Recently I had a friend pass away just as her business was getting off the ground. This unfortunate circumstance was made more so because nobody really knew how to step in and take over. Every business has trade secrets and unique ways of doing things. But how you share those amongst your team can mean the difference between success and failure. These secrets are just as important when you’re alive and keeping things humming along.
Another friend of mine reminded me of different example of this when I brought up this week’s topic. Like so many Californians, this individual is now practicing a gluten-free lifestyle (I saw you roll your eyes). One of her favorite spots was a local pizza joint that actually had gluten-free pizza dough but apparently only certain people knew about.
This individual called the pizza place knowing she had the inside track to a gluten-free pizza but the staff on hand knew nothing about it. Fortunately this lady also knew the owners who then called the staff and told them how to achieve gluten-free dough joy.
How do you enroll your team in the aspect of your business that will make them more effective messengers in what you have to say? When you have specials or promotions is there some methodology that you use to notify the staff? For example, internal memos, regular meetings or even a private Facebook group.
Wait, what? Did I just encourage you to use a private Facebook Group for your business? Yes. While using Facebook as the primary means of marketing your business can be bad and using a Group to promote your business is really bad, you can use Facebook Groups to manage communication among a specific group of individuals such as employees with great success.
A Group also has the advantage of being searchable by its members. So those whom you invite to the group can actually search for things such as the ingredients in the day’s specials, tips on challenging complaints and that sort of thing. Another advantage is that your business Page can now create and manage groups so you could have a secret/private group created by your businesses Facebook Page specifically for employees and none of the customers would even know.
Perhaps you’re already ahead of this - I wouldn’t even know!
When we had the resort one of the highlights of that place was a book we put together called the “Idiots Guide to Running the Featherbed Railroad.” This binder had tabs for all sorts of different occurrences from running the credit card machine and reservations system to how to prepare certain menu items. There was a cleaning guide that came from our experience with taking out specific kinds of spots and even a ‘what if’ in the event that the spot was not removable and the customer suddenly found themselves owning a spotted bed sheet. Yes, that happened with more frequency than you’d think.
Often times staff would ask us questions about things that we knew was in this binder so we would ask them to go look it up themselves. Now I remember asking my parents questions whose answers were in the dictionary or encyclopedia and they insisting that I do my own research in those publications. It probably irritated our staff as much as I was irritated with that answer when I was a lad but it did reinforce the value of that binder.
Of course, today I just use Google and Youtube to answer the world’s questions.
My wife is on the board of a local theater company and she’s been a strong advocate of using shared tools to create a legacy resource for incoming board members. The theater company now uses a Facebook Group for each specific performance so that cast and crew can be on the same page with things. They also use Google Docs for all the things a board is supposed to keep, such as meeting notes, bylaws, forms and more.
In fact, you can even see how they implement Google Docs in their board of directors meetings which are shared on a website I designed and built using SquareSpace. You can see an example under their “More” tab of this. The Board can edit the notes but the public can just read them and all this functionality comes at no cost to the theater company.
Whatever field you’re in, having searchable points of reference for your team is a great way to make them look smarter and better informed which makes your business look smarter and better informed. Today with tools like Facebook Groups, Google Docs (for sharing documents, spreadsheets and more) you can transfer the knowledge of yourself to your team. Even when you’re the picture of health.