One of the hardest challenges to overcome as a growing countertop shop is an open line of communication. The sales team often has a difficult time communicating with the shop and vice versa.
A lack of communication can create some serious resentment between employees. Company culture is just as important as the numbers. You want your employees to enjoy what they do, and poor communication can deflate the work environment in a snap.
As the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) uproots our normal routines, these 5 communication tools can really help your staff stay in touch.
If your countertop shop often uses texting as a main form of communication, you’re going to love Slack.
Slack is group texting on steroids. The problem with group texting is you’re often included in topics that go off the rails and no longer involve you (#timewaster!).
You also can’t have multiple conversations going on at once without everyone getting confused. Not to mention you can’t do simple work-related tasks, like sharing documents or files.
Slack is an excellent real-time chat option. These text-style conversations help you segment your communication into topics. It’s easy to have multiple discussions going on at one time, and you can go back and look at past conversations if needed.
Slack has what’s called “channels.” Channels organize your conversations into dedicated spaces so you can have multiple conversations happening at one time without anything getting lost in the mess.
Our team’s personal favorite channel? #Animalplanet. We share photos of our pets (and children) for some fun!
If your team relies heavily on email, Slack can be a huge relief. It unstuffs your inbox and lets you choose which conversations are the most important, and which ones can wait a bit.
Most importantly, Slack is excellent for keeping employees connected when they’re not in the same physical space. If some of your staff is working from home during this coronavirus outbreak, they can stay in communication with other staff members through Slack.
There’s a reason why companies like Target, Airbnb, and Shopify use Slack to keep their teams connected.
Slack is free with the upgraded plan costing $8 per active user per month. You can save a little bit if you purchase an annual plan.
There’s something to be said about using industry-specific tools, and we’d be crazy to leave out Systemize!
Systemize is countertop scheduling software that by nature, improves communication for fabrication professionals. When you use Systemize to schedule all of your jobs, everyone can see the stage of a customer’s job.
Transparency is a word often used to describe Systemize. The sales team sees where the production process is, everyone can see any ongoing communication from customers, and install/service dates are right there.
Production doesn’t let anything fall through the cracks, and communication comes naturally. Plus, everything entered is available in real-time.
It’s such a breath of fresh air when sales, fabricators, and installers are all looking at the same information.
On top of improving communication, Systemize users also report they’ve seen a substantial improvement in productivity and organization. Triple whammy!
For countertop shops that need to meet face-to-face when not everyone is physically together, a video meeting tool can come in handy.
Phone calls can do in a pinch, but seeing everyone helps improve communication, and it’s the closest thing to being together in the flesh.
Our favorite video conferencing tool is Zoom. It’s easy to use, it’s free unless you need to upgrade to a paid plan, and the connection is the best. Some video conferencing tools have terrible lagging and delays regardless of how great your internet is, but Zoom doesn’t have those issues from our experience.
If you’re having a more involved meeting, you can even share your screen.
For those countertop shops who are having some staff work from home during this COVID-19 pandemic, Zoom can help everything feel a bit more normal.
You also might consider using Zoom to communicate with customers. You can present quotes or share design ideas while being able to see your customer’s reactions face-to-face. That can be harder to gauge over the phone.
4. Google Hangouts
Google Hangouts is one of the simpler ways to stay connected with your staff. You can chat with up to 150 people or hold a video call with up to 25 people.
Just like other tools like Slack, you can start a chat on Google Hangouts from your computer and then pick it up on your phone. You can set yourself as available or away, or you can even set a custom status message, like “templating.”
This can help improve communication between your staff because they’ll always know when people are available to chat and when they’re in the middle of something.
If you use Systemize, they’ll also know this as they can quickly glance at the day’s schedule.
Countertop shops who already use Gmail, Google Calendar, or Google Suite will find Google Hangouts Chat to be an easy addition as it’s deeply integrated. You can do all your work in one place, including communication. It’s also free.
Blink is a communication tool specifically for the deskless workforce. In-office staff can communicate with the fabrication team easily from their personal devices.
This “ultimate employee app” allows you to post company announcements, create a personal list of tasks for the day, and interact directly with other employees. You can also utilize the “Teams” feature to help employees work with each other.
Blink has a user-friendly design that’s fun to use. What we like about this option is that it keeps everyone on the same page – even those who aren’t in front of a computer all day.
Blink says they feel all frontline workers will benefit – as will your company – because employees who feel they have a voice will work harder.
If you have a large countertop shop operation, you can even use the realtime polls feature to get feedback from your employees about important topics. Plus, if you’re the owner of your countertop shop, you’ll appreciate that Blink reduces time spent on non-core tasks by up to 90%.
Blink costs $3.40 per person, per month.
What Tools Do You Use to Improve Communication In Your Countertop Shop?
We’d love to hear from you – what tools do you use, if any, to keep your countertop shop crew connected? Have you made any changes to your regular communication style since the COVID-19 pandemic began?
Leave your recommendations in the comment section below. And if you aren’t yet a Systemize user, we believe you’re seriously missing out on major communication and efficiency benefits.
Schedule a free demo below.