How to develop an effective communication strategy Featured

8:01pm EDT June 30, 2012
How to develop an effective communication strategy

If everyone in your organization was as invested in and knowledgeable about your company’s strategies as you are, your team would be unstoppable, right?

But how do you get everyone from the vice president of sales to the front-line worker to embrace that concept? I would argue that a targeted communication strategy can help get you there.

Tailor your message

Know your audience. Be concise and talk about issues that matter most to that particular group.

For example, in the Moe’s business, our general managers don’t care how many franchise deals we’ve sold, although it’s important to us. And our investors don’t care about our quarterly promotions, although those are important to us also.

Why does your audience care about what you have to say, and what is the one thing you hope they walk away remembering?

Consider the mode

Some people like to learn by doing. Others like to learn by listening. When communicating, know what your audience prefers, and present accordingly.

For example, general managers work in a fast-paced environment and are on their feet all day. It’s difficult for them to sit still and watch a PowerPoint for hours, whereas the VP of sales is used to that style.

At Moe’s, we do annual regional meetings were we pay for our general managers to attend. We try to make this meeting interactive with roundtables, panels and frequent breaks to keep our audience’s attention.

The timeliness of the message and the workflow of the audience can help you determine the appropriate vehicle. We know our managers and crew members are working in the restaurant all day, so if we send an e-mail at noon, they most likely will not read it until late that night. So if it’s something that can’t wait, perhaps a phone call or text message would make more sense.

Determine the frequency

In order to cover all of our bases, we communicate with franchise partners and general managers weekly via e-mail, quarterly via a newsletter, annually via regional meetings and biannually via a worldwide conference. Clearly, we know it’s important for this group to be hearing from us constantly and in various formats.

I meet with my management team monthly because it’s important that group understand what is going on with all departments so they can report back to their teams. Our stakeholders hear from us quarterly because they are most interested in financial data and trends.

It’s important to develop a communication strategy in advance to ensure wide attendance and rich content. Let people mark their calendars a year in advance if possible to reiterate the importance of the meeting.

Remember when communicating to articulate your message in a way that is most appropriate for your audience. Just because you prefer a certain form of communication does not mean your audience feels the same.

Lastly, always measure your success. Our conferences and regional meetings are always followed by a survey soliciting feedback so we can learn how to be better. We also do an annual associate and franchise partner satisfaction survey to find areas of opportunity. <<

Paul Damico is president of Atlanta-based Moe’s Southwest Grill, a fast-casual restaurant franchise with more than 430 locations nationwide. Damico has been a leader in the food service industry for more than 20 years with companies such as SSP America, FoodBrand LLC and Host Marriott. He can be reached at pdamico@moes.