Monthly Archives :

June 2021

Free (or Nearly Free) Training for Your Employees

150 150 Pat Monacelli

by Christina R. Metcalf

Brownie Wise (the saleswoman behind the success of Tupperware) said, “If you want to build a business, build the people.” This is incredibly important but now more than ever. With the hiring shortage going on, you must do something to make your business stand out and helping potential employees understand they can have a career with you (or at least feel valued while they are there) can be the difference between going with you or deciding to work elsewhere.

But how do you “build the people”? Training can be costly and who has the time or money for that? Believe it or not, there are a lot of free resources out there. Here are just a few:

7 Avenues for Free (or almost free) Training for Employees

To the best of our knowledge, each of these options is free. However, there may be a minimal cost with some specialized trainings.

If you want to check out a subscription course offering, there’s LinkedIn Learning. After your free month trial, there’s a $19.95 per month fee for unlimited access to their courses. Courses include advanced work on popular software like Office and Google as well as technical things like learning coding languages such as Python.

Assuming you want free (or nearly so), here’s a great list of options:

The Broomfield Chamber 
If you belong to the Broomfield Chamber, your member benefits extend to your employees. The chamber offers webinars, educational seminars, meet and greets, and lunch and learns. You can (and should) encourage your employees to attend these free or very low-cost ways to learn and get to know others in the community.

SBA and other Business Groups
The Small Business Association and other local business groups offer free training periodically. Sign up for their newsletters or check out their website to see what webinars are available. SBA also has free business counseling for you if you’re a small business owner. You can also check out the North Metro Denver Small Business Development Center.

YouTube
You may assume that the courses on YouTube would be conducted by fame-seeking teenagers but that’s simply not the case. There are a lot of good resources available on this channel. You could create a playlist of videos and share it with your marketing team/person, for instance.

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
You probably knew by now that MIT offers free online classes but what you may not have realized is that it’s not all science related. They have plenty of business courses too. Check out the ones on entrepreneurship.

University of California has some solid offerings as well. Also, check out Open University for even more.

TedTalks
You might be surprised the kind of things you can learn in a TedTalk. While they may not teach direct skills, they teach ways to think and reframe problems that can be advantageous in a lot of roles. Your employees may also learn stronger empathy through watching a few of these.

Niche Sources
Make a list of what you’d like your employees to learn and then set them free to find no-cost instruction. For instance, there’s a course on supply chain management, corporate finance, and digital marketing. Some even come with certifications.

Ahrefs Academy
Lots of great courses here including SEO for Beginners (who couldn’t use that?) and several marketing courses. Good information that every business can use.

There are plenty of free training options out there for your staff. The difficulty is in giving them the time for professional development. Offering the courses won’t do you any good if they don’t take them, so make sure you communicate that this is an important part of your business. Your best employees will appreciate the challenge and the additional training. And best of all, it won’t cost you a thing!

New in Town? Tips to Help Your New Business (and you) Fit In.

150 150 Pat Monacelli

 

by Christina R. Metcalf

Starting a new business can be challenging, but it can be even more difficult if you are new to the community. In some areas being the “new business (or business owner) on the block” is a designation that doesn’t last long (in large cities with transient populations, for instance), the smaller, tighter-knit communities can feel like it takes forever to become part of the “in-crowd.”

As we reopen after COVID, many people are reevaluating where they live. Communities that didn’t have the jobs to support newcomers en masse are now seeing an influx of people who want to live where they vacation, or they want to get away from it all. Because of this, fitting in might start getting a whole lot easier.

But until it does, here are a few tips that can make you successful in your new community quickly.

How to Ensure You and Your Business Fit In

These days there’s a lot of talk about accepting everyone for who they are. But when most of the people in your new area have spent their lives together, starting a new business in these places can feel like you’re the new kid at the lunch table in middle school. It’s not that they aren’t welcoming and friendly, they just don’t know you like they know everyone else. It takes time. And no one has time for that. Here are a few tips to help you speed up the process.

Host an Event
People are interested in getting out these days. Host an open house or a class. Demonstrate your products or services. Invite people to attend for free to get to know you. If your business is virtual, find somewhere you can host in person. You want people to get to know you and that’s much easier when no one has to worry about buffering.

In the future, there may be a revenue stream for classes or other events for your business. Start building your email list with this event.

Check Out the Farmer’s Market
If your business is a good fit for a farmer’s market, craft bazaar, or artisan fair, ask around to find out if that exists in your community. If not, you might be able to work with an organization with a large parking lot to help bring one to your community.

These types of events bring browsers out. You may or may not make large sales but what you will have the opportunity to do is make conversation with attendees. Come out from behind your booth. Give away samples. Talk to everyone and give something away so they have your contact information in the future.

Join your Facebook Group
Do a quick search in Facebook. Find out if your area has a Facebook group. Many have multiple ones. Get to know the administrators of the group and ask when (or if) businesses are allowed to post. The Broomfield Chamber has a Facebook group called “Broomfield-Area Business Strong.”

