A Discussion About Business Communication
What is Business Communication?
Humans are naturally inclined to harness their communication skills to build relationships, achieve a goal, or deliver critical information. Communication is so habitual and commonplace that most people fail to think about it. While good communication may be a part of everyday life, it isn't something that should be taken for granted. Individuals need to fine-tune and develop effective communication to be successful.
In the restaurant industry, it's even more important to use good communication. Owners interact with a wide array of stakeholders who range from customers to vendors to back-of-the-house managers. A restaurant's internal communications, or lack thereof, can impact morale, turnover, sales, performance, and the quality of customer service. Business communication skills are the key to unlock growth and innovation opportunities.
So, how do we define business communication? According to experts, business communication is the way information is shared between two individuals that work at an organization. Its purpose is to streamline internal business activities and decrease the number of mistakes. Employees, managers, and owners utilize business communication to -
- Present new business plans
- Create proposals
- Carry out business decisions
- Reach an agreement
- Deliver and fulfill an order
- Sell food items/services to customers
- Build relationships with customers
- Hold effective meetings with team members
The Importance of Business Communication in Workplace
Many people overlook the importance of business communication. Typing a sentence or making small talk does not mean that a person knows how to communicate effectively. Many restaurant employees and managers get by with poor communication skills but fail to advance in their careers.
These individuals don't know the right questions to ask, how active listening works, or proper business writing. When employees understand all of the facets of good business communication, they gain the respect of others and identify new growth opportunities. Here are some of the other top reasons why business communication is so critical.
- Communicate Information Honestly - Honesty is the only way to resolve conflicts in the restaurant industry. This is true; even when it's painful to deliver bad news and easier to provide half-truths. Eventually, the truth of the situation will come to light. It's best to use assertive language, good eye contact, and a calm inflection to deliver bad news.
- Quickly Deliver Information - Good business communication streamlines the delivery of information and saves time. Employees can state the issue, provide recommendations, and use digital tools to share solutions. Quick communications lead to higher sales, better customer service, and fewer bottlenecks.
- Use and Read Body Language - Those with good communication skills know how to use body language to get a point across. They understand the importance of good posture, facial expressions, and inviting gestures. Good body language optimizes workplace communication and the capacity to convey important information.
- Understand an Audience - Different audiences respond to business communications differently. For example, successful restaurant managers minimize jargon when speaking to customers.
- Clarify a Message - Good communicators know exactly what they need to say before they say it. Clarified messaging helps to quickly resolve bottlenecks and minimize conflicts. It also accomplishes a greater number of tasks and streamlines restaurant operations.
- Become an Active Listener - Customers, employees, and various stakeholders like to be acknowledged and feel heard. Good communicators know how to use active listening and respond accordingly. This strengthens relationships and minimizes any miscommunications that result in errors.
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The Benefits of Business Communication
A whopping 60% of restaurant owners don't measure the performance of their internal communication strategies. While these individuals know how critical effective communication is, they don't regularly analyze their internal and external communication policies. It's no wonder why so many restaurants struggle to last longer than 5 years.
A successful restaurant requires managers to properly communicate core values and procedures to employees. Otherwise, there is a schism between management and team members.
This schism leads to poor customer service, higher rates of absenteeism, and greater turnover. In short, good communication is the infrastructure that holds a restaurant together. Read ahead for the other top benefits of business communication.
1. Business Communication Improves Employee Engagement
Effective leaders prioritize internal communication strategies. Statistically, employee engagement directly correlates to how much management engages in effective communication. When employees are informed and feel appreciated for their viewpoints, they are more likely to put forth their best efforts.
For example, a manager that honors employee work preferences and availability will have happier workers who show up on time to their shifts. Higher engagement decreases the turnover rate, improves morale, and adds to the bottom line.
Fast Facts on Employee Engagement:
2. Business Communication Minimizes Communication Silos
Excessive or irrelevant business communications lead to information silos. A silo occurs when information is lost or misconstrued in the workplace. When there are fewer silos, it's much easier to complete projects, collaborate on tasks, and rely on coworkers.
Everyone has access to the same information and knows where to find it. This also improves morale and prevents the type of bottlenecks that lead to angry customers and small tips.
