Recap: How Multi-Generations in a Family Business Can Be a Competitive Edge

On on March 11th broadcast, hosts Pat Romboletti and Meredith Moore of Family Business Radio were pleased to welcome the family business owners at Rick Bailey & Company—founder and father Rick Bailey along with his oldest daughter Amanda Bailey Hohenbery.  Based in Woodstock, GA, their insurance agency specializes in individual and group health insurance.

The show opened with Rick and Amanda discussing their early days.  Rick began his insurance agency as a sole proprietor, never really foreseeing that even one of his three daughters would join him in the business—much less all three of them. Amanda admitted to some surprise herself. Upon graduating from college with a psychology degree, she was considering her options when her dad offered her an interim position at the insurance agency—“just until you decide what you want to do.” Daughters Delane and Jennifer also pursued different educational degrees before joining the company.

From the beginning, it was clear that the Bailey family values got translated into business values that then became the bedrock of their successful family-owned business. Rick said that, first and foremost, he always told the girls to “follow your dreams and do what you enjoy doing.”  It just happened to turn out that the daughters loved the business just like their dad!

A big part of the success for this family-business has been their recognition and leveraging of the strengths of multi-generations in a family-business. Each daughter—representing two different generations (Gen X and Y)—brings something unique to the table—Amanda is more marketing driven, Delane likes the finances and Jennifer, the Gen Y representative, is all about technology. Instead of downplaying these attributes, they have leveraged them. “The only way to fail is to not recognize the strength of each player,” said Amanda.  By combining their strengths, they have been able to provide exceptional customer service that is the hallmark of their company.  Their clients now know that the same great service and the values that they were attracted to in the first place while working with Rick all these years will continue on with his daughters—each in their own unique way.

The conversation took a fascinating turn when Rick and Amanda were asked about their various“aha” moments along the way. Rick delved into the process he undertook before deciding to make the three daughters partners in the business. Amanda shared the poignant journey in which she moved from “Dad, what would you like me to do today?” to the stage where she knew what she was doing to now being at the point where she is thinking of new things to do to ensure the long-term viability of the company.

As for integrating the next generation into the business, Rick advised other first-generation business owners to not try to force a round peg into a square hole—to let things happen naturally. If the children love what they’re doing, he said, then the business will work. Amanda chimed in from her perspective with advice for members of the second-generation: take the attitude of “what can I bring to the company?” and “how can I improve the business?” There are no handouts, she said—we have to work.

In addition to the full discussion and many more highlights of the successful dynamics within this highly functioning family-owned business, listen in on the Podcast—available as a download—to hear Rick share highlights from his soon-to-be-published newspaper article as he gives an insider’s take on the impact of the new health care bill .

Rick and Amanda also added to the Family Business Radio tip library with the following:

Tip 1 from Amanda:  Both generations must equally contribute to the business for a long period of time.  The first generation should not abandon the business for the golf course when the children join.  And the children need to show up fully when they join the business and always be looking for ways to contribute.

Tip 2 from Rick:  The relationship between the owner and the children must grow, change and mature.  It must mature to a relationship of equals. He shared one of is favorite quotes: “It is a great moment when the teacher becomes the student and the student becomes the teacher.”  Rick added that they have had many of those moments.

Tip 3 from Amanda:  Be sure to use the strengths of each generation.  Look at what each person can contribute to the business—each one has different “super power” and can use that unique ability to contribute to the business.

You can reach Rick, Amanda, Delane and Jennifer at Rick Bailey and Company Telephone 770-569-9333
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