“My Staff Doesn’t DO Social Media” is Killing Your Social Media Potential

But my staff doesn't DO Social Media!

When I discuss how important in-house contribution is for social media marketing with (TOO MANY) small business owners, I hear:

“But, my staff doesn’t DO Social Media.”

First of all, statistics tell us that’s not true.

Not only does your staff own a smartphone, but have likely downloaded at least 2(00) social media apps to talk to friends and family, and play games. And during breaks, lunches, WHEN YOU AREN’T LOOKING, and at quitting time, they are ON social media. 

Oh, sure…, they’ll TELL you they aren’t on social media, but what that translates to is THEY ARE AFRAID you will put them in charge of your business page.

SOLUTION

At their next review, explain that in this age of digital marketing, social media marketing contribution is now a job requirement for all new hires. And for existing employees, reviews will include evaluations of their individual contribution to your social media efforts.

GUILT IS A TERRIBLE MOTIVATOR

Yeah, yeah, I know the guilt seeps in… You tell me you are a lousy example of social media business participation so you figure you can’t ask them to do what you don’t do. Wrong!

  • Since when do you know how to do everything your staff knows how to do?

Their contribution is IMAGES, anecdotes, and testimonials

They won’t use their data, add an app, or use their SmartPhone.

Starting on the most basic level, they will take candid photos of your business in action, customer testimonials, anything that reflects your business success. You should also provide a store notebook to jot down anecdotal material for your social media content.

BUY a digital camera for the store or business, and leave it readily accessible to staff.  They can virtually begin contributing to your social media marketing as soon as you brief them on camera use and care.

  • Yes, you need protocols for what is/isn’t appropriate to photograph and how often.
  • Yes, you need to set up a Dropbox, Google Photos (which is cool because of enhancement features), or other cloud account folder for your photos.
  • Yes, you will be responsible for transferring those images from the camera to your computer via the included USB cable to the Dropbox or whatever folder.
  • Yes, you or your trusty admin whom you have given shared access to your cloud folder will then have to share them to your Social Media page(s).

But, other than that, that’s IT! Any and every person on the staff should be allowed to have some fun with the camera catching some on-the-floor moments which can lead to bigger and better participation. YouTube is your next goal.

Just one candid photo per week can mean a boost to your Social Media stats.

Here’s hoping you aim higher.

Fans are more likely to follow

…if they get the feeling they know you and your business. That’s what the photos provide – an inside look.

Now go buy a darn digital camera.

You can get them for less than $200. Or, spend a little more and it will come with wi-fi for easy transfer. It’s a business deduction – a marketing expense!

Now I hope you are saying to yourself, “Why didn’t I think of all this?”

SMBs: An Unhappy Staff Will Kill Your Marketing Efforts

UN HAPPYAs Dr. Phil would say, “How’s that working for ya?”

You spent a fortune on marketing, but you have a disgruntled staff. Yes, the hiring pool is high, but do you really want to sabotage your marketing efforts and business stability with an unhappy staff?

  • A simple thank you goes a long way.
  • An occasional perk (like a reward of free product or a healthy employee discount) never hurt in lieu of better wages you can’t pay.
  • Incentive programs boost morale, and therefore, productivity.
  • Birthday and holiday recognitions may seem trivial, but they provide a loyalty ROI.

If you are not recognizing and appreciating your employees, you are placing the health of your business at risk. Unhappy employees are less productive, more prone to error, and may begin to pilfer.

A pat on the back, a thank you for extra effort, an occasional free lunch, recognition at a staff meeting and on your social media for a job well done…these simple efforts can mean the difference for your continued success as a business.

Why is this so important for Marketing?

Your awesome marketing may bring those new customers in the door, but what if your employees don’t shower those new customers with love and loyalty for the biz?

You’re budget is tight, but your wallet will be tighter if you lose your best assets – faithful and loyal employees.

SMB Owners: Don’t Get Bogged Down in Your Bookkeeping

You Can't Afford NOTto Delegate

Franchisees and small business owners of all kinds:

Business suffering because you’re bogged down with administrative mess? You say you didn’t sign up for bookkeeping when you dreamed of your new business?

Not focusing on what you love is a BIG mistake.  And guess what? There are people out there who LOVE bookkeeping. Yes, it’s true! And, thankfully, they are ready for hire.

EVEN IF YOU KNOW HOW

You choose a business because you are following your bliss, your passion, your venue to champion your skills. My guess is you never gave a damn about bookkeeping, ordering, payroll, maintenance, or many of the duties that are so necessary to run a successful business. Just because you know how doesn’t always mean you should.

I bet you’re still mowing your own lawn, too.

Time for a wake-up call

So why aren’t you hiring people to do those tasks? Or at the very least, delegating it to the person on your staff who does enjoy and excel at that kind of work?
The excuse I hear over and over is that you can’t afford to hire another person to handle those chores. You can’t afford NOT to!

Start with part-time help

There are many people who are taking on clients like you on a part-time basis:

  • Virtual Assistants
  • College Interns
  • Stay-at-home Moms/Dads who are dying to talk to adults and keep their fingers in the work  world part-time
  • consultants who want to make their own hours, and more.

