Family Business

The three circles of a family business system


3 min




Watch the Reinkes, a first generation franchise family business in the food industry operating Tim Hortons franchises in Alberta, Canada, explain how they have come to learn to better distinguish between family time and business time for the well-being of the family and the success of the business.


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Dale Reinke
We found out there are actually three circles in family business there is the business circle, there is the family circle and there is the ownership circle and these circles all overlap and right in the middle we are involved in all three as we own the business, we have a family, and we run the business. So we are right in the center of that. And what we found out was happening, Melanie and her husband Steve were in the business and they were the only family members so when we had family meals, we found out the other family members were saying, “You know what if we have a family meal we notice that Mom and Dad and Melanie and Steve are always sitting at one end of the table and they are talking business. And we do not understand the business, we do not ... View More particularly care at a family function about the business, we want to talk with the family.” So we realized that we were operating in the wrong circles at the wrong time.

Pamela Ritchie
We have only been working for a week and a half so, so far the dynamics between the family are great. They made a point of, you know, not discussing business in front of us and not always talking about business when the family was together. So I never felt out of place or anything like that and I think that is really what my parents tried to focus on is not having that division.

Dale Reinke
We realize that now at home when we have a family meal Melanie and Steve do not particularly try to sit beside us and we certainly do not talk business at any point in time, If there is something that we need to discuss we go off in a corner for a few seconds and we make it very short because the other family members know what we are doing.

Melanie Schattle
I think it is important for my siblings that are not involved to know that they are important too and not being left out just because they are not involved in the business.

Steve Schattle
I think from the family point of view one of the big successes we have is that we can still all get together and get along right? Since not that everyone is in the family business.

Dale Reinke
I think that was a real eye opener for us to operate in a proper circle at the proper time. And that helped us as well with Melanie and Steve, we can sit down with them and have a real curt business meeting and they are not offended. As soon as the meeting is done we can say “Ok Melanie and Steve, let us go for lunch, it is lunch time now.” We change our hats, and put on a family hat, and so we have to know which hat to wear at which time. So to keep the family dynamics in place I think that was probably the most important thing I took out of it.