Onboarding A New Team Member: Introducing Your Story And Floral Company Culture

By Ryan ONeil
After weeks--or even months--you have finally found the perfect addition to your team. They are an incredible floral designer, able to win over most any potential client in a consultation, or know the best customer service practices to keep a client happy and leaving rave reviews. The truth is, however, that no matter how amazingly talented the new team member is, there is quite a bit of work to be done before they are really part of your floral business.

Over the past month, my wife, Rachael, and I have been doing some new team member onboarding both at our St. Louis Shop, Twisted Willow, and at Curate. We are trying to teach new team members all the daily processes and principles that are now second nature to us--including key tenets of our floral company culture, how we market the company, special things we do to book new clients, and the 19 softwares we use to run our floral studio. While there are some legal and administrative things to take care of before starting the onboarding process and specific processes for each division that need to be addressed (we'll talk about both next week), we have found that the two most important aspects of our onboarding process go hand in hand: introducing both our story and floral company culture.

Our Story
Our story and our company’s story is an integral part of who we are. This was a hard point for me to personally learn. So many times I just expected that people should just show up to their first day of work and start working. But you need to give them an opportunity to buy in. For a team member to really understand why we do what we do and where we are going in the future, understanding where we have come from is crucial. We want them to buy into our story and know that they are becoming a part of that.
In the process of explaining our story, we emphasize our mission of creating a unique experience for each client as we help them #CelebrateForever. As our aim is to make a tangible and consistent difference for each of our clients, we ask each new team member to look over our reviews on TheKnot to get a sense of the various things we have done to leave clients raving about our work. It’s at this point that we shift the discussion from who we are and what we do to how we do it. 
Introducing Our Floral Company Culture
Every floral shop is going to have a different and defined company culture (even if you are just starting out). At Twisted Willow, our company culture centers on the fact that we are in a near luxury business and our pricing requires the best and fastest customer service we can give.
Our first principle is GTD (Getting Things Done). We had one lead designer at one point who would use the phrase, “I tried my best.” Trying your best is lacking if the arbor falls over because we failed to set it up and test it before the wedding. The fact is that either something is done or it’s not. As a team, we have a list of things that need to get done: following up on leads, contacting clients, scheduling consultations, dreaming up designs, finalizing proposals, ordering flowers, setting up events, washing buckets, plus a plethora of office tasks. If a new team member is not going to be able to get things done, they don’t have a place with us. We don’t want someone who makes up excuses about why they were late finishing a task or who simply completes a task; our team is made up of exceptional people who are willing to go above and beyond to get things done and who are willing to admit when they don’t know how to do something or communicate if there is a real issue with what they are working on. If we are to expect this from them, we need to tell them up front.
We encourage feedback in every area of our shop. If there is something we are doing that can be done better or more efficiently, we definitely want to hear our team’s thoughts about it. However, once the project lead has made the call, we trust their judgment and go with it. This encourages teamwork and allows everyone to feel they have a voice and stake in the studio while giving clear leadership and accountability for projects that need to be done.
Finally, we always remember that we are offering a premium experience for clients with more flexible and premium budgets and how we present ourselves will always reflect that experience. Often times, we will work with clients who are working with a particular wedding planner or vendor we know well so we want to ensure that we maintain a high quality in our connection with each client and execution of every event to maintain our reputation.
I cannot overstate how crucial it is that you define your floral shop’s team culture for new team members up front. It’s only when a new team member really buys into the core principles of your own company culture that they will thrive in that environment and feed into the success of your team. If you don’t have them, get them. For us, these three core principles drive every aspect of our company and are expected to be seen consistently throughout each division at our shop. When they are not present, team cannot be as efficient and effective in accomplishing our mission.
After teaching our core principles, we teach our new team members some basic principles for each of our divisions: design, event execution, administration, and sales/marketing. There are also some administrative/legal details we need to cover at the start of the onboarding process We'll get into the details of the principles for each of these divisions next week but, ultimately, the success of a new team member hinges on whether or not they buy into both your story and company culture.  
On the whole, onboarding a new team member really is a tedious process. But we’ve learned from having several people rotate through positions, it’s much better to address all these logistics ahead of time than having to deal with a conversation later in the relationship about why they aren't getting things done and aren't helping to deliver a premium experience to our clients.
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Tags: Tips, Small Business Sally, Curate, Corporate Cate, Established Ed


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