The Neville Trust Group, a fifth-generation family-run business, that consists of Neville Funerals, Neville Special Projects, Neville Trust and Neville Joinery, has embedded itself deeply within its regional communities for over 140 years, offering support well beyond its remit as a local enterprise. With nine funeral branches across Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire, and Buckinghamshire, and a range of construction sites across that area and wider, the business is committed to serving families during their time of need.
In 2019/2020, there were over 5 million family businesses in the UK, which generated over a third of UK GDP. As the Neville Trust Group looks forward to its 150-year anniversary, the company shares its insights into what it takes to run an authentic and reliable family heritage business, and how their reputation has underpinned their success.
T & E Neville, the founding business, was established in 1875 by two brothers, Thomas and Edward Neville. Originally trained as joiners, offering building, joinery and undertaking services, the company quickly evolved through both WWI and WWII, expanding its reach and reputation.
Now, 147 years since the brothers first went into business together, the group of businesses continues to serve and support local communities. But with fifth and now sixth generations of the founding family actively involved in the business, what does it take to run a historically successful heritage firm?
Dedication to business:
Despite being a business steeped in tradition, Neville’s has not shied away from modernisation and adapting to new challenges.
The Covid-19 crisis, coupled with current economic uncertainty and ongoing civil and political unrest has prompted family business leaders all over the globe to review their plans for the future, with questions of succession planning and next generation engagement significantly becoming a key focus.
Working consistently towards a shared family vision, Neville’s is passionate in showcasing its corporate heritage through its sheer commitment and dedication to investing in building personal ties with their team, and customers.
Drive and determination are projected through passionate individuals that are invested in a company and want to make a change. Personal ties to companies are easier to form in family businesses, strengthening relationships and care from your team. Employees that see their work within their communities fall into place successfully will consequently be validated, and their efforts and investment in the business amplified. These team members are invaluable to the success of family businesses.
Communication for success:
Neville’s has consistently remained invested in success across its teams and the wider industries. Communication both internally and externally, alongside a well-established and transparent culture of nurture and support, is pivotal.
For all business, community investment is not only the right thing to do, but it also provides a shared benefit for everyone that is involved. Engaging locally, and within the industry is also a great way for any business, large or small to build relationships, boost visibility and raise awareness.
As businesses and teams expand, the importance of internal communication being set up is vital in ensuring that everyone feels heard. The usage of internal newsletters, employee benefits, internal appraisals, and a strong communication internally that allows for team to voice concerns.
Communication should be hardwired into the DNA of every business, across the board, to provide great service and support, not only externally, but internally within teams, too.
Investing in team members:
LinkedIn’s 2018 Workforce Learning Report revealed that 93% of employees stay with a company longer if it invests in their careers. It is important for all businesses to invest in their team. It allows for individuals to follow their passions and build their confidence and trust within the business.
Companies that encourage team loyalty distinguish themselves from their competitors and reap the benefits, including happier employees, loyal customers, and a strong corporate presence. Encouraging teams to unite, work with other companies, charities, and schools, to fundraise, sponsor, and support people locally, and nationally contribute to the wider investment in teams and reputation.
When being in a highly competitive job market, it is important to distinguish yourself from competitors. It is imperative to invest in, and be vocal about employee development opportunities, with a strong training focus, and incorporating this into financial budgets.
The offering of apprenticeships is a productive and effective way to grow a talent and invest in developing a motivated, skilled, and qualified workforce. Mental health first aid training and awareness is vital in ensuring your workforce are understood and cared for, and incorporating everyone into the family, whether blood or not, is essential to creating a culture of nurture and support.
Corporate social responsibility:
The key principles and corporate responsibility of any family business are shared down through generations and preserved to continue the values that have made the company so successful.
Being actively being involved within the community and supporting causes that align with mission statements and values are key to reflecting business direction and messaging.
Corporate social responsibility is not only important for company reputation, but for employees too. Allowing employees to contribute and delve into family business as much as everyone is vital in their success, having team members feeling as though they are positively invested in, and contributing toward the greater good. Investing within your team, providing team guidance, and acting on suggestions to better the business is critical in showing your team that they have a voice and that you value their opinions.
CSR should not take away from the bottom line, but add to, and build reputation, creating a wider positive economic impact.
There are unique challenges that come with family business but having clear boundaries between work and home is essential. Much like a family, it is crucial, for balance, to have different members, opinions, and qualities within a team.
Hybrid working has risen from 13% in early February 2022 to 24% in May 2022. Although its not possible for some businesses, providing flexibility is crucial in ensuring that new part-time and flexible hour roles are available to new employees – attracting new candidates to the business including those that have made a complete career change to join the firm and others that need part-time contracts in order to work alongside family and other commitments.
The measurement of success for many family businesses extends past their profit margins, and looks at its achievements of managing relationships, as much as the business they run.