Targeting Family Members For Office Staff Hires

Family is an easy resource to tap when you’re a growing plumbing business trying to fill out its back-office needs, but if you decide to take that route, you need to approach it with care

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When hiring back-office staff for a plumbing business, it’s tempting to go with what’s familiar. What’s more familiar than a spouse or sibling? It seems like the perfect arrangement, right?

Not so fast, says Dave Kaster, principal at Fidelis LLC, a certified business advisory service in Green Bay, Wisconsin. For some companies, keeping it in the family can be a smart choice, as long as each family member is bringing something of value to the table and the details of a business relationship have been thoroughly discussed.

“You need to discuss every scenario you can imagine and how the decision-making process will play out,” Kaster says. “Hiring a family member and changing the nature of that relationship causes all kinds of different questions and stress. It makes it hard to run a business and make business decisions.”

Jeff Logan, owner of Scenic City Plumbing in Hixson, Tennessee, has hired a number of family members to work at his business. Overall, the results have been positive.

Jacqui Logan, Jeff’s wife and co-owner of Scenic City Plumbing, has been the company bookkeeper for the past 30 years. Initially she worked part time from home and later transitioned into full-time office work. She handles a wide range of clerical and accounting tasks.

When the company’s office manager retired several years ago, Scenic City Plumbing hired Jeff’s sister, a former dental hygienist. Later, they hired a niece as a part-time receptionist. Nephews of the Logans also work for the company. Jeff says the next hire for the office will probably not be a family member, but rather someone specifically with accounting and business management skills.

He has this advice for employing family members:

  • Be firm. Don’t let family members take advantage of you.
  • Treat all employees the same. Don’t show favoritism.
  • Separate your work life and home life. Don’t bring the day’s work problems home.
  • Be flexible. Don’t take a harsh approach when reprimanding family members.

“There are pros and cons to running a family business,” Jeff says. “It’s important to remember that everyone on the staff is trying to achieve the same goal: Get the work done and satisfy the customer.”

Read more tips related to the office side of a plumbing business in the “Getting Down to Business” feature in the February 2019 issue of Plumber.


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