Internal communications should be part of your marketing plan. When business owners think of a marketing plan, they often think about external communications…things their customers and potential customers see. Businesses communicate with their customers in many ways but in general when I refer to external communications I’m talking about things like social media, email, websites, etc. When there is a change business owners almost always remember external communications but the internal communication part tends to be a low priority.
What is internal communication?
Before we talk about HOW to do it, let’s talk about what it is! Internal communications consist of information that ONLY people within your business see. Unlike external communications, internal communications don’t have to be AS formal but you should consider the subject matter when determining how formal you need to be.
You should create internal communications for:
- Policy changes.
- Procedure changes.
- New responsibilities.
- New products.
- New services.
If you don’t have an Employee Handbook, you should! Anytime there is a policy change, you should write up an individual handout on it and have your team members read it. At a staff meeting, go over the policy change and ask each employee to sign a copy of the handout. Keep the signed copy on file.
In addition to your Employee Handbook, you should have a procedure manual. A procedure manual would cover things that happen on a day to day basis and map out how you’d like your team to handle them. This could be anything from opening and closing procedures to how they should request you re-order supplies. As I mentioned above, if there is a change, document it, have them read and sign a copy to keep in their records.
Each team member you have should have a job description that details what you expect of them. This could also be in the form of an employment contract if you do those. Either way, it needs to be written down and clearly communicated what you expect of each person you employ. If there are changes, follow the same steps as I noted in the last two sections.
You may be feeling like these suggestions are a little too formal for your business. I understand, and it might feel that way especially if you’re a smaller operation, but in the event of an issue, you have documentation that your team member was aware of the change and knew the expectations. If things ever escalated and you found yourself having to defend your decision to terminate someone, having a paper trail of signed documents will come in handy.
New Products and Services
When you bring on a new product or begin offering a new service, I just you communicate it’s features, benefits and costs with your ENTIRE team, even if they aren’t providing the service. They can be great sales people for you if they are knowledgeable about what’s new. Many reps will have these things already created for you in the form of product knowledge handouts or service literature so be sure to ask and save yourself the time of creating one. Once you have it, be sure to set aside time to talk with your team about it and answer questions so they are well equipped to handle inquiries from clients.
How is this marketing related?
While all of these things are not typical marketing activities, internal communications are important part of your marketing plan. Your team needs to know what is expected of them from how they are greeting guests to how they are talking about the services you offer. If you have a team member that is not delivering a high quality experience to clients, or one that has no idea what they are talking about when a client starts asking questions, that impacts you, your business and your bottom line. Make internal communications a priority. Have regular staff meetings, even if it’s just you and one other team member. Create an agenda and come prepared with specific things to cover. Then, allow your team to ask questions! Hearing directly from you is an important part of the process and if it’s a change in policy, procedure or their responsibilities be sure to write out it out, have them sign it and keep it on file…just in case.
If you need help working on your employee communications, contact me!