Tips for Working Ahead for the Holiday Break

When you have an upcoming vacation, you start daydreaming about the ways you’ll fill your freetime: sleeping in, reading a good book, family gatherings, binging that new show on Netflix…

However, the reality of taking a vacation from your job means that you may need to work ahead to keep things going while you’re out.

If you want to make sure you can sit back, relax, and enjoy your vacation, follow these tips for working ahead to take a great vacation.

Schedule Ahead What Can Be Scheduled

If you’re used to working in the moment, you probably aren’t taking advantage of some of the ways you can schedule things ahead of time. Things to consider scheduling out in advance include:

  • Retriever slide publishing & unpublishing
  • Email autoresponder
  • Social media posts
  • E-blasts
  • Emails (if your email client has that feature)
  • Blog posts
  • Thermostat heat/cool settings
  • Holiday light on/off settings

Make a Checklist

Preparing for time off can be very stressful, so it often requires a workflow beyond the regular project management. Make a checklist for those things that must be done before you go on vacation a couple of weeks out and work your way through it a little at a time.

Set & Communicate Rules for Engagement

When you’re out of the office, you determine how available or unavailable you’d like to be. If you want to go off the grid, communicate that with your colleagues and clients, and set up an alternative point of contact while you’re out of the office. This also includes turning off notifications on your smart phone for email and Slack, so you can truly be present on your vacation.

Clean Your Office

If you want to avoid any holiday pests or nasty smells when you return, take some time to clean your office before you go. Take out the trash, remove any candy or food from your office, and take home or throw out anything in the office fridge that won’t be so appetizing upon your return.

Plan for Your Return

Re-entry after a nice vacation can be one of the hardest things about taking a vacation, so take care of future you and work ahead a little bit so that when you return, you won’t be overwhelmed by a daunting workload. This might include making a checklist for first day back priorities, scheduling ahead a few extra things, blocking out some meeting-free hours on your first day back, or cleaning out your email inbox before you depart.

Enjoy your time off! When you get back, we’d love to help make your work life even better by incorporating optimal communication strategies into your workflow. Click here to schedule a free consult with a communication expert. 

 

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Great communication for business owners

When you own a small business, it can feel like you’re constantly repeating yourself. Owners burden the full risk and responsibility of their business, so everything holds a higher stake for them than their employees.

Employees in a small business are constantly looking to their owners and leaders to set the direction and lead the way. That’s why great communication is paramount for business owners… and poor communication can lead to a lot of waste and frustration.

When you as an owner think about what your employees and customers need in terms of communication, you probably think once is enough. As long as you say it clearly, the message ought to come across, however often it doesn’t. Typically it takes someone seeing and hearing a message seven times before they’re ready to take action.

Your time is valuable and you shouldn’t have to spend it repeating yourself, even if that’s what the people around you need. There should be a way to automate these new initiatives and streamline your communications so that you can use your time doing the things that made you want to own a business in the first place.

One way you can automate your communications is with good processes that build in repetition in multiple places. For example, you say it in a meeting, you recap it in an email, you save it in a document, and someone can reference back. The drawback there is that the burden is on the audience to seek it out.

We created a digital signage solution that automates repetition for you, repeating important announcements and messages on a playlist that you customize to your needs. By positioning your screens in key areas, your employees and customers are passively reminded of the important information, and you can move onto the next thing.

We actually created a guide to help you streamline your communications, and we’d love to share it with you for free. In it, you’ll learn skills and tools that will dramatically improve your communications internally, saving you time and money. Click here to download it free!

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Digital Signage Supports HR

 

Digital Signage can typically seem like a marketing or even an IT solution. Unless you’re already using digital signage in your company, you may be missing opportunities to unify your messaging to your employees in an efficient, effective way that saves you time and money.

We live in an age where everyone has infinite people and companies competing for our attention. If you want to get your message to land, you need to repeat it a minimum of seven times.  But, seven times can feel pretty intense, so you need to find a way to automate the repetition so you’re saying it once, but people hear or see it seven times.

If you feel like you’re constantly saying the same thing over and over, let your technology automate that message for you.

What if, strategically placed throughout your company’s workspace, TV screens were remind your employees of important messages like your new policies and procedures, important work announcements, reminding them of the importance of their work, and celebrating victories?

What if, when you had an important announcement, you could update everyone across multiple locations with only a few seconds of work from your desk?

What if your employees felt valued and appreciated because they were kept in the loop at all times, without any additional work for you?

