By Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD
I’m not sure how the telephone answering service industry compares with other industries, but there seem to be many second and third generations running the answering services their families started. (If you’re a fourth or fifth-generation owner, please let me know.)
While the process of handing over ownership and control to the next generation used to be straightforward, the path is less clear today. Not only are TASs more complex to run from a technical, legal and business standpoint, they’re also bigger.
Learning the answering service business from the ground up is a perennial prerequisite in preparing the next generation. Having a college degree was once an optional bonus, but it is more critical now, as running an answering service has become more complicated with additional layers to comprehend. Another common stipulation is to first work outside the industry before joining the family business. This gives the future leader a better understanding of business and added a background to provide a more balanced perspective. It’s also wise to study other multi-generational family businesses to learn the pitfalls and challenges of succession.
Lastly, while each decade has presented its share of threats to the TAS industry, there seems to be more now than ever before. Being ready to deal with these challenges requires even more preparation, as well as fortitude.
As long as the next generation receives all the training needed to continue the legacy, a TAS is still a great business to own and operate, especially when it’s the family business.