December 1, 2020

131: Working With Friends and Family with Chris Prefontaine

Working with family or close friends might seem like a recipe for disaster. But, when approached with clarity and open communications, it can be a highly rewarding experience for everyone.

Today’s guest is Chris Prefontaine. Chris is the founder of Smart Real Estate Coach, host of the Smart Real Estate Coach Podcast and best selling author of 2017’s Real Estate on Your Terms and this year’s The New Rules of Real Estate Investing. He operates his family business with his son, Nick, his daughter, Kayla, his son-in-law, Zach, and an amazing team.

Chris and I talk about the complexities of working with family or close friends, how to create a culture that feels like family at work, what to consider if you’re thinking of starting a business or hiring a friend or family member and more. This was a particularly fun episode because as you’ll hear, I’m also part of a family business, and, given that last week’s interview with Dave Schramm was about the connection between family and workplace culture, it seemed appropriate that this conversation should follow that one.

Members of The Modern Manager community get the guide to working with friends and family. Non-members can purchase the guide at

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Read the related blog article: How to Create A Healthy Work Culture in a Family Business

Key Takeaways:

  • If you have both related and unrelated employees on your team, create a work culture that makes everyone feel like they’re family.
  • Establish a company mission and core values. Use them to guide your decisions instead of basing them on biases or gut reactions.
  • Hire for mission and values fit, rather than on a person’s relationship to you. This will ensure a level playing field for your employees regardless of their relationship to you.
  • To encourage a healthy culture based on your values, decide as a team what behaviors you want to see. Publicly recognize when anyone sees an employee exemplifying that behavior.
  • Establish clear, constant communication by using Morning Pow-Wow team meetings to bring everyone on the same page, collectively work through solutions, and enhance efficiency and productivity.
  • Make clear boundaries between your work and home life. Don’t bring negativity or challenges from work into your home / personal conversations.
  • Some benefits to managing a family business are (1) deeper pre-existing trust of the person, (2) the ability to set up generational wealth, and (3) the chance to invest in your family by giving them opportunities to try new things and watch them grow.


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