Quality Service Contractors members learned how to deal with family members in their businesses, with difficult customers and with stress, as well as hone their marketing skills and get themselves organized at the group's Power Meeting XXI, held July 22-24 in San Francisco.

Dr. Dennis Jaffe, Ph.D, of consulting firm Aspen Family Business Group, has helped family businesses all over the world. He spoke about the unique dynamics present in a family business, as well as the difficulties of these businesses surviving from one generation to the next. He said that 44 percent of family businesses fail in the first generation, 40 percent survive to the second generation, 15 percent survive to the third generation, and only 1 percent survive to the fourth generation.

Why do they fail? "Two main reasons: family issues overwhelm the business, and family members neglect renewal of the business," he explained. "To keep family and business issues separate, set boundaries within the home for talking about the business, and create a respectful working relationship when a family member enters the business."

Families also must make sure to keep renewing the business so it does not stagnate - hiring "new blood" to stir things up, developing long-range plans for future growth, focusing on innovation, letting go of the past, etc.

Developing listening skills and a positive attitude can help you deal with difficult customers, or other difficult people in your life, according to Mark Matteson, president of Pinnacle Service Group.

"Some organizations have made outstanding customer service a part of their vision, values, goals and behavior," he said. "They offer exceptional value in their own unique way and ... we are spoiled to the point of fierce loyalty."

He cited Nordstrom's, Starbucks, Morton's Steak House, the Four Seasons hotel and TD Industries as companies who embody this "exceptional" customer service idea.

Other presentations included Brian Stuhlmuller on organizing skills, Gary Elekes on the QSC Marketing Manual, Bob Miller of Federated Insurance on risk management, Lake Coulson from PHCC on politics, and closing keynote speaker Roger Crawford on "bouncing back" from stress and setbacks.

QSC also held a charity golf tournament July 22, which raised $7,680 for Challenge Air, an aviation program that benefits physically handicapped children and youth.

The next Power Meeting is Feb. 22-24, 2005, in Savannah, Ga.