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Building Succession Plans in Roofing: Navigating Generational Change While Keeping Bonds Intact

John Kenney September RCS influencer 2023
September 14, 2023 at 10:00 p.m.

RCS Influencer John Kenney says that by creating succession plans, roofing contractors can ensure the generational transition is seamless.

In the roofing industry, many businesses are family owned, spanning multiple generations. As such, generational changeovers are not merely about business continuity but are also deeply personal. The challenge lies in ensuring a seamless transition while preserving familial bonds. This article delves into how roofing contractor companies strategize succession plans for generational change and maintain amicable relations through the process. 

Understanding the importance of succession planning 

Generational changeovers are inevitable. The longevity and success of a business rely significantly on the capability of the next generation to steer the ship. However, in family businesses, these transitions are accompanied by a whirlwind of emotions, legacy considerations and personal dynamics. Crafting a well-thought-out succession plan ensures that: 

  1. Business continues to thrive: The company can capitalize on the strengths of the upcoming generation while respecting the foundation laid by the predecessors. 
  2. Relationships stay intact: By addressing potential conflicts head-on and in a structured manner, familial relationships are less likely to fray. 

Strategies for building effective succession plans 

  1. Open dialogue: Encourage regular conversations about the future of the business. It's vital that all stakeholders, including those not actively involved in the company, have a voice. These discussions can be informal but should aim to understand everyone's aspirations, fears and viewpoints. 
  2. Training and mentorship: The next generation should not be thrown into the deep end. A structured mentorship program, where they work under the current leaders, learning the ropes and understanding the nuances of the business, will be beneficial. 
  3. Outside perspective: Consider hiring an external consultant or mediator specializing in succession planning. An unbiased third party can identify potential pitfalls, mediate disagreements and offer solutions that internal members might not have considered. 
  4. Clear definition of roles: Clearly outline roles and responsibilities for all family members involved in the business. This clarity can significantly reduce friction and misunderstanding. 
  5. Legal framework: Work with legal professionals to draft necessary documents, whether wills, trusts or buy-sell agreements. Having legal structures in place can prevent future disputes. 
  6. Emotional preparedness: Transitioning isn't just about business; it's deeply personal. Sessions with family therapists or counselors can help address any underlying emotional concerns, ensuring that relationships remain strong. 

Staying friends through the transition 

  1. Separate business from personal: Establish boundaries. Family gatherings shouldn't always revolve around business talk; personal disagreements shouldn't spill into business decisions. 
  2. Celebrate milestones together: Recognize and celebrate achievements, be it the successes of the older generation or the milestones achieved by the newer one. 
  3. Establish a mediation process: If disputes arise, have a system or a designated individual (sometimes an elder not actively involved in the business) to mediate and provide perspective. 
  4. Invest in team building: Organize regular retreats or workshops. Activities that foster trust and understanding can go a long way in maintaining bonds. 
  5. Communicate, communicate, communicate: Most disputes arise from misunderstandings. Open communication channels, where concerns can be voiced and addressed promptly, are critical. 

In conclusion, as in any family business, generational transitions in the roofing industry are fraught with challenges. But with careful planning, open dialogue and a focus on maintaining relationships, these changes can herald a new era of growth while preserving the familial bonds that form the company's backbone. 

John Kenney is the CEO of Cotney Consulting GroupSee his full bio here.



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