This is an era of market consolidation, where small companies can increase their size and value with the goal of being acquired by a larger entity — and large companies can increase sales by branching out into more categories.
But for every trend, a countertrend exists. The specialized family-owned company may be a rarity in today’s world, but that only makes its positioning more attractive. It creates an opportunity to show customers that you can do things that your competitors can’t — or won’t.
People sometimes associate family-owned with small, but that’s not entirely accurate. Within the foodservice industry and beyond, we see examples of family-owned enterprises that are global category leaders offering comprehensive product lines. In our experience, family-owned can be bigger and better.
Personal attention should be the foundation of customer service. Companies big and small handle customer service inquiries every day. But at a specialized family-owned company, customers typically talk to the same small cast of characters who often remain totally immersed in one field. In best-in-class examples, their attention is not fragmented over a wide range of categories.
Successful family-owned businesses often know how to jump through hoops. Time and experience have built up their knowledge inventory about the category and the market. Additionally, these customer service representatives will generally have strong ties, built over many years, with established sources that provide stability for quality and delivery.
Good family-owned companies are managed for the long term and for building business relationships that will last. Management will take the company’s reputation and track record seriously, usually with an eye to the future. It’s not about delivering numbers to shareholders every quarter. A family-owned business has the luxury of setting its own goals and focusing on the long term.
Unlike large corporations, where decisions may involve layers and layers of management, a family-owned business will generally have a simple management structure. This makes it easy to do business with them because they can respond as quickly as necessary. They are independent by design, and that’s a real mark of differentiation in today’s marketplace.