Yes, you will have to monitor their work, but do hire someone to do what you hate or is eating up quality time in your business. Get back to your business at hand. You will be less stressed without those duties hanging over your head and they will do a better job with the full focus you need. That is what THEY love to do.

A Comedy of Customer Service Errors – a Marketing vs Sales story

Ruby Tuesday on North Carolina Highway 54 in D...
Image via Wikipedia

It is so important for Marketing and Sales to communicate. Ruby Tuesday and other chains must spend a fortune on their marketing; from print to broadcast, decor, menus, layout, everything. But if the on-the-floor experience doesn’t match the marketing, whose fault is it? Marketing or Operations – or both?

A true story. The little things really DO matter.

I was telling colleagues this story of a customer experience I had, and they all said I positively must blog about it. It’s true and not exaggerated, so I hope you enjoy this crazy little adventure of mine… To me, it is a great example of how operations and marketing must work together or both sides suffer.

Turn on the Wayback Machine

Waaaay back in 2004, I was a troubleshooting store manager at a (then) new outlet mall in a (then) fairly unsophisticated and remote location in North Georgia. Thankfully, the area has come a long way since then.

It was a tough adjustment for me, spoiled from working in major metropolitan areas with a wealth of hiring potential… “Dueling Banjos” from the movie “Deliverance” was playing in the back of my mind…

We just wanted to eat

It was time for the annual inventory, so, in anticipation of a long worknight, I planned to treat my staff to dinner and some great coffee. Simple enough – or so I thought. I forgot that this area was satisfied withcoffee that came in jars of brown powder. But I held hope for dinner… a new Ruby Tuesday had opened in the far end of the mall’s parking lot. Hooray – we can avoid Food Court heartburn!

An actual coffee bar had opened in the food court, too! I was so happy we had the option of real food and real coffee to ease the dreaded task of counting every item in the store – accurately.

Even better, Ruby’s had curb side pickup. I called ahead and ordered for everyone. They gave me my total, asked for the description of my car, and told me the order would be ready to pick up in 20 minutes. Perfect! I thought to myself, I’ll head on over while the staff closes the day’s business. How much easier could it get?

Wanted: Revolving Doors

I headed over to the Ruby Tuesday restaurant and parked in the pick-up spot in front of the curbside door near the backside of the restaurant. While watching every other waiting car get orders filled, I noticed something odd… The server did not go back in to the restaurant through the same door he exited. Instead, he walked to the front entrance… huh? He did this 4 more times, each time moving a little faster to get to that front door. Not surprisingly, my curiosity was peaking. Why didn’t he go back in the way he came out?

I was kept waiting and waiting for my order. The next time the server popped out, I waved him over and he assured me my order was on the way. Hmmmmm….  I waited a little longer and still no order. I decided I had to investigate. I left my car and now I’m annoyed for keeping my staff waiting. I walked to the curb side pick-up door and surprise! Locked. Now we all know why the server kept returning by way of the front door, but still don’t know why he couldn’t do anything about it.

We can’t make that item for ya – or anything else either

I walked to the front door and the hostess directed me to the service bar which handled curbside orders. I walked over and inquired. Someone went to check and returned apologetic. They were out of lettuce!!! They said they were waiting to know what I wanted to substitute. And they were going to ask me when?!? And what restaurant runs out of lettuce? Seriously? (only back then we weren’t saying “Seriously” so I probably said, “Really?”).

I asked about 3 other items – nope, nada, don’t have the items to make it. Finally I settled for something I hoped the staff would like and they went back into the kitchen after some more mumblings of apologies.

I didn’t trust them anymore

I decided to wait at the bar since it was hot outside, not to mention I also now had a trust issue emerging. Boy, good thing Twitter was still 2 years away… what a stream of bad customer service tweets were waiting here.

I’m still sitting there waiting… I was the only customer in the area, so I became privy to some staff chatter I probably wasn’t supposed to hear:

Why aren’t you using the curb door to come back in?

It’s locked.

Well, go get the key! 

Steve has it.

Well where’s Steve?

Nobody’s seen him for the last 20 minutes.

Ba-dum-tss….

If there had been Twitter, my feed would have been smoking! You couldn’t have scripted this better.

Then, finally, my order came out. Whew! But I was running out of time and still had to go to the “gourmet” coffee shop in the food court…

Again, what was I thinking?

So I get to the coffee place in the food court. They were still open for a few hours, so I should have no trouble here.  hahahahahahahahahaha :D

We only have regular?

I ordered a few flavored coffees. The young lady said, “We’re out of the flavored coffees, we just have regular.” I stepped back to look at the sign to make sure I was actually standing at the “Coffee bar.” Yup.  I was at the right place – at least according to the sign…

I asked her when some flavored coffee might be ready.

She said they weren’t going to make anymore.

I wanted to give her the benefit of the doubt by asking if she were closing early or some such story that would make some kind of sense of her statement. She said no, that they just only make so much flavored coffee per day and so she wasn’t going to make anymore.

