This time the family business is bedding
By Gordon Hecht, YSN Contributor
You may have seen the hit HBO drama about a powerful media dynasty. I don’t imagine there will ever be a retail sequel to the show, but if one is greenlighted, the opening scene may look like this:
INT. SUBURBAN HOME – KITCHEN – NIGHT
A FAMILY OF FOUR is sitting at the kitchen table. Mom and Dad work together at the family-owned Mattress Universe store, along with their teenage son and daughter, who help out occasionally. The parents are discussing the day’s events over dinner.
(to his kids)
What a miserable day today! First, the shipment came late, then the newspaper printed our ad wrong — the dummies forgot the “1” in the price and ran “Mattress and Adjustable Base for $999” instead of $1,999!
And the customers! We only had five people in all day, and they wanted everything for free! We’re a store, not “Let’s Make a Deal!”
And in the middle of everything the factory rep comes in and wants me to order more inventory! I’m still waiting for my Black Friday shipment!
Oh, and the complaint calls I got today! “My delivery is 10 minutes late,” “I can’t sleep in my bed,” “My Neapolitan Mastiff is allergic to memory foam…” I just can’t take it!
(to their parents)
Mom and Dad, we don’t want to work in the store anymore. We want to join the Peace Corps!
MOM AND DAD
What are you, crazy?! The mattress business is great! You’ll love running our store when you get older. It’s fun and rewarding!
End of Act One
I’m probably better off writing these articles and leaving the TV scripts to the professionals. But the point is, if you want the next generation to continue working and eventually run your family bedding or appliance business, you must make it attractive. Here’s how:
Share the Passion: It’s true: retail is detail and involves a lot of tedious and stressful duties. But you got into this business for a reason, and most likely the reason is you love to help people —customers and employees — and you want to do it your way. Let your next generation know the rewards of being your own boss, mentoring the people you work with, building something from scratch, and helping your neighbors live better lives with better products.
Honest Money for Honest Work: Your kids should never work for free, whether they’re high schoolers helping out or young adults living at home. Think about what it would cost to hire someone on the open market and pay your family the same (plus a little more). And if your pre-teen helps by sweeping up and taking out the trash, slip him a sawbuck too!
Let Them Decide: This is hard to do. When your offspring reaches adulthood and you promote them to No. 2 in charge, let them be in charge. Ask them to make thoughtful decisions and then live by them. No one wants to be second-guessed, especially in front of other employees or family members. Trust that you’ve taught them well. If their decision is different than yours, it may be a better choice. They will make mistakes, but you’ve made a few mistakes too.
You (and your better half) have spent years building your own hunk of retail heaven. You’ve worked holidays, weekends, evenings, and more just to build security for your family. Planning to pass it on starts now. You can begin by “selling” the passion and benefits to your own little Gen Next or end up selling it to strangers. Always choose family!
Gordon Hecht is a business growth and development consultant to the retail home furnishings industry and a regular contributor to YSN. You can reach him at Gordon.Hecht@aol.com.