The owner or manager who brings family members into a tire dealership or service shop must do so with great care and discretion.
Family members must carry their own weight and prove their worth first day, every day.
Too often, family members poison a once-healthy work atmosphere. They behave as if the business and the employees who built its reputation owe them something. As far as I'm concerned, relatives who cannot or will not prove themselves in the most fundamental ways have no place on the premises.
Oftentimes, family members who join a business think their relatives can confer or assign respect to them. Unfortunately, the only way to get respect is to earn it. Typically, the way to earn respect is to prove oneself a humble, capable and committed worker.
If you happen to have family on board with you, remember this: Never confuse workers' civility toward them with genuine respect. Look and listen more carefully because you may be witnessing a stiff, forced courtesy instead of respect.
Meanwhile, building a focused, cohesive team is a common trait of tire dealerships and service shops that are successful for the long term. Many competent bosses have emphasized to me that as the team goes, so goes the business. Lazy and/or indifferent family members have disrupted or destroyed more teams than you can imagine.
Over the years I've met countless technicians through my work as a reporter and a technical instructor. Consider the times, for instance, when I find three pals attending a class who all worked for the same dealership or service shop. Then draw your own conclusion from their descriptions of their former employer.
"That place used to run like a well-oiled machine. We'd all still be there if it weren't for the heavy-handed, know-nothing—fill in the blank: son, daughter, brother, etc.—the boss brought in. If you were family, Dan, you'd get away with anything at that place!"
Different people join a family business in different capacities ranging from experienced technician to gofer to service writer-in-training. Regardless of where this person starts, he or she shouldn't flaunt the fact that his/her last name happens to be on the building. They can earn acceptance and respect by thinking before acting.
He or she shouldn't do things that give regular employees opportunities to say, "You're taking advantage of your last name."
Relatives you bring on board should be humble and eager to learn. If they can't manage these two things, they're in for rude awakenings.
Humility includes the willingness to roll up sleeves and work shoulder-to-shoulder with everyone else. For instance, be the first to offer to help push a stalled car into a bay. Be the first one to take trash back to the dumpster. Be the first to broom off that bay floor when the shop's shorthanded. Be the first one to offer to clean the clogged floor drain.
Family members can earn respect by their example. For instance, be the first one in the door every morning, bring the doughnuts and brew the coffee. Be the last one to leave in the evening. Keep your work area the neatest and paperwork up to date.
Suppose a co-worker stayed until the last minute to solve a customer's vehicle problem. The family member should step forward—cover for that employee—so he or she can pick up a child or babysitter on time. Do whatever it takes. Sweep up and lock up for them.
Any relative you hire must show restraint. No one wants to hear the boss' kid mouthing off. Instead, the kid should say nothing unless and until he or she can offer a solution to some problem.
Eventually, these seemingly small steps establish a family member as a caring, committed participant in the future of the business. Co-workers may not like this person personally, but they'll certainly respect the work ethic and commitment. Mutual respect, in turn, fuels the teamwork that builds a successful business.