Wait, there’s more.

No stir sticks?

I was running out of time, so I just gave up and ordered regular coffee all around. Then I asked for cream and sugar. She wanted a specific number of creams and sugars before she would give me any.

And lastly – she was out of spoons and stir sticks! Unbelievably, I had to walk down to each of the next 3 food court stores before I could find spoons. The first one actually had some, but told me I couldn’t have any of his because I didn’t buy anything from him.

I was beginning to feel like this was some kind of customer service Twilight Zone and that surely I would wake up soon! First the food fiasco and now the food court and coffee stand fail.

Nope. It was real.

As I was walking out with my coffee and spoons, I spotted a familiar face at the courtesy desk and recounted my horrors of customer service. We agreed the hiring pool was just too dry. We wrapped up our conversation on the trials of hiring in an arena of folks that thought getting a Wal-Mart was their route to becoming akin to a big city.

Then, up walks an unshaven young guy in overalls and flip-flops asking for an application for a job. The courtesy desk host asked for which store was he applying? He said he didn’t know – what stores did they have? We all laughed and told him to turn around as he was in the middle of over 40 different stores in the food court alone.

He shrugged, we wanted to laugh.

I walked back to my store to share our regular coffee and non-lettuce bearing adjusted menu items… and went to work on our inventory.

So, corporate, listen up. What happens on the floor is what determines your ROI in marketing. You can spend all you want on marketing, but if operations aren’t up to par, your money is wasted.

SMBs, Coach Your Staff Daily for Success

City Market Tourist Info, Savannah, GADo you communicate daily with your staff?

Ever notice how the more successful restaurants have daily meetings with staff before they start their shift?

  • menu changes
  • staff issues
  • maintenance problems
  • staff division of duties and tables

It is critical in the restaurant business for the best possible diner experience to enable a profitable outcome. Management reviews these items BEFORE staff interacts with customers.

So why don’t ALL small businesses follow this practice?

Recently, at a tourist info kiosk in Savannah, Georgia, I overheard the person coming on shift complaining to the leaving shift person: “And again, why do I know nothing about this?”  Lack of communication is always the main complaint in the workplace in a multi-shift business environment. Why? Take a look at the image of this lone kiosk worker – many small businesses have staff that work alone or come on to a shift after management goes home. All too often, changes or necessary updates go unnoticed or unaware. This causes mistakes, unhappy customers, profit loss, and more.

A “Get up to Speed” daily staff session is critical for your success. Weekly meetings are not practical in a multi-shift business. Find the means that works best to communicate regularly. Email, bulletin boards, communications notebook, dry erase board, voice mails, a Facebook Group page, Google Hangout …whatever it takes!

Yes, it takes time and preparation on you or your manager’s part, but would you rather spend that valuable time fixing problems caused by a lack of communication?

“On Memorial Day…

“On Memorial Day, America’s thoughts go to the courageous men and women of the United States Armed Forces who gave their lives for the country they love. They defended our Nation, liberated the oppressed, and served the cause of liberty. Every moment we live in freedom was secured by their sacrifice, and every American is in their debt. We can never repay what they gave for this country, but on this holiday, we acknowledge that debt by showing our respect and gratitude.
“Laura and I join a grateful Nation in paying tribute to the brave citizens who laid their lives down for our liberty. May we always honor them. May we always embrace their families. And may we always be faithful to who they were and what they fought for.
“May God bless our troops, veterans, and the families who stand beside them. And may God continue to bless America.” George W. Bush

Yes, this is a big retail, DIY, and BBQ weekend, but we do still remember the reason we have this long weekend.

A safe and Happy Memorial Day to all!

Being an Entrepreneur Means Showing What You are Made Of

Jill Abramson, Former Executive Editor of New York Times giving Commencement Speech at Wake Forest University

Jill Abramson, former Executive Editor of the New York Times, gave the 2014 commencement speech at Wake Forest University. Quite appropriately, Wake Forest requested she speak on resilience. Her controversial firing from the NYT just the week previous made the topic most meaningful.

As a Small Business consultant, I am often energized and inspired by my clients’ resilience. Some of them are franchisees facing years of decline of the franchisor. Many of them are hoping the franchisor will stop rearranging the deck chairs and let the ship sink because It is hard for them to continue to pay royalties for so little support in return from a struggling company. And in light of their contractual bonds, they have amazing resilience facing each day in limbo, wondering when and if the other shoe will drop.

But if there is one thing I have observed in serving only small business owners; it is their incredible resilience in tough times. As an entrepreneur, whether franchisee or independent owner, you are already taking enormous financial and personal risks to run your own business. But, the reward is immeasurable.

I, too, am an entrepreneur, and face the same sense of the mystery of the next day, month, and even year, in regard to my future. But I am grateful everyday for the resilience I have gained through being my own boss.

So, for me, and I am sure many others, listening to Jill Abramson’s commencement speech today was an inspiration. Her smile and confidence spoke volumes in terms of the positive reaches of upset and challenge. She spoke of her father’s words of wisdom in times of failures: “Show what you are made of.”

Well said.