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Have a Plan in Place Before Working With Family

trent cotney march influencer
March 25, 2022 at 9:00 a.m.

RCS Influencer Trent Cotney says that having a complete succession plan makes working with family easier. 

My advice would be to make sure you have a succession plan in place. Often, generational businesses fail to have sufficient corporate documents and maintenance to discuss the transition. I would take the time now to figure out how the current owners divest themselves of their interests to allow the new family members to take the business over. This process would include things like phasing current ownership out, benefits and buy out amount, among other things. It is also important to obtain a valuation of your company, so you have an idea of its worth for purposes of determining share value. 

One of the most overlooked things in any succession plan is the dispute resolution process. What happens when things go wrong and how do you effectively resolve problems before the lawyers get involved? Often, disputes can be solved by having a third-party, independent person evaluate each party's position and make a determination, or otherwise attempt to resolve the problem. This can be done formally through mediation or arbitration or could be less formal through the parties selecting someone they both trust to listen to, offer advice and a possible solution. 

Many roofing companies are generational and while working with family can be great, it can also insert emotional issues that would otherwise not be present in a non-generational company. Thinking about those issues and navigating them before they happen is paramount. Take the time to gameplay scenarios and make sure the succession documents take those issues into account. 

A final piece of advice — don't wait until it's too late. Take the time now to map out the transition when your hand is not forced into deciding that you would otherwise not make. Remember, as Ben Franklin said, "You may delay, but time will not." 

Trent Cotney is the founder of Cotney Construction Law, a law firm that specializes in roofing and construction law. See his full bio here. 



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