There are no sick days for new small business owners. As I lay in bed trying not to drown in my own mucus and having lost my voice, I answer emails and texts. The saving grace? My staff. The most difficult part of taking your dream and watching it grow is letting it go into the care of other people. It's no different than having children. You thrust them into the world and put them in the hands of others hoping they would be cared for like you would take care of them.
The first thing we talk about at the interview and every team meeting after is our brand. Who are we? What do we stand for? Yes, we sell cookies. Anyone can sell cookies. We sell the experience of coming in and experiencing the quirkiness that is T-Rex Cookie & Coffee Cafe. The moment someone walks in the door they should FEEL the brand. Welcome people, provide great service, and if they aren't happy, try to make it right. In this day and age where social media can raise a business up, it can bring it to it's knees. Those reviews, good or bad, true or false will impact the business. I encourage my staff to read all of our reviews from Google to Facebook, Groupon to Yelp. They give me and them a perspective we would have never seen 10 years ago. Be the brand, manage the brand.
The second thing we talk about is consistency. Once you experience the brand and come back again. You should have the same great experience you had the first time. Be it with our product or our service. You should know what to expect the second, third, fourth time with us. My current team knows this and executes it to their very best ability. One thing to know is that to do these things takes a lot of energy. Some days we get tired and sometimes we don't deliver. That is when I've seen my team come together to fix it. Of course there are those customers who live their lives in an unhappy pile all the time and there's nothing we can do. To them we have to say we tried and move on.
The final thing I focus on with my team is transparency. They should know the goings on of the shop. I believe the more you teach and share with the staff the more hey become more invested in the company. I spoke to my team not too long ago and said we needed to increase our wholesale accounts to improve cash flow. Immediately they came up with a number of great potential partners and we even signed new ones on. If the team members can help be part of the solution they become vested in the success of the company.
So as I lay here wallowing in my fever and mucus filled lungs, I think about my staff. You know you have a good team when you can turn off the phone and shut the laptop and take nap with the hopes this awful cold would go away. When you are a small business owner and you invest your staff, they become your umbrella. Even though you are under the weather they are there for you to keep the rain, sun, snow, hail and irate customers off your head.