Are you the Quarterback of your team?

By Dave Ostrander

Yesterday I had the opportunity to present another marketing seminar. My audience was 85 percent pizza operators and 15 percent pizza wannabes. I was describing some of my guerilla tactics that have added six figure boosts to sales, but I wasn't getting a breakthrough until an owner of three pizza shops asked me, "How do you get your staff to get behind your promotions?" The entire room leaned forward and I shifted gears and focused on that question for the remainder of the hour.

We described a scenario and I facilitated the solutions to a marketing problem. As it turned out, there was one common issue on everybody's mind: How do I build or re-build my staff so they care? One of the audience members said, "The labor crisis is so severe that I'm forced to hire warm bodies just to stay open."

This problem, affecting operators from coast to coast, needs to be addressed. After all is said and done, people buy pizza from people. Behaviors that are rewarded are repeated.

Marketing without service is fatal. It all boils down to attitude. The messages that I grew up with are very different than those messages my children are receiving. Our employees are inundated with messages of disrespect and it is normal to take the easy way out.

I was listening to a radio station on the drive back home yesterday and the DJ said, "If your boss won't let you listen to this station at work...quit!" Very cute. Very destructive.

We can get around this problem and turn your crew into a Marketing Machine. If we identify and break down the challenges into small tasks, we will succeed.

The first and foremost task is to hire the right people. You are probably discouraged by the quality of applicants lately. With unemployment at an all time low it is a reality we are going to have to get used to.

Your dream crew is all around you. Unfortunately, they don't work for you.

How can you change that? I allow my crew members to refer new hires to me and reward them financially if the new hire works out. I give business cards to people who impress me with service. On the back, I jot them a note that asks them to contact me if they ever want to make a career change.

Have you ever seen a poster or cartoon that says, "Everybody around here comes alive at quitting time?" Or, "The firings will continue until morale improves." These cuties are sending a message that is destructive to your staff and rubs off on your customers.

I prefer that everybody comes alive at his or her shift starting time and the praise will continue until morale is so high it is contagious.

I used to be a football player in my younger years. The huddle was dynamic. Eleven teammates came together, head to head, shoulder to shoulder, and got their assignments in ten seconds flat. Feedback was instant. You always knew the score.

Are you the Quarterback of your team? Do you ever go into a huddle? A real huddle, up close and personal, complete eye contact and total concentration by every team member.

Before every shift change, I urge you to have a five-minute debriefing with all of your staff discussing what is going to happen on their shift.

In this relatively short period of time, you can download everything on your mind that pertains to operations, customer service, policy and marketing. You can tell them exactly what you want them to do and how and when you want it done. This is a wonderful time to praise performance because it is public and in the midst of their peers.

You can surprise them with a contest. Any crew member that suggestively sells at least seven orders of bread sticks will be in the drawing for the mega super prize that will be given away next week, etc.

Regularly scheduled staff meetings are next to impossible to schedule. Balancing day and night shifts, full and part time as well as student and jocks is a challenge.

I only schedule one voluntary mandatory general staff meeting a month. It is held on the first Saturday of every month at 10:00 a.m. It lasts exactly one hour and the staff is paid for it. Even I can't make every one of them due to my consulting travel schedule.

These meetings are essential for communicating the big picture but the daily huddle is magic. The frequency of crew mini-meetings is the secret.

The leader of the huddle-quarterback, manager, shift leader or owner has only one prime objective: To motivate his or her crew in a positive way for the next shift. The leader simply has to plan ahead on what's important that day. This method works especially well for short attention span crews.

Just think how much information you could pass on to your staff in five uninterrupted minutes.

You'll get everything off your chest, give the marching orders for the day, assign your aces in their places, review customer satisfaction and current marketing ideas in short order. Those of you in New York can probably do it in three minutes.

The bottom line of all marketing is delivering the goods to your guests and exceeding their expectations. This function of marketing is performed by your staff. Their preconceived ideas of service are probably different from yours.

They will become a Marketing Machine if they are constantly trained and rewarded when they do well. They will follow the example of management.


back to articles