I am a huge fan of In-N-Out Burger and I am currently reading a book about the history of this amazing business – In-N-Out Burger: A Behind-the-Counter Look at the Fast-Food Chain That Breaks All the Rules. While there are many fascinating aspects to the story of this company, one is the succession that has occurred as they strive to stay a family business. Founded in Baldwin Park, California in 1948 by Harry and Esther Snyder, the first succession occurred when son, Rich Snyder, took over after Harry’s death in 1976. Rich died in a plane crash in 1993. Older brother, Guy Snyder, took over, but died from a drug overdose in 1999. The company is currently being guided by Harry and Esther’s only grandchild Lynsi. According to the book, the transition from Harry to Rich caused some hard feelings with his older brother Guy. Guy had struggled with addictions and it was clear he was not a good choice.
This is a common problem that family businesses face in planning for succession. Who to choose? As a business owner, you should start the succession process by identifying one or more potential successors. This should be someone who has demonstrated a passion for the business and is interested in running the business. You should also assess the potential successors skills and problems, especially those relevant to the business. Sometimes this requires hard decisions like those made by the Snyders. Once the successor is identified, you need to groom and train that person for success.
Next time you get a double double – remember how lucky we are the Snyders have made some good choices in their succession planning.