As I write this, I’m sitting at my grandfather’s large oak desk that was passed down to my father decades ago when Granddad retired from Farmer Construction, the family business he founded in 1951. Sitting at this exact desk, Dad started Accent Inns 24 years ago and now it’s my turn.
Grandad would have hand-written business letters to his customers and partners at this desk. My father welcomed in the brave new world of personal computers, faxes and e-mail. I now sit here writing my blog contemplating what will unfold during my tenure?
It was exactly a year and a half ago when I took over the business from Dad, sat at this huge desk and pondered the legacy of those two very successful men that had gone before me. I confess, a slight fear crept into my chest… will I be able to continue the family tradition? Can I fill the large shoes of my father? Nine out of ten family businesses fail in the 3rd generation. Yikes! Will that be me?!
Keep in mind that this was July 2008, business had never been stronger! Two short months later Lehman brothers fell and the economy came tumbling after. This was my first year! My first bloody quarter as quarterback! Suddenly, there was no time to be fearful about filling shoes or family business statistics: there was only time for action.
For the first time in our history, we held company-wide strategic planning sessions. We started with the Head Office team, then went to all the GM’s, and finally communicated the plan to every single team member. With level heads, we collectively mapped out Accent Inns’ competitive advantage and our road to success. We focused on our strengths: our values, our commitment to our community, and our never wavering pledge to quality: “Quality where it Counts”. And it’s working.
You know, I couldn’t have asked for a better start to my tenure as President & CEO of Accent Inns. Strange, eh? But last years crappy economy dispelled any notion of complacency I had and allowed me to put my own brand of leadership in place. As my Grandmother always said, “Life is full of hills and valleys” and in the past 18 months we’ve certainly seen that business is too. Whether it’s a hill or a valley, opportunities abound making now an exciting time to do business.