The Profit: A Lack of Passion Sinks Family Business
70% of second generation business fail. Why? Because the children who inherit the businesses often lack the passion and skills to keep it going. Marcus Lemonis found that out first hand when he visited a Pasadena flower shop in this week’s episode of The Profit.
(Photo by: CNBC / c NBC Universal, Inc. )
When Jacob Maarse opened his florist shop in the 1950’s, he poured his heart and soul into the business making it one of the most successful shops in all of Pasadena. He supplied flowers for inaugurations, celebrity galas and the famous Rose Bowl Parade. But now, Jacob is gone and under his son Hank’s leadership the business has accumulated $300,000 in debt and is losing money every year.
Enter entrepreneur Marcus Lemonis with a deal. He’ll put $100,000 into the business in return for 25% of the profits going forward. In order to seal the deal though, Hank has to allow Marcus to run the business for a week.
Hank is reluctant but knowing that his mother is now spending her life savings to keep the company a float, he has no choice but to agree. They seal the deal with a handshake – but it’s the start of nothing but trouble.
Right away Marcus spots several ways to make the flower shop more shopable. He removes the clutter, creates a clearance section in the back to reduce the inventory (some of which has been in the store for five years) and makes it easy for the customers to see the floral designers – the real show stoppers of the shop.
Marcus also installs an inventory control system, new lighting, security cameras, GPS systems in the delivery vans, repaints the walls, lays new tiles on the floor and shows Hank how to save money on quality flowers.
The changes are a nice boost for the workers and the customers but there’s a bigger problem – Hank. And as Marcus says, “people can be the hardest thing to fix.”
Hank’s idea of leadership is to let everyone struggle through the day. The driver’s deliver flowers in un-air conditioned vans with old school maps to find their way. The warehouse workers track inventory by hand in a notebook. The store’s general manager Marina doesn’t know what things cost or how much money they’re making and she allows the workers to wander in late.
Marcus demotes her to retail manager but her lack of skills aren’t really her fault. It all trickles down from Hank who is sleep walking through the day.
Hank defends his behavior by saying he’s not comfortable with confrontations. The truth is, Hank didn’t choose this business, he inherited it and the stress of living up to his father’s memory has caused him to shut down.
Running a small business is hard. When you lack the passion, it’s impossible so Marcus pushes hard to see if there’s even a spark left in Hank. But as the shop returns to its former glory, the old employees who started under Jacob Maarse are excited and inspired. Even Marina, who was demoted and had every right to be upset, put her anger aside in order to save the business.
Reopening day was a huge success. Sales increased. Customers loved the new look of the store and employee morale was at an all time high.
But Hank was on his way home. He told Marcus that he figured the day was almost over, so why not?
Why not? “A successful business owner shows up early and leaves last,” says Marcus. And to run out on reopening day just proves that Hank isn’t interested in being a leader.
On most make-over shows, the episode would end with Hank seeing the error of his ways. He apologizes and the company thrives. Not on The Profit. In what has to be one of the crazier moments in biz make-over history, Hank tells Marcus that he’s no longer interested in the partnership deal because Marcus didn’t make good on his promises.
Even though we heard Hank acknowledge the $150,000 spent on improvements earlier in the show, he claims Marcus didn’t spend more than a few thousand on lights and “graffiti” on the wall. Then he claims that Marcus promised a 200% increase in sales in one week. No one would make such an insane claim. Still Hank used that as grounds for canceling their contract.
In the end, Marcus left without a partnership agreement or his $150,000. He says he plans to take legal action but he better hurry. With the way Hank is handling the shop and his employees, Jacob Maarse Florist will be bankrupt by the end of the year.
What Do You Think?
What do you do when your passion for your job starts to fade? Are their ways to get it back or is it best to move on? Leave your answers in the comment section below.
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