Though his son has grown up around the business—and the industry—Cody Whelchel, owner of Texas-based Cody Landscape, says the process of transitioning business ownership to his son has been more complicated than he anticipated. Currently in the midst of that process, Whelchel, who founded the landscape design, installation and maintenance business in 1986 along with his wife Shelly, shares a few key things he’s learned.
Transitioning Business Ownership Lesson #1: Take it One Step at a Time
The biggest lesson Whelchel learned is that transitioning business ownership is not an overnight process. One must take things one step at a time. This ensures his son can master each skill. Currently the operations manager, Whelchel’s son will have to learn a whole new set of skills to become owner.
“Part of the trouble is that I’ve always just performed my job and never really thought much of teaching him what I was doing—I just did it,” Whelchel reflects. “Looking back, it would have been easier if I had shown him things along the way. While immersed in the business, running it becomes second nature. I just did it. When I think about everything I do as owner, it’s a lot to teach someone.”
Transitioning Business Ownership Lesson #2: Use Support
One of the things that has helped Whelchel the most is leaning on outside support. His son recently joined Marty Grunder’s Grow Group Peer Group, and Whelchel says that’s helped him talk to other business owners.
“It’s a two-year commitment and they talk once a week and meet quarterly,” Whelchel says. “It’s helped him to talk to other owners and ask how they do things. I don’t want him to become a clone of me. There’s a lot more out there than just the way I did business. I think he can take what I’ve done and make it even better. I’m not one to tell him he has to do everything my way.”
Transitioning Business Ownership Lesson #3: Understand that it’s a Balance
Balance is the key to the transitioning process, Whelchel has learned. Welchel is currently in a place where he’s trying to keep this transition moving without hurting the process.
“I’m trying to do this transition as slow but as fast as possible,” he says. “What I mean by that is I want him to feel enough pressure to keep pushing forward in doing it on his own. But I also don’t want him to have a bad experience and collapse under the pressure. I’m trying to make myself available for support but also leave him to do it on his own as much as possible. It’s a delicate balance.”