To give you an idea of what was going on, the older family members were not in favor to use social media outlets, whereas the younger folks were imposing their idea to digitalize their business operations in order to drive awareness of the new location and to increase sales. For the past 10 years they had been dealing with this internal disagreement, which caused a negative impact on multiple fronts. The recession was a big part of the issue, as it forced them to move and to reinvent their business operations in order to survive. Sometimes it is difficult to focus on what’s best when our immediate reality is going through a spiral of negativity and debt.
When I first met them last December it was hard to tell if they were going to be able to recover. Doing things differently is tough for everyone, let alone if we try to modify dynamics that have existed for over 30 years. I could only guide them through opportunities. I could open doors to paths that bring solutions to their conflicts; but ultimately, it’s my client’s decision to choose to cross that threshold, trusting something better is waiting for them on the other side.
In December, we analyzed their current situation; we explored various systemic organizational exercises, which gave us a good idea on how to move forward. Because these exercises are experiential, participants got to see and feel the myriad dynamics at work. Then, we created a board of trustees with non-family members from different industries — a lawyer, a business coach, a banker, an accountant, a digital intelligence expert and an IT— to create a broad foundation of support. This allowed us to balance the weight of knowledge and decision making to ease their stress and anxiety. Next, we focused on their branding, restaurant location, layout and employee situation. Subsequently, we launched a cost-efficient program to proactively listen to employees, current clients and the target audience. When in doubt about some issue, sometimes it is best to ask a core group of clients for feedback. Occasionally, it is more effective to listen to your customers in order to solve internal disagreements.
We called the program, “Your Opinion Matters.” We set up regular meetings with core employees. We also built a Facebook page and a basic responsive e-commerce website where the menu is displayed along with pictures of dishes, customers’ reviews, promotional videos and a little e-store, where products from the owners’ country of origin are sold. Moreover, we expanded their online presence to multiple social media platforms such as Yelp, Menupages, Seamless, Grubhub, OpenTable, Foursquare and many others to allow easy access to their offerings.
The cross-platform and multidimensional approach has generated a threefold increase of sales. For this reason, I decided to honor their effort by sharing their story with all of you. Here are some actions we have installed to measure the results achieved and to maintain a positive momentum:
- Creating a two-way communication funnel with customers on social media platforms. Strategically choosing which online platforms fit best with their business model.
- Tracking cross-platform efforts on specific hashtags to listen to their targeted audience using Hootsuite, Tagboard, Twitter analytics, Google Analytics, bit.ly, Facebook Analytics, Union Metrics and few other free sources.
- Developing "client advisory boards” that enlist in-person and e-mail surveys to keep the business focused on what customers want.
- Creating a solid structure with a clear hierarchy. The business dynamic is often different from the family dynamic. Thus, we established a clear chain of command and well-defined job descriptions for every employee in order to avoid confusion and keep things running smoothly.
- Maximizing employee skills to accommodate new technologies within the existing staff. Train those who are on the front line to use online communications to humanize the business online footprint on their spare time by taking pictures of the dishes, asking customers to write reviews, behaving as “community managers” providing online customer service, sharing promotions on different digital platforms and so on.
- Setting up healthy communication. Schedule regular meetings to ensure central players in the business are properly informed and have an opportunity to share results, voice concerns and offer suggestions.
This month we celebrate Women in Business Heritage. Hope to inspire all of our entrepreneur female readers to find the strength to work on their businesses and professional endeavors. The above solutions made a BIG difference in my clients’ business. Now everyone is happily adapting to their well-deserved success. If you are passionate about creating a positive impact on society, then “giving up” never needs to be the option you choose.