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Jason McLaughlan shares how family businesses can become institutions

Family businesses often have a difficult time competing in today’s economy. Costs are rising and revenues are growing slowly. The American family business may find that it needs to make many changes to compete in today’s crowded market.

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The special qualities of family businesses can help you achieve success. Becoming a valued part of the local community means that you will have a constant source of customers. Jason McLaughlan explains how your family business can take pride of place in your community, encouraging your success in the long term.

Dedication to Customer Service

Every business that wants to be a local institution needs to focus on customer service. Especially in a small town, your reputation will precede you. If people know that they can receive prompt service and be treated fairly, they will talk to their friends and encourage them to visit your business.

A lack of proper customer service will cause your business to fail before it gets off the ground. Customers in today’s highly competitive market are fickle and will patronize someone else if they feel their needs are not met.

Play to Your Strengths

It pays to sit down and make lists of your strengths and weaknesses. Play up your strengths and find ways to work on your weaknesses. For example, one of your strengths may be convenience. Your customers can quickly run into your store and pick up the items they need. One of your weaknesses may be your limited hours. Try to expand these hours to compete with other local businesses.

Live in Your Community

Many business owners run their businesses in one city but live in another. To fully understand your market, it is smart to move to your community. This will also give you the advantage of being able to have a say in local political matters. If you are interested in running for local office, you will find that your business has an increased reputation.

Community Involvement

As much as you can, make yourself a place in the fabric of the community. Help local nonprofits and schools by sponsoring special events. The name recognition and the positive association will go a long way toward enhancing your reputation as a valued member of the community.

For restaurant businesses, the owners can run special fundraising nights where a percentage of each tab goes directly to a deserving local nonprofit. This will bring you goodwill within the community and encourage the nonprofits’ members to visit your business at other times.

Sponsoring local children’s sports teams and Scout troops will increase your business’s reputation. Many local sports teams display the sponsor’s company name on the back of the children’s jerseys, providing low-cost advertisements.

Multi-Generational Family Businesses

Many family businesses have an advantage because they have been in the owners’ families for years, and in some cases for generations. Playing up your company’s history in promotional materials brings customers a positive sense of nostalgia. For example, keep historical photos of your business in your store. Longtime customers will enjoy this window into the past.

Start your next generation in your business at a young age. The energy and drive of young people will keep your business relevant. It is smart to give young family members internships or part-time jobs as soon as they are old enough to work. This will encourage them to consider the family business as a career when they are older.

Make sure that your succession plan is laid out in writing. This will help your business in the inevitable case that the leader retires or passes away. This will help to keep your family business strong for generations to come.

Keep Up the Good Work

When your family business has become a local institution, don’t give up on customer service and don’t let your company become stagnant. Customers will only put up with so much before they find another company to do business with. Make sure that your company stays updated with current trends and don’t rest on your laurels.

Making Your Business an Institution

Using these tips, you will be able to turn your family business into a local institution. This will ensure that you can support your family well into the future. Jason McLaughlan challenges all family businesses to keep their companies relevant for the present and looking toward the future.