Currently in the United States, family owned businesses make up about 90% of American professional establishments and corporations. From Fortune 500 companies down to the two-person businesses, “family owned businesses are recognized as important and dynamic participants in the world economy,” and make up over half of the American Gross National Product.
Has Anserve’s Status as a Family-Owned Business Contributed to its Success?
Anserve was founded by husband-and-wife team Bob and Nancy Ward in 1969. At the start, Nancy Ward ran the day-to-day operations for the answering service, then known as Pompton Lakes Telephone Answering Service. Growing, from just 12 employees in 1969 to over 130 employees today, has not changed how the Wards treat their valued employees.
For over five decades as a family business, Anserve has conquered technological upgrades, overcome economic recessions, and even weathered a building fire all without sacrificing quality service for their clients. “Family ownership has contributed to the success and longevity of the company, allowing it to emerge from various answering services into one strong identity with a solid reputation in the industry,” notes Peter Toriello, Anserve’s Director of Business Development.
The key to the success of Anserve as a family-owned business is unified management goals, common ethical values and shared experiences in providing answering services for larger medical practices and businesses. A one-for-all and all-for-one credo is more likely to exist in family-owned, smaller businesses. Such an environment helps to bond management and employees together through mutual trust, and offers a reciprocity not found in other types of organizations. “We know what we will do for one another and this theme can be followed all the way through the client level as well,” says Anserve President Rob Ward.
How do Family-Owned Businesses Work?
A family-owned business by definition employs two or more family members with the majority of control or ownership within the family. A family business like Anserve typically has specific traditions and core business values that support its employees and their clients. They make strategic financial decisions that focus more on resilience than performance, forgoing excessive returns during economic booms so that they can support their employees and weather through times of recession.
What are the Pros and Cons of a Family-Owned Business?
One of the best things about a family-owned business is the unified mindset of the owners and employees that fosters collaboration and support for each other. With a smaller staff than other corporations, the workplace environment feels more relaxed and each employee is treated with respect as they train, gaining confidence learning a variety of skills from family members that have been in the same business for generations. Creating a new position for an employee is easier in a family business because there are fewer layers of red tape needed for approval.
While a family-owned business is a wonderful place to work, it can have its bumps in the road. It can be difficult for the family members to relinquish the decision making to others, which can cause some hierarchical turmoil. Also, family members working to the point of exhaustion for the good of the company can cause tempers to flare, creating conflict and perhaps an uncomfortable atmosphere. Even when there are no family disagreements, non-family members working at the company could have differing views than the like-minded family and employees could feel pressure to act a certain way.
What is the Biggest Challenge in Family Business?
Family businesses face and overcome challenges each day but none as big as finding their successor with the same ethical standards. As the baby boomer generation of business owners begin to retire, few have a transition plan in place. While most family-owned businesses want to pass the torch to the next generation, less than a third will be successful. Fortunately, Bob and Nancy Ward, who still remain active in company leadership, have already transitioned leadership of the company to their son, Rob Ward.
Women often Take Larger Roles in Family-Owned Businesses
Nearly a quarter of family businesses have a female CEO or president and almost one third will have a female successor. In fact, in the past five years, family businesses owned by women have grown by 37%. Even when women are not the owners, top management roles are filled by women in 60% of family-owned businesses. While Anserve does not have a female CEO, Nancy Ward’s leadership has been fundamental to the growth and continued success of Anserve. During the period when Nancy Ward managed the business, her intent was to set an example by being there every day and use common sense to support her co-workers. “Nancy is a key part of our focus in Quality Control and her experience sets us apart. Improving our client experience and improving our employee contribution will ensure a successful future,” says Rob Ward.
Anserve’s Family-Owned Business Model Continues to Grow and Evolve
Owners Bob and Nancy Ward are still actively involved in the company’s activities as their son and successor, Rob Ward takes the helm as President. With his experience, technological background, and dedication to the company, businesses can trust Anserve with their reliable answering services for many more years.
A family business generally has a reputation as being more trustworthy in the industry. The family agrees on a vision of the company, and puts the vision out there with their name on it. The family is held personally responsible by the public for the company’s success. “Having a presence among the office staff, in meetings and events, has also been beneficial in a family environment. We take interest in everything that goes on and everyone that works here,” says company co-founder, Bob Ward.
A family-owned business like Anserve values the quality of their services and connections with their clients. Businesses that treat their employees well experience continued success because they can retain their talent and provide more reliable services than their competitors. In addition, family businesses tend to foster innovation while continuing to provide the same trustworthy service. Contact us to learn more about our 50+ year old family-owned business!