Like in most businesses communication is a critical component to reducing errors and increasing productivity. The pet care business is no different, communication is extremely important for maintaining a safe and well-run facility. While most managers know that communication is important, are they instilling that in their crews, and are they providing their crews with tools to better communicate? More times than not, the answer is no! That is why we have tried to incorporate quality and efficient communication into our culture. Here are a few methods we use to better communicate with our crews.
Efficient Communication -Communicating well does not mean you have to do a lot of talking. Often, managers or crew think they communicate well because they talk a lot to their fellow crew members, but in reality, they are not getting to the point of the matter. Think of air traffic controllers, when it comes to getting critical information to the right people efficiently, and without “fluff”, these guys are the kings. Learn to communicate effectively.
How The Ark does it -We have conversations with our crew about what information is needed for them to complete a certain task. Once those pieces of information are agreed upon by the entire crew we try to only give that critical information during communication. Before you go to anyone, whether it is a manager going to a receptionist, or a receptionist going to the owner, think about what information they need to either complete a task or give you a decision. Perhaps, it is as simple as who, what, when, where, why. You and your crew can make this up however you please but stick with the system of communicating critical information efficiently.
Daily “Micro Meetings” -One thing that can drive anyone crazy is a drawn out, unproductive meeting. We have all left meetings with nothing more than a headache and a craving for a cup of coffee to stay awake the rest of the day. Major fortune 500 companies, like Google, are moving more and more to running micro meetings. Micro meetings last between 5 and 15 minutes and are very concise.
How The Ark does it -The Ark runs daily micro meetings. To make micro meetings work you need to implement “efficient communication”. Everyone involved in the meeting needs to know who will be the leader, who is allowed to speak, who will bring up topics, and what information is needing to be shared. To make these micro meetings work well you actually need to keep them “micro”! No more than 10-15 minutes. The meeting leader needs to watch the clock, and manage the meetings flow. The Ark crew typically has an open shift micro meeting and a mid shift change micro meeting to discuss feeding and medications schedules, troublemaker dogs, new dogs, and incidents. The Ark’s corporate and management crews also have micro meetings each morning to discuss sales, marketing, HR, operations, maintenance, and goal setting.
A Helpful Tool (Slack) -Nothing beats face to face communication, but we can’t always get face to face time with certain crew members, and sometimes just a brief message is needed. Remember “efficient communication”. After realizing the limitations of standard texting, we searched for a new tool. We were pleased to find and begin implementing Slack in 2017. The application Slack is a robust instant messaging application that allows instant communication and file sharing between different “channels” or groups. Slack.com says, “Slack brings all your team's communication together, giving everyone a shared workspace where conversations are organized and accessible.”
How The Ark does it -The Ark uses Slack on a daily basis for a wide variety of communication needs. The Ark has channels for all general managers, kennel crew/front desk crew, marketing, corporate, and even groomers. Slack ensures no one is ever further than a text away. Another benefit to having a common communication platform is accountability. The app records and files away all conversations so that anyone who missed a message can go back and check it when he or she is available to open their phone or computer. The app also integrates with Google Docs so sharing documents, advertisements, or pet photos is extremely simple.
The Ark is always trying to improve the way it communicates between crew groups and even between Ark locations. Communication can be a maker or breaker for businesses, what are you doing to improve your communication skills?
VP of Development