on experience and the confidence to excel, with consistent on-the-job training to continue professional growth. This allows you to hire for personality, rather than for skill or experience.
You can train for a position and cultivate skills, but you can’t teach someone how to propel the family business values if they aren’t willing to embrace the culture. This approach to hiring is better for customers because they deserve an individual who is friendly and respectful, and it’s better for new hires. If they come with the right mindset and a willingness to learn, they have the opportunity to build a great career.

From lack of succession to interfamily relationship strains, running a generational business is a challenge. Companies that protect their culture, support their workforce and lead with the customers’ needs top of mind are more than equipped to navigate these pressures and support their family-owned businesses’ success.

Mark Swepston is the owner and CEO of Atlas Butler Heating, Cooling & Plumbing