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3. Business Communication Improves Employee Productivity
Good verbal communication maximizes employee productivity. For example, managers should post the schedule in advance and make sure workers know where to find it. That way, employees will show up to their shifts with a positive attitude, ready to work. There will be fewer call-ins or last-minute shift swaps that impact productivity.
Furthermore, employees who feel respected and appreciated are more likely to be productive. To increase productivity, managers must listen to new ideas, handle complaints, and ask for feedback.
4. Business Communication Optimizes Interdepartmental Communications
In the restaurant industry, business communications between the front-of-the-house and back-of-the-house is critical. Servers need to use the proper digital tools to fulfill orders for customers. If cooks and other back-house employees don't receive these communications, it impacts customer service.
With the right communication tools and a set of best practices, managers can improve interdepartmental relationships. This prevents conflicts between coworkers and makes it more likely that patrons will return or leave a good review.
5. Business Communication Enhances Customer Satisfaction
The restaurant industry is a tough business, particularly in the age of COVID-19. Managers need to do everything possible to maximize customer relationships and improve retention rates. If internal and external communications are poor, the quality of customer service will be too.
Restaurants need to be able to manage customer phone calls, written communication in the form of social media posts, and more. They also need to have policies in place to handle customer complaints, monitor reward programs, and carry out transactions. This will improve customer satisfaction and lead to more return visits.
6. Business Communication Optimizes Restaurant Culture
An effective business communication strategy is critical to creating a good workplace environment. Restaurants that communicate honestly and openly have better cultures, higher employee productivity, and greater worker satisfaction.
Those who neglect business communication have poorer engagement, higher turnover, and unhappy employees/customers. Patrons don't want to visit a restaurant with this type of culture, and employees don't want to work there either.
Types of Business Communication
To optimize business communication in the workplace, it helps to know the various types. These include -
- Internal Upward Communication - Communication that comes from a subordinate to a manager or other superior. May include surveys, reports, feedback sessions, or meetings. These communications are valuable because they convey critical information that enables managers to perform their jobs and make decisions.
- Internal Downward Communication - Communication that flows from a superior to a subordinate. This may include a memo, verbal communication (directive), or company email. This enables workers to fulfill duties properly and provide better customer service.
- Internal Lateral Communication - Communication between coworkers. This may include emails, face-to-face discussions, written communication through a messaging app, or in meetings. This strengthens relationships between employees, which improves morale and decreases turnover.
- External Communication - Communication that occurs with external stakeholders such as customers or inventory suppliers. This may occur through phone calls, emails, or in-person. This is critical to maximize retention rates, receive supplies on time, and build brand awareness.
Examples of Effective Business Communication
Business communication is the glue that holds any restaurant or small business together. Employees need to be able to access the right information at the right time to fulfill their job duties. Managers need to communicate policies and procedures so employees feel respected and know how to perform their jobs.
Employees need to use the proper verbal and non verbal communication with customers so they are happy and continue to come back. Workers need to communicate across departments to streamline operations and fulfill orders promptly.
Managers must know how to communicate with vendors, customers, and other stakeholders to increase profits, run good ad campaigns, and order supplies on time. In short, a restaurant or small business without effective communication will eventually fall apart.
Many small businesses use creative means to optimize internal communications and maximize profits. Read ahead for some of the top examples.
1. Business Communication Example Stagecoach and Engagement
Stagecoach is a transport company that implemented an employee app called Blink in 2018. 25,000 workers utilize this digital business communication tool to locate critical company news, offer feedback, and talk with coworkers. Employees can access critical onboarding policies or training manuals that help to perform their jobs.
Stagecoach made this decision based on the knowledge that low engagement hurts performance and sales. As a result of the new app, Stagecoach drivers are more engaged, informed, and happier at work.
2. Business Communication Example Atlas and Furloughed Workers
At the start of COVID-19, Atlas Restaurant Group had to furlough 900 of its 1,000 workers. They also had to temporarily close the vast majority of its restaurants in Baltimore, MD.
Despite these devastating conditions, owners choose to remain in contact with furloughed workers. Managers made phone calls and sent emails each week to check in with team members. They offered free grocery giveaways to those in the Atlas hospitality business and gave gift cards to workers who were struggling.