Digital signage is key to making that happen in your business, and it’s the reason we created Retriever Digital Signage. If you’re tired of losing hours in your week to ineffective communication, let’s chat for 15 minutes and we’ll tell you about how we can help. Click here to schedule.

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Reclaim the wait

Let’s just say it: waiting is the worst. No one, at any age, enjoys a wait. Waiting can feel frustrating, and that frustration is an unwelcome brand message regardless of who’s being asked to wait, be it employees or customers.

What if waiting didn’t feel like waiting? What if our wait time felt like an intentional part of our experience? In an increasingly “on demand” culture, it’s imperative that we reclaim our wait times and turn them into meaningful opportunities to engage.

Think about the best amusement parks and how they make the queue part of the overall experience. They entertain, they educate, they engage during a wait, building anticipation in a positive way for the ride at the end.

If we reclaim our wait times and approach them as opportunities to engage, not only will our audience’s perception of how long they waited be reduced, their relationship with the brand will be stronger.

How can you make your wait time an engaging brand experience?

There are dozens of ways to approach this, but before you figure out what to do, you first need to understand two things: who you are, and who your audience is.

Understanding who you are is about understanding broadly the message of your brand, your brand personality, then from there the more tactical things you need to communicate: the initiatives, promotions, and information you need to get across. It’s important that you understand what flavor of fun your brand engages in, because if you’re not entertaining, you’ll lose your audience.

Then, you need to understand who you’re communicating to. What are their needs, wants, problems, doubts, objections, and questions when it comes to engaging with your brand a and the specific experience they’re waiting for. What is entertaining to them? How do they want to engage?

Out of that deep understanding, coming up with great ideas to engage is easy. That said, we’d love to help you strategize ways to improve wait time in your business. Shoot us an email at contact@retrieverdigitalsignage.com and we can help!

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Developing a Culture of Gratitude

Amid the daily hustle and bustle, it can be easy to overlook opportunities to show your team how critical they are to your business.

As we settle into the holiday season, however, it’s increasingly critical to remind your team that they’re important and valued by both the customers and the company’s leadership.

Expressing gratitude to your team will both improve your workplace culture and can help you retain your great employees long term. According to Forbes in a recent study, 66% of employees expressed they would leave their job if they didn’t feel appreciated.

How are you fostering a sense of gratitude to your employees and among them?

Here are just a few ideas that you can put to work for you right away:

Say “Thank You”

Sometimes all it takes is a heartfelt “thank you.” Sure, people shouldn’t have to be thanked for doing their job, but gratitude is always appreciated and helps to motivate your team and give them a deeper sense of belonging as a part of your staff.

Take every opportunity you can to say thank you: at a staff meeting, in your Retriever playlist, on a company email, individually… Don’t forget that without a great staff, your business wouldn’t be able to do anything successfully!

Make Victories, VICTORIOUS!

When we lose, it can hit us hard, so it’s especially important to celebrate when we win!  Did someone complete a training program?  Make a record sale? Did someone compete in a race? Meet a goal weight? Did their child make honor roll?

Put into place a system for celebrating the victories and communicating those celebrations. Perhaps it’s in a meeting, or there’s an online form, or a point person who receives celebration emails. However you execute it, creating a culture of gratitude is about celebrating your people year-round.

Write it Down

Words of encouragement can serve as a reminder of appreciation both when they’re received and later on the hard days if they’ve been written down. By writing down words of praise, the words on the page carry a greater significance and permanence that can boost an employee’s confidence and remind them of their valued place on your team.

Treat Them

Find a way to thank your staff with an unexpected treat – something out of the blue, just because, and entirely “extra.”  Some great surprises that are great for boosting a team’s morale that might work for your office include a catered lunch (just be sure to provide for your food restrictions as well), gift cards, a surprise paid time off, chair massages, or live music in the lunch room.

 

If you’re looking for some more ways to create a culture of gratitude on your team, we believe it all starts with excellent communication. We’d love to help you foster that culture with our guide to communications, which you can download for free here:
Download our Communications Guide

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Does Your Digital Signage...?

When we created Retriever, we did it with our customers in mind. In fact, we did it because we saw the need among our existing customers, so every aspect of our Retriever system was made with the user in mind.

While we’re certainly not the only digital signage solution on the market, we believe we’re among the best simply because we deeply understand you, and your needs.

