Biz Tips: Your People Define Your Brand Experience

Biz Tips: Your People Define Your Brand Experience


Your People Define Your Brand Experience

The team at your restaurant or any service driven business is the key to your success.

It seems so obvious but still overlooked that the most valuable resource any business has is its people.

You can build an amazing idea, or product, or physical space, but it’s the people that execute the idea, build the product and create the experience.

Yet time and time again it’s obvious that we under invest in our people.

I understand that labor is one of the hardest costs to control to keep our business profitable. But think of all the money you spend building a business. If you don’t take the final step and invest in your people, you’ve wasted your time and money.

And I’m not talking about the obvious costs that you are measuring like recruiting, training, paperwork, and lost efficiency. I’m talking about the costs that no one quantifies around how your brand image suffers.

Your brand image suffers when you lose a great employee who you didn’t reward.

Your brand image suffers when you hired an employee that you knew wouldn’t stay for more than a few months.

Your brand image suffers when you refuse to increase your base wages or salaries to seek out skilled employees.

I’d like to offer a new perspective. If you value your brand image, customer service can no longer be an unskilled entry level job.

Don’t worry about kids trying to find there first jobs. They can still find work at the back of the house in roles that aren’t customer facing. How about those bathrooms that you know you should be cleaning more often!

The first person your customer encounters shouldn’t be a first-time employee who’s never worked with people. Would you have your teenage children take the lead at a business meeting? Or give an interview with the local media? Maybe if they’ve been coached on what to say, but really you’d hovering over them waiting to jump in if they needed help.

Yes, you can build an amazing training program. That’s step 1 for a lot of companies. But then you need to be selective in filling that program with team members that will be around more than a year. And that’s the point isn’t it.

To find a person that wants to stay more than a year, you need to build a job that’s worth staying at for more than a year.

Let’s validate why this is important with a fun fact. According to, “In 2016, the overall turnover rate in the restaurant sector was about 73%.”

Yes, we need to keep people around.

So how do you build a job worth staying at?

  1. More than competitive wages upfront.
  2. A clearly defined career path and education program.
  3. Incentives to grow with the company.
  4. The opportunity to take on responsibilities beyond the immediate job.

More than competitive wages

It’s right in front of our noses.

The companies that invest in their employees and pay them competitive wages are doing better than those that don’t.

Even in the competitive QSR space where margins are thin, companies like Chic-Fil-a and In-N-Out have invested more in their employees and are seeing much better average unit volumes than the competition. This is not just because turnover cost is lower. These companies realize that people are the face of their business and their brand image is bolstered because of it.

Career path and education

Your employee training program should lay out clear timelines around what each person will be learning and when along with how long they should expect to be in their current role. I’m sure they’d also want to know what the next promotion looks like and how they will grow their skills beyond the job. You should expect that they won’t want to work for you forever.

If you know that you can keep a good employee for 3–5 years, then you should be thinking about how to provide them skills that will be marketable to new jobs when that time is up.

Why would you do that? Because if they know that you are a great stepping stone to future success, they’ll be happy to work for you for longer than a year. And the time you put in to training them will pay off in the quality service your customers will be receiving.

Incentives to grow with the company

Reverse engineer your ideal employees to figure out what incentives are worth providing. Maybe it’s education reimbursement. Maybe it’s flexibility with their schedules. Maybe it’s bonuses they can count on when they cover heavy shifts or when you have a last minute request. And not to go to far down the rabbit hole, but what if they worked at a company they were actually proud to put on a resume.

You need to prove that your company is a resume builder, not a pit stop at a tough time in someone’s life.

Taking on responsibilities beyond the immediate job

It’s amazing how motivating a challenge can be. When you throw a new job or skill at someone to learn, they usually step up to the plate. Especially if you provide an environment where it’s okay to fail and learn, there is accessible coaching, and clear guidelines or a framework to follow. Just from a marketing perspective, you have so many people that can be contributing their daily stories to your content and brand building media. It needs to be filtered and polished, but it’s an engine that few people have figured out how to turn on.

These are just a few ways to think about keeping people around.

I’d like to get you to think bigger.

If people are the face of your business, and those faces are all unique and their personalities are so diverse, how do you make the most of it?

They will make mistakes and it won’t always be pretty, but sometimes it’s in the real rawness of people where we find the most beauty. So I encourage you…

  • Tap into your people.
  • Build a community.
  • Activate that community to engage with your customers.
  • Build real relationships.

And if those employees are truly proud of the work they are doing, the customers will feel it and be excited about their visit to your place of business.

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