Paul Bernardelli and Fabrizio 1Saba

Member Article

Keeping it in the Family

Brother-in-laws Paul Bernardelli and Fabrizio Saba have been business partners for more than 20 years. They originally met while working in the same restaurant, before they became family, and now co-own a trio of Italian eateries in Newcastle and Ponteland. Today, they’re sharing their experiences of mixing business and family and offering a few top tips to making it work.

1. Have clear responsibilities

“Our business may be family-run, but we still have very clear roles,” said Paul. “We have three sites in total - Sabatini and Prima in Newcastle and Fratelli in Ponteland – and we each take charge of one site, while sharing management of the other. This means that we can both enjoy some level of independence, with the added support of having someone to bounce ideas off and offer advice. It also ensures that each of the venues maintains its own identity, while still sticking to the same high standards of service and authentic Italian cuisine.

2. Communication is key

Fabrizio said. “Communication is important in any business, but is absolutely essential when family is involved. I’ve known Paul for such a long time and see him so much outside of the work environment that it can be easy to take things for granted and start making assumptions about what you think the other person would/wouldn’t be happy with. We made a pledge early on to do that as little as possible, to consult each other on major decisions and to keep all parties informed of smaller ones. Not everything can be done by committee but this seems to have served us well so far.

3. Keep a clear divide

“Perhaps the most fundamental rule of going into business with a family member is knowing where to draw the line,” said Fabrizio. “It’s easier said than done but you really need to differentiate between home and business. Don’t take family quarrels into the workplace and vice versa and where possible do not discuss business at family get-togethers, otherwise you’ll never feel like you’re getting time off.”

Paul added, “It’s also important to try and spend some of your leisure time without your business partner. Sport has been a great outlet for me in that respect and helps me take a little time for myself away from work and family.”

4. Get it in writing

“It doesn’t matter how close you are or how well you get along, things can always go wrong,” warns Paul. “Make sure you get everything in writing from the outset; who is responsible for what, how many hours you’ll both be expected to work, how profits/assests will be shared while the business is operation and when/if it closes, what will happen if one partner wants to leave the business etc. Having that in place will hopefully help keep things clear and stop any disagreements spilling out into family life.”

This was posted in Bdaily's Members' News section by Sorted PR .

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