That said, our ultimate aim is for you to be happy with your communication strategy, so if you’re shopping for digital signage solutions, it’s important that you know what to look for. It can be a little overwhelming to weigh the benefits and features of the various options on the market and make the right decision for your business.

Relevant Content, Included

Don’t let your digital signage become static signage by not leveraging its full potential. Digital signage is an effective solution because it’s visually engaging and has the capacity to have engaging, fresh content every day (and throughout the day!) to ensure that eyeballs are regularly and repeatedly paying attention.

If you have digital signage and are simply cycling through a slideshow of static images or text, then your tool isn’t living up to its potential.

Automation

Automated publishing and unpublishing is key to keeping your signage relevant and engaging. If something’s outdated and is showing up, instead of sending the message you want to communicate, you’re telling your viewers that this sign is irrelevant to them. Inevitably, though, your team will be too busy to remember to take something down, and there’s no reason that they should have to. Your digital signage should easily be scheduled to publish and unpublish so you have the right message, every day.

Ease of Use

Yes, we live in the age of technology, but we believe that as technology advances, so should the user experience. If you’re tech savvy, that’s awesome, but the reality is that ease of use on the software and hardware side should be universally palatable for everyone of every age and ability. If you can type in a word processor, that should be enough to manage digital signage.

Digital signage that is simple to set up, update and navigate means that anyone can be tasked with managing it, and it doesn’t have to become the responsibility of the IT department (or the person who’s become the self-appointed IT professional in your office).

If you’re making a decision about what digital signage is the right option for you, we want to help you find the best option. We’ve created a free downloadable comparison sheet comparing a variety of options on the market – feature for feature – to help you make an informed, smart decision.

Download the Digital Signage Comparison Sheet

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Three Signs Your Communication is Ineffective

You’re not alone. Everyone struggles with communication challenges. In an age where everyone is connected and every friend, relative and brand is competing for attention, it can be nearly impossible to cut through the noise unless what you’re saying is sensational or controversial.

In fact, most people think they’re doing a great job of communicating, when in fact their message isn’t really getting across effectively. If you’re uncertain about whether your communication is effective, there are certain indicators we look for to diagnose a communication problem:

Sign #1: It’s Hard to Attract New Business

One of the most frustrating symptoms of communication breakdowns for a small business is when potential customers settle for your competition simply because they didn’t know you offered the solution they needed.

When people make brand decisions, they often make them with brands they’re already familiar with. Breaking through the noise and bringing your customer to the point of choosing you requires adept marketing and deep understanding of your customer’s needs and pain points… and then it requires that your message is placed and delivered in a way they’re available and interested in engaging with.

Sign #2: It’s Hard to Make Changes

One of the simplest way to tell if you have a problem with communication is by evaluating your business’s ability to implement change. When you roll out a new procedure or initiative, how nimble is your team? Teams that communicate well are able to have productive meetings that result in actionable steps towards change. However, when a team doesn’t communicate well, change can be doubly hard.

If you’ve held staff meetings and sent memos about process changes and you’re still not seeing a shift, the problem is likely not your employees’ willingness to change (though, as we all know, change can be hard for some!), it’s the frequency of reminders about the change. Businesses that communicate exceptionally are finding ways to place passive reminders in the line of sight of their employees as they’re completing the tasks involved in the new process.

Sign #3: It’s Hard to Educate Your Customers

Whether you’re a business owner or a marketing professional, you are constantly in the business of educating your customer. The reality is, every customer is on a journey with your business, and you’re responsible for meeting them where they are. When your customers don’t know about your full line of products and services, that’s a symptom that you’re not communicating effectively.

Your customers actually have a similar challenge to your employees, but they have far fewer points of contact with you. One thing we often forget about with our customers is the curse of knowledge: they don’t know what we know. We assume they’ve made a buying decision, when in fact they are unaware. Get creative with touchpoints with your customer on social media, in your storefront, on the phone, and on your website.

Whatever your communication problem, we’d love to help. We wrote a book filled with strategies to dramatically improve your communication, and we’d love to give it to you, free. Just click here to download the communication guide.

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Increase Communication, Increase Sales

If you’re a B2C company with a storefront, it’s never been harder to grab the attention of your customers. Customers come into your store having already researched your products, sales, and promotions as well as your competitors. While they peruse, they’re price checking on their phones at best, and skimming social media at worst.

Engaging customers once they’re through your front door requires that you make strategic decisions to create an experience and tell your story in a way that captures and retains their attention.

