Position #1: Our family built this business and we take on all the downside investment risk. As owners, we take many ownership perks (club memberships, cars, personal services performed by the business) so our owners appreciate some upside at very little cost to the business, providing that it is legal. That is what being an owner is about.
Position #2: We believe that owners deserve investment growth and dividends (when performance supports them), and we do not give owners any other special perks. That way our owners are focused on the performance of the company. Once you start having ownership perks, it just causes strains between management and owners and distracts us from our common purpose.
Where is the proper place to draw the line when it comes to taking ownership perks?
When the economy tanked in 2008, many business owning families trimmed employee pay and benefits, and reduced perks available to family members working in the business. While many have recovered with improved economic conditions, we see families struggle to balance their desire to professionalize their businesses (a force that moves them away from family perks) while still being an enticing enterprise for family employees (a force that moves them towards some family perks). Non family employees have moved from merely raising eyebrows at family perks to outright resentment (especially those who experienced cuts to their own wages and benefits). While it is easiest to choose a rigid position (either adopt a no family perks rule or simply say “who cares what non family managers think!”), many find these two ends of the spectrum unpalatable.