By strengthening these relationships in a difficult time, they managed to retain the vast majority of their staff. Regular communications also kept employees informed of new procedures and training policies. Now that conditions have improved, 80% of their staff returned rather than going to a new place of employment.
Fast Facts on COVID-19 and Restaurants:
3. Business Communication - Five Guys and Social Media Strategy
Social media strategies are always about customer engagement. Managers need to begin a conversation and use savvy content to encourage patrons to come in and eat. Five Guys implemented a communication strategy online to feature satisfied patrons on Facebook.
This strategy helped the fast-food chain demonstrate how much it cared about its customers. It also effectively engaged with new viewers and lead to more first-time patrons. Five Guys shared a new post every Friday, which gave customers something to look forward to on their feed. This improved sales, increased customer satisfaction and enticed prospective patrons to come in.
How to Improve Business Communication
Not everyone is naturally good at business communication. Many people have anxiety disorders, are introverted, and aren't sure how to interact with others. Other people are more outgoing and naturally friendly. Regardless of one's inherent communication skills, every person can learn to improve his/her business communication techniques.
Managers can also lead by example and prioritize good internal communication to optimize engagement. This will result in more confident team members, better customer relationships, and more streamlined operations. Read ahead for the top tips to improve business communication in the workplace.
1. Business Communication Tip Use Quality Email Program
Every small business or restaurant should implement a quality email program. There should be a spam filter to eliminate junk mail. This will make sure workers receive and see critical information to help perform their jobs.
Managers should decide what type of data they need to send through email and which to communicate in person. For example, a restaurant business may need to send out schedules, convey company news, or provide tax information.
2. Business Communication Tip Utilize an Instant Messaging Program
Digital communication tools and apps such as Slack or ZipSchedules can maximize employee communication. Slack is an instant messaging system where team members can plan projects, send information, or discuss a potential shift swap.
Scheduling apps such as ZipSchedules allow employees to swap shits, request time-off, and view work schedules. These digital tools help to streamline operations and keep everyone informed. They also make it easier for team members to collaborate on projects.
3. Business Communication Tip Encourage Face-to-Face Communication
Managers should encourage employees to use face-to-face communication whenever they can. This will ensure everyone conveys the critical main content that may be lost in emails and phone calls. Face-to-face interaction also minimizes digital bottlenecks that make it hard to convey tone and nuance. These miscommunications can lead to absenteeism, high turnover, and a greater number of customer complaints.
At the same time, emails and other digital messages provide an audit trail that workers can later reference. Both face-to-face discussions and digital communications are critical to maximize internal communications in the workplace.
Fast Facts on Face-to-Face Interactions:
4. Business Communication Tip Schedule Regular Meetings
Meetings provide a space for employees to offer feedback, discuss projects, and express misgivings. They also offer a way for coworkers to build better relationships and interact with one another in a safe environment. Managers should engage in active listening during these sessions and encourage an atmosphere that supports open communication.
5. Business Communication Tip Have an Open-Door Policy
Managers should always have an open-door policy, regardless of the industry they work in. The open-door policy should extend to everyone from the back-of-the-house dishwasher to the second-in-command manager. This will ensure everyone feels appreciated and comfortable to offer feedback and ask questions.
Managers should let workers know that they are willing to address any bottlenecks and are open to suggestions. This will improve morale, optimize employee engagement, and decrease high turnover rates.
6. Business Communication Tip Talk to Employees
Managers should not be standoffish with their employees if they want to optimize internal communications. They should ask their team members questions, get to know them, and say hello every day.
This will help employees feel appreciated and let them know they can approach management with questions or feedback. It will also maximize workplace transparency, which is necessary to streamline operations and minimize errors.
Key Takeaways of Business Communication
In conclusion, here is what to know about business communication -
- Business communication is critical for transparency and honesty, to quickly convey information, to read and use good body language, to understand an audience, and to engage in active listening.
- The benefits of business communication include higher engagement, a decrease in information silos, higher productivity, improved interdepartmental communications, higher customer satisfaction, and stronger restaurant culture.
- The different types of business communication include internal upward communication, internal downward communication, internal lateral communication, and external communication.
- To improve business communication, managers should provide access to a quality email program, utilize a good digital messaging system, encourage face-to-face interaction, schedule regular meetings, maintain an open-door policy, and speak to employees regularly.
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