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Passing The Word: Written Memos Clarify Communication And Avoid Confusion

by Len Rashkin
Posted On: 9/28/2011

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We have all heard the old expression, "the three most important things about real estate are location, location and location." Well, in any organization, "communication, communication, communication" is extremely important in running your company successfully.

Just think about how many times you have made detailed plans and someone misunderstood, did not hear you or just forgot, so the project got messed up or delayed? It has happened to all of us. We can reduce these errors by communicating better, by using written memos or email.

Below are two memos that I discovered while cleaning out some files in my home office. When I was president of Dell Coffee & Office Services, I had sent them to two departments in preparation for our monthly meetings. I have learned that, by putting things in writing, either by memos or email, you create a "paper trail" that eliminates misunderstandings, confusion and errors. Here is an example.

From: LR, President
To: Managerial team of Dell Coffee
Agenda: Increased profitability throughout firm
Duration of meeting: One hour
Time/place: Wed. Oct. 1, 1999, 1 p.m./boardroom
Next meeting: Nov. 5, 1 p.m.

Our goal at this meeting will be to bring forth a few ideas from each department that will enhance our profitability. You and your staff should be communicating with each other, so that all of our Dell employees can share their ideas on making their departments and company more efficient.

Please keep in mind that all ideas will be welcome and that one idea could spark another idea. Write down your department's ideas for the meeting. Any ideas that are used to save our company time, money or to increase our client base, without disrupting our quality services, will be rewarded with a monetary gift or personal time off.

A president of Hallmark Cards once said, "The only sustainable edge for a corporation is the energy and cleverness of its people. To tap that, a chief executive must craft a vision, empower employees, encourage teamwork and kindle the competitive fires."

Well, here is our chance to tap into our most important asset, our Dell employees. LET'S DO IT!

The ideas brought forth at this managers' meeting were exceptional from most departments. The next memo was to our sales department, and the topic was "Wholesale Accounts (restaurants, fast food, delis and convenience stores).

Please read the following and add your suggestions at this meeting. I would like  you to give me feedback on any of the suggestions listed. An honest and open exchange of ideas will enhance our ability to gain market share in the foodservice arena and add to all of our compensation.

1. Training sessions whereby two representatives make sales calls together and share their experiences and techniques on selling foodservice accounts.

2. When there is an espresso machine owned by a reseller who is using pre-ground espresso, suggest our branded espresso pods. Using pods has several benefits for the restaurant: Consumer awareness of high quality with Brand X; consistently great taste; no guessing on how hard to tamp grinds; time saving (just drop in pod); eliminates messy grinding; accurate inventory controls; and a quick learning curve for new employees, thus leading to more productivity and profitability.

3. Discussion of "What makes our company unique compared to our competition?"

4. Please think of "value added services" offered by us, versus lower-priced coffees.

5. Selling "benefits," not just features. List every benefit for each feature when you present.

6. We will be presenting our new signs for window displays/counters/airpots and thermals.

7. Introducing our new 24/7 service on equipment. Please be prepared to discuss and present to the entire sales team on what you would say to the buyer about this service.

8. Establishing better communication and comfort levels between salespeople and our service department. This will allow you to be in the field longer and add more sales, instead of waiting for the installer to install equipment into your new accounts. The service department is our friend, so let's all work together. Please suggest ways for our service department to perform more efficiently, and our service department will be suggesting ways for you to be more explicit on what is needed on the installation check­list.

9. Restaurateurs will be much more open to using our services if you can show them ways of getting their customers to come back more frequently. You are the professionals, and if you can create "comfortability" between you and the owner or manager, you will be able to sell more of our products and services. Think of ways to create this comfortability, and we will discuss at our meeting: SHOW THEM THE MONEY!!!

As you can see, communication is essential to run a successful company. It applies not only to large companies, but to small ones as well. One mistake avoided could mean one less account lost. The math is easy, and the application to put it in writing is just as simple.

Please let me know how you have communicated with your staff about some of the topics covered. I can be reached by calling (516) 241-4883, or by emailing me at

LEN RASHKIN is a pioneer in office coffee service. He founded Coffee Sip in 1968 and after 22 years merged it with Dell Coffee, of which he became president in 1991. Sales at Dell topped $7 million dollars. Rashkin is also a founder and officer of Eastern Coffee Service Association and National Beverage Products Association. His industry honors include NCSA's (now NAMA) Silver Service Award and NBPA's Lifetime Achievement Award; he was inducted into NBPA's Hall of Fame in 1996. His marketing excellence earned him NBPA's Crystal Bean Award and three NCSA Java Awards. He is a frequent speaker at national and local trade conferences, consults on OCS sales and marketing and has is the author of two OCS training programs.