Post when you are allowed to but make sure you also take the time to “share the sunshine.” Answer questions people are asking. Provide reviews of businesses you’ve patronized and loved. Become part of the community. The more people see you, the more often they will think about you.

Sponsor Something
Even if you are in a tiny town, there are sponsorship opportunities for you. From Little League to the PTA, band boosters to pet rehoming events, get out there and support the community. People notice. Stay in front of them. Be visible. Give back.

If you don’t have the funds to sponsor right now, volunteer some of your time and wear a branded t-shirt for your business.

Join the Chamber
Joining the chamber is always a solid move because unlike other membership organizations, the chamber is business focused. Members will naturally take an interest in the new business in town.

Even if you’re virtual, chambers can help introduce you to your neighbors, community leaders, and a network of people you might not meet as quickly from behind your computer screen.

If you’re new to town, it’s only a matter of time before people realize how wonderful you and your business are. However, most of us don’t have time to spend waiting on people to realize these things. You need the revenue now so get out there. Introduce yourself and give back to your new hometown. People will take notice and they’ll be happy to have you.

3 Ways To Stand Out When Everyone Else Is Trying To Do The Same

150 150 Pat Monacelli

 

by Christina R. Metcalf

There can be a desperation that you feel on social media. Many businesses are creating content that demands “look at me.” But while some may believe that “shouting” into social media is the way to get attention, it rarely is. Usually, all that accomplishes is someone ignoring you the way a stranger might sidestep a toddler having a tantrum in a grocery store.

Yes, tantrums get attention but not the kind you want in order to get customers to buy from you. Instead, you want a more subtle approach. Here are several ways you can get attention for you and your business that have nothing to do with shouting or demanding it.

Show How You Help
Sure, telling people how you can help them is very important. But you should also incorporate some showing, not just telling. For example, Amazon created a holiday commercial that features a young girl working on her ballet routine. She works hard in every spot imaginable. She eats, lives and breathes ballet. As she prepares for the big recital, she receives notification that it’s been cancelled. She’s despondent until her family creates a homemade recital for her on their apartment’s roof. Neighbors watch the girl perform lit solely by flashlights ordered from—you guessed it—the mega retailer. She finishes the dance in a beautiful moment and the words, “The show must go on” come across the screen with a well-placed logo. This commercial only features a fleeting glimpse of the brand and never talks about it in any way. But it shows exactly how Amazon can help and they do so with story. Which brings us to…

Tell a Story
Everyone claims to be the best, most efficient, best priced, etc. But all those superlative claims can get lost on social media since everyone is saying the same thing. Have you ever once heard a business claim to have adequate customer service?

Of course not!

It’s always the best. They put the customer first.

But if everyone claims to do that, how does the customer figure out who really is the best? They don’t. They ignore those claims and look at something else like reviews.

But what is the one thing about you that is different?

It’s your story.

No one has the same story that you do. You are unique in that way. And no one has the same customer stories that you do. You can differentiate yourself from the other businesses by getting personal and telling your story of what motivates you and how you help your customers.

Again, telling your story is not you writing sentences about how you got into your business. That’s only part of it. Think about that Amazon commercial. Amazon told a brilliant story about how they are there for people when others aren’t (the show must go on) but they never said those words. They implied it through story.

Tell about your customers’ struggles and how you fit in to help them be their best selves. You needn’t say the words “we helped them.” But you must show how you did.

Fail Big
Is there some problem that plagues your business or industry? Something that everyone dismisses with a “well, it is what it is”?

If so, fix it.

If you do, you’ll be a hero. If you don’t, you’ll fail. But you’ll fail big because you took on something no one else has. They’ll talk about your efforts. Car dealerships did this when the first one went to “no-haggle” pricing or Carvana went to selling cars sight unseen through a virtual vending machine.

JCPenney’s tried to provide a good value environment by lowering its everyday prices and doing away with sales and coupons. It tried to give consumers an inexpensive buying experience whenever they wanted it, not just during sales.

It turns out, people love sales and coupons and Penney’s failed. But they failed big and they got a lot of press and people talking about them. Ultimately, it wasn’t enough, but you have to admire their gumption.

If you want to stand out from the crowd, you have to play up your uniqueness. Do this through story and sharing your life with your audience. Don’t be afraid to fail. Through it, you’ll learn something about you and your audience.

Dealing With Angry Customers When You’re Short Staffed

150 150 Pat Monacelli

by Christina R. Metcalf

The scene is a common one these days. Lines of people waiting to pay in a restaurant, retail establishment, or grocery store. Tempers flare. Customers yell at staff and wonder why there’s only one person checking people out. Your staff thinks, “Who needs this?” and they’re not wrong. They feel overworked and underappreciated. Customers are demanding and loud. Customers vow not to return. It makes for a bad situation for everyone.