Finding ways to set yourself apart from the start requires thoughtfulness about not only your message, but how you’ll choose to communicate it.

When it comes to your in-store digital signage, we have some pro tips for how to best leverage that tool in your overall in-store messaging strategy.

Promote discounts

While the most obvious, it bears repeating. Increasingly, customers have become accustomed to seeking out discount codes online. If you train your customers to expect an exclusive in-store discount, not only will you drive more traffic into your store, you’ll engage them with your brand on a deeper level as they seek out that discount.

Tell your story

Once you have their attention, tell the story of your brand. People are hard-wired for story, and telling your company’s story gives your guests an opportunity to connect with your brand on a different level, tearing down the store walls and connecting the human beings on both side of the business. When we feel connected, we’re more loyal and are more likely to invest.

Be helpful

Think about what your customer needs beyond what you sell, and help them out. Think about that memorable scene in Miracle on 34th Street when Santa Claus sends a mother to another store where she can find the toy she’s seeking that is unavailable at their store. Maybe you don’t need to send people away, but capture the heart of what your customers need, and meet those needs before they ask.

Perhaps you’re sharing tips for a healthy runner’s stride in your sporting good store, or simple recipes in a grocery store. Bring value, no matter what.

Share the spotlight

One of the best ways to spread your message well is to share the spotlight with others. Invite local non-profits to partner with your business to advertise and promote their programs and events. When your brand partners well with others, your customers feel great about investing in you.

If you’re looking for even more ways to maximize your in-store experience, we’d love to help. Reach out and we’ll consult, free of charge.

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Refer Retriever!

When we created Retriever, it’s because our clients had a need, and we were primed to help. Our company has been an expert in communication for more than three decades, and we had clients who wanted a more dynamic way to communicate with their employees and customers than their bulletin boards and static signage could manage.

One of the challenges many of our customers faced with other digital signage products on the market was the need to involve IT. For some of our customers, their IT team was maxed out on other projects, and for others their operations were too small to have an IT team on staff. So, we knew Retriever needed to be simple enough that anyone could use it, but powerful enough to beautifully and dynamically communicate.

Over the years, our customer base has grown, largely due to word of mouth. We get it – when you’ve got something great, you want to share it with your friends! The great thing about Retriever is that it’s highly visible too, so many of our customers not only heard about it from their friends, they’ve seen it in action around town and have instantly seen the impact it can make on their own business.

If you love your Retriever, thank you. Thanks for letting us partner with you to communicate with your customers and employees. Thanks for trusting us with your message.

We want to spread the love – and we want to thank you in the process. If you’d like to share Retriever with a friend, simply click this link. When they purchase, we’ll thank you with a $50 Amazon Gift Card.

 

 

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Onboard well!

Onboarding a new employee is one of the most important steps to building a successful team. More often than not “bad hires” are actually good employees who started on the wrong foot.

During employee onboarding, you have the opportunity to give a new employee a sense of belonging as a part of your team, as well as an understanding of your business and what’s expected of them. Your onboarding process must give the new employee the tools they need to be successful in their job.

Welcome the new team member

When a new face joins your team, build some excitement around it!  Your new team member will begin to feel a sense of belonging, and it will present an easy opportunity to learn names and start to form relationships among their co-workers. When you announce a new hire, it sends the message to the community that your team is growing and thriving.

Prepare them for their first day

Prior to Day 1, give your new employee an opportunity to assimilate. Give them access to their email and calendar so they can start to set things up, and clue them in on things like expectations and org chart so they have an idea of what they’re walking into.

The curse of knowledge

Don’t neglect the importance of basic fundamentals when someone is starting with your business. How do you make an outside call? Where do you store passwords? Where should they park? How long do they have to eat lunch? Where do you keep office supplies? Where are the restrooms? By removing those small barriers to assimilation, your new hire will feel more comfortable sooner, and will be able to perform their job duties sooner.

Mission, Vision, and Values

When you hired your new employee, you were looking at several factors: skill, culture fit, alignment with core values, experience, personality, etc. Now that they’re on the team, though, don’t assume that they know what your core values, mission, and vision are all about. Spend some time talking about your core values, why they’re the ones your company lives out, and what that looks like. Explain why your vision and mission matter, and how that works in daily application.

At Retriever Digital Signage, we want to help your team to thrive. In fact, we’ve written a book all about how to effectively communicate with your team, and we’d love to give you a free copy: Download our Communications Guide

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