View from the wall: A 2040 meeting
The year is 2040. In the executive boardroom of Two Men And A Truck, my portrait takes pride of place on the wall, a satin black ribbon draped around it.
On the mantelpiece is a large Chinese urn. A little note stuck to it reads, “Not To Be Used As An Ashtray.”
On a shelf behind a row of dusty procedure manuals stands a glass jam jar containing my brain, preserved in formalin. (It didn’t need much pickling.)
Anyone who’s ever stared at great art knows that there is a soul behind the eyes of every masterpiece. Behind my portrait, I’m watching. My eyes are glued to what is happening in the business. Will my vision be complete? Will my descendants carefully preserve my years of hard work?
Why is it so quiet in the office? There’s no one answering the phone! In fact, there is no phone, and there’s no one taking bookings either!
Silly me. It’s 2040. There are no more telephones, and people don’t take the bookings any more. The computer takes the calls, records the booking and transfers it all to the system. Any complaints are automatically sent directly to digital trashcan.
Using the latest technology available, the younger members of the team have been able to download all of my brain mass to the computer. And although it fits onto something smaller than a fingernail, it has increased the power output so much that the system is at breaking point. Ideas and inspiration are pouring out at incredible speeds.
Busy at work are my gorgeous twin granddaughters, Isabella and Adriana. They’re discussing the operations. Our international manager—my granddaughter Tahlia—is connecting from our London office to join the conversation, not through Skype or video conferencing but through telepathic communication!
“Business survival in these competitive times is about survival of the fittest,” Isabella says. “We want to ensure that our family can survive into another generation and that the business can support a growing family. Let’s face it; these are pretty challenging times.”
“As you can see from the figures,” says Adriana, “our profit has declined 20% compared to last year.
“The main reason for that is that the drivers’ hourly wage is now $680 per hour. On top of that, we have to pay 40% GST, 20% workers comp and 30% holiday loading.
“It is now costing us nearly $1,000 per hour just to pay the driver. To make a profit we will have to increase our current price structure to $3,900 per hour. This will cost the average customer $25,000 to move a small standard home.
“Also, to cut costs, we have had to reduce our own wages to only $7 million a year each.”
From behind the painting I can see it all. I am very proud my granddaughters are taking over. They sure are a couple of fiery women!
“To run a family business you need to have a clear long-term vision,” Isabella says. “You need to give each member a sense of where you are headed as a family, and you have to be clear on each other’s path to the top. This has got to be written down and shared with everyone in the team.”
“At the time it seemed unnecessary and time-consuming,” Adriana says. “Poor Granddad, he did get a lot of criticism. But we know that laying out the fundamentals has given the family a great foundation for its future.”
Tahlia asks everyone to rise.
“The fundamental success of us working together as a family is because our grandparents have set up a family structure,” she says. “The family charter is the document we all still abide by today. A lot has changed and we are all still just as dysfunctional today as ever, but our family values have never wavered. So I would like to propose a toast to our family.
“To our family!
“You may now be seated.”
Well I can’t, girls. I’m hanging on the wall!
Richard Kuipers is owner/CEO of Two Men And A Truck (Australia) Pty Ltd in Sydney, Australia (Richard@twomen.com.au). He recently welcomed his first grandson, Byron Richard, to the family.
Copyright 2012 by Family Business Magazine. This article may not be posted online or reproduced in any form, including photocopy, without permssion from the publisher. For reprint information, contact email@example.com.