BRANDE : Training

December 17, 2012

Why I Love the Wendy’s “Hot Drinks” Video

As a specialist in employer branding and HR communications, I’m always looking for hiring, onboarding, and training samples and ideas. Here’s one I recently came across. It’s a training video, produced by Wendy’s, instructing employees on how to prepare hot beverages. The video seems to have been produced in the late 80s or early 90s.

Here’s why I love it:
It’s actually informative.
I work just a block away from the Wendy’s on Fifth Avenue but rarely have a reason to go inside. Watching the video, however, I learned that Wendy’s sells not just coffee and decaf but also hot tea and cocoa. I honestly had no idea that I could get hot chocolate at Wendy’s. And who wouldn’t want their drink served with a “juicy slice” of lemon?
It wasn’t posted by Wendy’s.
At least, as far as I can tell. The video is posted on a personal YouTube account with no affiliation to the restaurant. The video is so entertaining (or so kitschy) that someone decided to post it for the world to see – and more than 225,000 people have viewed it. Rather than trumpeting this video to the public, Wendy’s was simply trying to educate and amuse their employees; the fact that it’s going viral without their help makes its success completely authentic.

It didn’t have to be fun.
The training video for preparing four hot drinks could have been straightforward. A smiling Wendy’s employee could have conveyed the information in two minutes, at little cost. But Wendy’s took this video to a whole new level, writing an original song, adding effects, and turning a simple one-shot setup into a production with multiple cuts and angles. I’m sure that employees watching the video would go from smiling to laughing to tapping their feet. Even if they’re laughing for the wrong reasons, they’d at least know they’re joining a company that values fun.
This video is proof that it’s possible to be cheesy, fun, and informative all at the same time.
The next time you’re about to create training materials, remember “Hot Drinks” and ask yourself: Is this as fun as it could be? Will it keep the employees’ attention? And if an employee posts it online – a real possibility in the digital age – how will our brand look?
If you have training or onboarding content this compelling and engaging, send it my way. If you don’t, let’s get together
March 6, 2011

Helping You Help Them

Don’t ask me why but it seems that no matter how industrious you are as an HR professional, your success often hinges on the participation of your employees, who, unfortunately, have little motivation to make your job easier.

They’ll drag their feet when it comes to filling out HR materials or completing training – even safety training that could save their lives.

So, direct from the best agency in brand-aligned workforce communications, comes a few professional trade secrets.

Create a clear line-of-sight to “why and when”

First, make sure you communicate both the importance of the materials and the deadline for completing them. The date should be prominent and attached to the materials so the two can’t be separated. If you’re sending materials by email, make sure the deadline is in both the body of the letter and on the materials themselves, whether it’s a PDF, an intranet site, or a spreadsheet. Follow-up with reminders, either in person, by email, or through a public forum like the company newsletter. If there are rewards for finishing early (see below), announce who was won so far, giving motivation to the procrastinators.

You’ll Win with Contests

Nothing persuades like competition. Divide your staff by department or into special teams, or make the contest an individual endeavor. Whoever finishes first, or gets the most answers correct, or has the most participation, wins a prize. Contests with multiple prizes, such as weekly winners or both a “best” and a “most” award, work best; if people know the prize has already been won, they have no reason to participate.


Sometimes exhibitions can be as fun as competitions. If you’re implementing a safety program, ask your staff to designate “the most dangerous place in the office,” along with “the safest place in the office” – based on the safety materials, which they have to read to fully participate. Hold a humorous meeting to decide what to call the new floor safety warden (my favorite was “Captain Safeguard”). Give everyone stickers and let them tag potential hazards around the workplace. You can even add a “contest” element by holding an election to pick the safety warden. Any activity that involves the entire company provides extra motivation for reluctant executives to participate.

Your Staff’s Favorite Radio Station? WI.FM

“What’s in it for me?” employees ask all too often. There are lots of responses that are well within your budget – or even cost nothing at all. The winning employee(s) can leave early, work from home one day, or host an “all-jeans day” for themselves and their favorite colleagues.

Use your company’s “wall of fame” or Employee of the Month program. (If you don’t have one, start one.) Of course, simple public recognition costs nothing: giving the winner a standing ovation at your next staff meeting or posting their achievement on the bulletin board can mean a lot to your workers. Keep the prizes simple- even a pizza, movie pass or Starbucks card can add sizzle to your shtick.

Making success fun makes your workplace more productive and your job a lot easier.

