Working with your Spouse

Out of all the questions I am asked since purchasing my own business, the one that seems to come up the most is ” What is it like to work with your spouse?” I will start off by saying that this scenario is definitely not for everyone. It takes a special kind of relationship to pull this off. Out of all the risks and dangers of purchasing a multi million dollar business, this one seemed to be the top of the list for most people who had concerns for us. To have a couple in business together in the automotive world is an extremely rare thing. In fact I cant think of any other dealership that shares this dynamic. Most of the dealerships in the GTA are owned and operated by large or mid size dealer groups. Its rare to find stores that are owned by individuals let alone a spousal couple. We have now been classified as GTA’s official Mom and Pop Shop. A title both Katie and I wear proudly. Recently AutoWorld Magazine published an article about us calling it exactly that.

So how do you work with the person you live with? How do you make it work? Well, its hard to answer that question in a few short sentences but here is how I would sum it up.

First, you need to be nice. I know it sounds weird but its exactly true. Its all about listening to your partner and treating them with respect and courtesy. For any good owner this should hold true with each and every one of your employees but you need to make 100% sure you do this with your spousal partner as well.

Second, try to avoid arguments as much as you can. Once again, much easier said then done but this is an important one. 2 strong willed people get together and have different opinions on a situation and the result could wind up in fireworks. Listen to your partner. Don’t interrupt them when they are speaking their side of the situation. Let them finish what they have to say and then take your turn to talk your side of what you are thinking. compromise is the key here. You may win the fight but you will lose the battle in the long run.

Third, make sure you don’t forget about spending time with each other. Make time for the relationship. Although is almost impossible to not take work home with you when you are business owners, you still need to remember to make time for each other and the relationship. If you are going to talk about work at dinner or at home, make it constructive and talk about ways to improve the business or situations that happened that are positive. Try not to talk about things that could potentially start a fireworks kind of evening.

Make sure that before you decide to work with your spouse you are doing it for the right reasons. If its to bring your spouse in to help save the business then chances are it wont work out. You need to both agree that you BOTH want to work together and that you will agree to disagree. Being partners in life is one thing but being partners in life and work is a completely different thing. I know some of you reading this are thinking that there is no way you could work everyday with your spouse and that I am completely nuts. And believe me, people have said this to me many times. To them I simply say, its not for everyone and if you are thinking of starting a business with your spouse make sure you follow these simple rules listed above. 401 Dixie Kia and Katie & Eric for me are not just a brand. Katie & Eric are who we are and we are very proud of what this is becoming. For me I love working with Katie and I myself wouldn’t have it any other way.