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Navigating Family Business: Lessons from Father and Son Duo of Scrubs Soft Wash

Starting a business is never an easy journey, but doing it alongside family, particularly with a son, is a unique adventure with its own set of challenges and rewards. I'm Eric Tilley; I’m a veteran of the home services industry, and a little over a year ago I started Scrubs Soft Wash in Canton, GA with my son, Brock.

In that time, I have learned from our shared venture that there are some universal rules you can apply whether you’re a solo service provider or you have an entire fleet of vehicles servicing your whole community.

1. Set Clear Boundaries Between Business and Personal Relationships.

It’s an uphill battle to avoid blending personal and professional dynamics, especially when it's family. However, Brock and I always prioritized our personal relationship. We didn't merge paths because of our bloodline; we did it because of our shared values, complementary skills, and vision. Brock is my son, but if he wasn’t the kind of person I would want to partner with, Scrubs would never have gotten off the ground.

Lesson: If your motivation to partner with family doesn’t go beyond blood ties, reconsider.

2. Determine a Decision-Making Hierarchy.

In every business, especially those with shared ownership, there will be disagreements. How you navigate these is critical. We established early on that, while we own Scrubs 50/50, I would be the one to make the final decision in the event of a deadlock.

Lesson: Everyone should always know where the buck stops.

3. Clearly Define Roles and Responsibilities.

Defining roles prevents overlapping efforts and potential conflict. We intentionally mapped out an organizational chart to delineate our responsibilities. As the business scaled, we were equipped to delegate effectively. It’s allowed each of us to focus on the things that we excel at, while trusting that the other person is doing the things that they’re uniquely gifted to do.

Lesson: Clarity in responsibilities is foundational for business growth.

4. Let Mistakes be Learning Opportunities.

One of the hardest lessons for me was allowing Brock the space to tackle challenges and sometimes even make mistakes. Every error, every misjudgment, they're all part of his learningjourney. Instead of playing the role of “Dad to the rescue,” I became an advisor and mentor so that he could find his own way. Giving him that space has allowed him to develop his own processes that are often more effective or efficient than if he had just done what I told him “because I said so.”
Lesson: Instead of shielding your partners and employees from mistakes, equip them to face and learn from them.

5. Trust in Each Other’s Integrity and Potential.

Knowing Brock's character was an essential cornerstone of our partnership. He’s built remarkable leadership skills over the years that I always watched him demonstrate within our home and our family, and among his close friends. By working together on Scrubs, I’ve been able to witness his leadership evolution. This has been especially true in the firm, graceful fairness he uses when managing his friends that are now our employees.

Lesson: Trust in the potential and the integrity of your partners and employees, and you might be pleasantly surprised at the untapped leadership qualities that emerge.

Starting Scrubs Soft Wash was more than a business opportunity. It was an enriching experience that fortified my bond with Brock and gifted us insights that are universally applicable.
As professionals in the pressure washing industry or any other, the core principles of trust, clarity, and continuous learning are instrumental for success, especially when partnering with family. Embrace these lessons, and you might just find that the journey becomes as rewarding as the destination.
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