So what can you do to ensure it doesn’t happen in your business?

Dealing with angry people during a staffing shortage is not easy, especially since one problem creates the other. People are angry because they have to wait. People have to wait because you are short staffed. No one wants to work in an environment filled with angry people.

Here are some things you can do to diffuse the situation.

How to Deal with Angry Customers When You’re Short Staffed

Put People Where They’re Needed
As a manager or owner, when you are short-staffed you will always be assessing what needs to be done and who is around to do it. Make sure you have people in the most critical customer-facing spots and pull them from other areas as needed, even if only for a few minutes.

Ensure your employees feel empowered to help one another with overflow. If they are on rack duty, for instance, in your retail establishment make sure they know you appreciate them helping out at the cash register when a line forms. This means you will need to take the time to cross-train everyone and make sure they are comfortable working in all areas of the store/business where appropriate.

Stress That Everyone’s a Manager
Often when people are disgruntled, they will demand to see a manager. While there are some decisions that only a manager can make, help your employees feel confident enough to take the reins in these situations and insist that they are decision makers. They can reiterate that the manager issued the protocols they are following.

When they call you every time a manager is needed, the customer quickly learns the person they are dealing with is a low person on the staff chart and no longer feels the need to listen to them. You are also rewarding bad behavior done against your staff.

Achieving this level of confidence in your employees means you have trained them to make decisions and they know what freedoms they have to assist your customers. Help them understand what rules may be broken or stretched and which ones are absolutes.

Explain the Situation
While you never want to apologize for something that hasn’t happened yet, it is a good idea to remind everyone that you are doing your best. In fact, you may even want to add a “be kind message” to your help wanted posters. Explain that if they want things to be processed quicker, you would love additional help. Using a little humor can go a long way to diffuse difficult situations.

Play Good Music
If you have the right staff and it fits your business, try playing some good tunes; the type of music that gets people moving. Encourage your staff to sing or invite others to burst out into song or dance. This may sound goofy but it’s hard to be in a bad mood when the song “Walking on Sunshine” comes on the radio.

Speaking of sounds…

Soothe Them with Voice
The human voice can affect mood. A whiny voice can put customers on edge while a loud voice can make them feel more combative. With a confident, soothing voice you can make people feel understood and less prone to anger.

This hiring crisis is a challenging time for managers, staff, and owners. Just when everyone wants to get out and enjoy life again, their favorite businesses are struggling to hire. Some have had to shut down because they don’t have enough employees to operate. These tips will help you calm tempers until things can return to normal employment.

5 Creative Ways to Find Employees Post-Pandemic

150 150 Pat Monacelli

by Christina R. Metcalf

Let’s face it. You can’t throw a rock these days without hitting a help wanted sign. If someone wants to work, there is little stopping them on the employer side. (There may be things like childcare or scheduling on the employee’s side but that’s another article.)

If you’re running ads along with all the other employers out there, you’re at the mercy of their budgets—and if they have a larger one than you—they may be able to get their wanted ads in more effective places more often. A sign in your place of business can also be effective but only if the right person passes your place. To stand out in this employee’s market, you need to get creative.

5 Creative Ways to Find Employees

Host an Event
Host an event at your place of business around something other than hiring. For instance, if you’re an art studio, host an event around a new artist or a workshop on a painting technique. While people are having fun, enjoying your business and getting to know your staff, let them know what positions you have open. This approach allows you to lead with the culture of your company, which can be a big seller.

Join the Chamber (and participate)
Joining the chamber will allow you to meet a lot of new people but that is only the beginning. Yes, you can share the type of employee you’re looking for and the chamber pros may know someone who’s perfect for you. But don’t stop there. That’s what everyone is doing. Instead, get involved. Volunteer, participate, make your own introductions to uncover who is looking for what. The chamber audience is business-minded and working. But don’t just hard recruit. Look to be of service and people will want to help you too.

Sponsor a Team or PTA
Get plugged into your local children’s sports program and sponsor a team or work with the PTA at a school in your area. Mention to these entities that you are hiring. Your PTA may have a newsletter you could advertise in or may put you on their website. Sports teams may allow you to hang a banner at their sports complex.

Empower Your Employees
No one wants you to fill those positions more than your overworked team so give them an additional incentive to get the word out to friends and family. As a bonus, you are less likely to be ghosted by someone who has a connection to your business.

Turn to Facebook
There are local groups on Facebook. Run a search and see what comes up in your area then ask to join them. Each group has rules about posting for businesses but if you’re trying to help with a job and not selling, you likely can post when you want to. These groups are comprised of people who live in the area and those who are interested in moving. Keep this in mind when you post.

Hiring is one of the most difficult challenges facing businesses today. It’s not enough to simply tell people that you’re hiring and what the position pays. For people to want to come to work for you, you need to show them what’s in it for them. Why will they enjoy working for you? What makes your business better than others? Use these creative approaches to find job candidates and then show them why your business is where they want to be.