A father and son evaluate the operations of their family business.
In this business book, Kostika (Flow Management Technology, 1989) uses a fictional format in the tradition of Who Moved My Cheese? (1998) to explore the challenges inherent in the customer-facing aspects of a small business. When Dad informs Steve that he plans to retire and leave him in charge of the family’s tool repair business, Steve has a sleepless night as he analyzes the customer service challenges the firm has been facing. He reflects on his own experiences as a customer—an earlier frustration with a furniture restorer; a search for a midnight snack hampered by an ineffective cashier—in order to understand the expectations the company must meet, and he develops an understanding of several key metrics. In the morning, he shares his insights with Dad, and the two incorporate the observations of a hair salon owner and restaurateur as they develop a strategy for dealing with cyclical challenges. The book’s earnest tone (“Steve was not an artist. Yet, in his mind he pictured a humorous sketch of Dad’s idea”; “For a moment Steve felt that he was stuck, but his college education seemed to pay off once more. ‘I can use the 80/20 rule in order to expedite things,’ he thought”) reinforces its fablelike structure and informational purpose. At times the emphasis on the inherent nobility of Steve’s and Dad’s “Midwestern” attitudes and manners can be excessive (“One can only imagine what would have happened had Amos worked in New York City and faced an upset customer after such a delay”). The book does not attempt to guide readers to specific solutions to business problems but focuses on providing a framework for evaluating business cycles, customer relationships, and other fundamental concepts. While not a replacement for traditional business texts, Steve and Dad’s story may prove useful to readers looking for a new perspective on their own business challenges.
A business fable uses transition in a family-run company as a catalyst for analysis and insight.