"Family business communication is an increasingly important business function that family businesses need to manage with a clear vision and strategy," according to top family business expert
Schwerzler has been studying and advising family business entrepreneurs for more than 40 years and is the founder of the
Family Business Institute
and the web organization Family Business Experts, both of which are headquartered in Atlanta GA.
The topic of business communication is so broad that it can be easy to forget just how many aspects there are to effective communications for family businesses. And with the advent of social networking, it is easy to lose focus on the communication strategies and initiatives being employed by a family business.
Throughout our site, we present the topics in the context of other family business problems and opportunities.
So, we use this page to bring all the topics together in one reference source. Use it as your index or guide to all of our business communication materials.
There are three channels of business communications - external, internal and cross channel.
Business Communication - External Channels
External channels of communication include public relations, marketing, press releases, web-related strategies and publishing books and articles.
Marketing strategies - simple or complex - should start with the development of a marketing plan. The 4 Ps of marketing classify the four controllable elements of your marketing plan. Product, place [distribution] and promotion are all expenses; price brings in revenue. Family businesses must pay close attention to controlling each of the four.
The 4 Ps of marketing
Once the marketing plan and budget are agreed upon, the next big step is the development of the marketing materials. Just because you as the business owner know your business does not mean you are an effective copy writer of business communication. Using a professional writer simply makes good sense.
The high priests of communication strategies are the public relation firms - these are the folks we see every night on the TV news spinning the news stories for politicians and special interest groups. Few small to medium sized family businesses can afford a high priced public relations firm but every good entrepreneur can find good ways to get the name of their company into the media. Opportunities abound from sponsoring little league teams to being nominated for a family business profile on our web site.
Family Business Profiles
Another way to enhance the public's awareness of a company or individual is to write a book. With today’s technology, being a published author is not an expensive proposition.
Write a Book
A sure-fire way to establish professional or expert status is to write a book. Not a good writer? Hire one!
Business Cards, Brochures, Post Cards
Printed materials like business cards, post cards, brochures can are powerful tools that can help promote and brand your business.
Business Communication - Internal Channels
Internal communication channels include employee newsletters, employee handbooks, management handbooks, human resources forms, pre-employment checks, organizational guides, employee satisfaction surveys, team building, business valuation, project management, and swot analysis.
One of the best tools a family business can develop to encourage the sense of family with the employees is to publish an employee news letter. An employee newsletter is a great tool to communicate the values of the family to the employees of the business. For some family businesses a weekly letter from the owner of the business posted on the company bulletin board will suffice. Others might care to hire a ghost writer to develop a professional version
Publish a Newsletter
EMPLOYMEE HANDBOOK - As the family business grows, so too will the number of employees who are not family members. Family members can be more forgiving of politically incorrect transgressions but non-family members of the business might be less forgiving. In fact, nowadays they are likely to take legal action. A law suit can destroy the business. The best way to communicate the rules of the business is to use an employee handbook.
Over the past few years the role of the human resource department has changed dramatically. The key to sustained growth for family business is to formalize the management of the business. Human resource people can help the business become more professionally managed.
As the family business grows, the organizational structure of the business must change as well. The management of the business will need to evolve towards more scientific management to better understand the complexities of organization and change management. We offer many great tips and ideas on the change management section of our web site.
Practitioner's Guide for Organizing an Organization
When the family business first started out, the owner was able to meet and greet everyone everyday but as the business grows the family business owner has less opportunity to take the pulse of the employees. To really know what is going on, "management by walking around" is helpful but very superficial. Cutting edge organizational assessment tools are easy to use and very affordable, for example the ODS-OL (Organizational Diagnostic Survey-OnLine) assessment tool.
Team building is another essential of business communication success. A wonderful tool is available to help create solidarity and to ensure your work teams are working on solving problems not just spending their time treating the recurring symptoms of problems.
Key Business Questions for Team Building
Business valuation is another opportunity for business communication success. Business valuations can be used to keep the strategic planning of the business focused on increasing share holder value. Valuations can also be used to shape compensation plans for the family as well as for key non-family executive managers. Business valuation can also be used as part of the succession management process.
Family Business Valuation
When the family business is first getting started the business owner can keep most everything that is "going on" in their head. But as the business grows and duties and responsibilities for running the business become less centralized, it is important for the family business owner to consider using project management tools to keep everything on track.
Project KickStart - project management software
Cross Channel Business Communication
Cross channel business communication includes web sites, customer relationship management, telecommunications, vision and mission statements, family business history books, corporate governance, family foundations and business plans.
When we discuss cross channel business communication, the web site for the business is top of the list in importance. The web site can be used for public relations, marketing, sales and customer relations. In other words, it can touch almost every element of a business including allowing customers to check the status of their orders. We feel that a web site should be considered and managed as would any other profit center. Site Build It (SBI)is a proven tool when developing a web site strategy for your family business - we recommend SBI to our family business clients.
Make More Money Using eBusiness Strategies for Your Family Business
Customer relationship management is a very important part of business communication. As in other parts of the business, technology is making CRM ever more efficient and effective.
Sales Force Automation can organize all your marketing, sales and business development information.
Business Communication discussions would be remiss if we did not talk about using your computer to make telephone calls. This is known as Voice-over-internet-protocol or VOIP. SKYPE should be considered because it allows SKYPE customers to talk with one another for free any time of the day with no limit to how much time is used. Using Skype to connect to the telephones of those who are not Skype members is very cost effective and generally cheaper than long distance or cellular - and the connections are often clearer and more reliable also!
Another aspect of team building in business communication is SWOT Analysis - one of the most productive exercises a company can do to build better connected teams. SWOT Analysis can also be used to get input from customers and vendors. Asking the right questions is critical to a good SWOT Analysis, so we developed
160 Key Business Questions!
Mission and vision statements are another important part of business communication. More and more, people are using vision and mission statements when they are seeking new strategic business partners. Vision and mission statements help to communicate the values of the business. Family business history books and legacy walls are also important strategies for business communication. Sharing the history of the business is a wonderful way to build relationships with customers, vendors and new employees.
Family Business Histories
How to successfully organize an organization is all about business communication. Successful organizations have a common thread - they react to change rapidly. ODS-OL is the perfect online tool for top managers and independent directors to use in assessing their organizations.
ODS-OL assessment tool for top managers and outside directors
We think this is the best on-line organization assessment tool available! If you are a med-large family business this assessment tool will enable you to know if the management team is aligned with the core values of the family. If you are serving as a director of a larger-sized company - this assessment tool will provide information and insights about the leadership of the business, not just at the top - but throughout the entire organization.
Chaos Busters - The Management Guide
Identifies 160 Key Business Questions
160 Key Business Questions is the key to unlock the hidden potential of your organization!
- 160 Key Business Questions will stimulate creativity and innovation for your entire management team!
160 Key Business Questions will save you time and make your work more effective!
160 Key Business Questions is a Multi-purpose tool with unlimited applications!
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