May 31, 2008

Why Zappos Pays New Employees to Quit—And You Should Too

Ever heard of a “Quit-Now” bonus for new employees? We’ve all heard of severance packages where long-standing employees are essentially paid a bonus to quit now. But a “Quit-Now” bonus for new employees to voluntarily leave after a week on the job … that’s novel.

Bill Taylor, of Mavericks at Work fame, writes how Zappos , a fast-growing online shoe retailer, will offer one-week old employees a “Quit-Now” bonus of $1,000. Zappos will ask new employees this question … “If you quit today, we will pay you for the amount of time you’ve worked, plus we will offer you a $1,000 bonus.”

Why does Zappos do this? The reasoning, as Bill Taylor put it, is …

“Because if you’re willing to take the company up on the offer, you obviously don’t have the sense of commitment they are looking for. It’s hard to describe the level of energy in the Zappos culture—which means, by definition, it’s not for everybody. Zappos wants to learn if there’s a bad fit between what makes the organization tick and what makes individual employees tick—and it’s willing to pay to learn sooner rather than later. (About ten percent of new call-center employees take the money and run.)”


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Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos, provides his 10 tips for building a customer service focused culture.

Whichever is your media of choice, the deal is that for a virtual company to have such a strong connection with its customers, they must be doing something right.

All employees that are hired into their corporate office, regardless of position, are required to undergo a 4-week Customer Loyalty Training course, which includes at least 2 weeks of talking on the phone with customers in the call center.[7] at full salary. After training the new employees are offered $1000 to leave the job immediately.[7] This is to ensure people are there for the love of the job and not the money. Over 90% turn down the buyout.

Great job Tony. And move over Southwest. I’ve just found a new case study for my toolbox.

I have emailed Tony who graciously offered me a free copy of his culture book. More to come.

May 3, 2008

Culture Drinks Strategy for Breakfast

On February 26th, Starbucks closed each of its more than 7,000 stores for 3.5 hours to provide Expresso Excellence training for 135,000 employees. As a culture advocate, I was pretty impressed with the effort after I roughly calculated the cost in lost sales to be near 1.9 million dollars. Though at the same time it seemed like a pretty steep price to teach someone how to press a button.

But look at it another way-

Starbucks spends less than 1/10th of 1% on advertising- its nearest competitor based on market share in the fast food restaurant category spends 231 million. The story was picked up by every major outlet thanks to a media alert they sent out– a media alert and got almost 1,500 people to Digg it.

Thankfully, since caffeine-deprived brains might fail us at any time, Starbucks even included some tips on what we could do during the closing hours:

“12,600 Seconds in Time” – 5 GREAT THINGS TO DO IN JUST 3 ½ HOURS
1. Thinking of a change in hair color? A full color with highlights takes just about 3 hours.
2. Watch almost all of the nominated short films.
3. When was the last time you made a home cooked meal? You can roast an 8lb -12lb turkey in 3 ½ hours.
4. What better time to organize those closets, it’s a jump start on spring cleaning.
5. After patiently waiting 12,601 seconds, head to Starbucks to get that espresso!

Was it a PR stunt? They reemerged with a new take on “the customer is always right” policy posted about their stores; it reads: “Your drink should be perfect, every time. If not, let us know and we’ll make it right.” Even if the answer was yes, good for them.

And, good for Dunkin Donuts who had their own idea- they dropped the price of their lattes and cappuccinos to a mere 99 cents during their competitor’s closure and saw a 10% spike in sales.
Did it work? A few blog comments I swiped from cyberspace:

A visit to a Starbucks in Mt. Kisco, New York indicates that no one was paying attention during the training day. The store was dirty. A cigarette butt at one door. A snow shovel against the new coffee makers on sale. Floors that had not been swept recently. The service area for getting milk and napkins in disarray.

Perhaps Starbucks workers should be paid based on the stock price. That might get their attention.

Douglas A. McIntyre

In response to whether or not the Starbucks training night this spring was a success, I belive that the answer was yes. My tall, decaf, non-fat lattes have never tasted so good! I have sampled them at a variety of locations throughout my city and they were all much improved over the ones I purchased pre-training. More importantly, I have seen a notable increase in personalized service at my neighborhood Starbucks. Again, my take from the frontlines was that it was a success!

Posted by: J. Lockwood

It seems the goal of the training was to boost sales. The means to do this was to make a better cup of coffee and provide superior customer service. But is customer service training the way to boost sales? Yes, you are treating the customers you already have, the regulars, better. But how is this training going to attract the new customers that Starbucks needs to grow their business? Without a marketing plan for the training to support, we may never see how successful this training was for Starbucks.

Posted by: Jennifer Miller | Thursday, 24 April 2008 at 07:35 PM

What do you think?