Molly Moon Neitzel, the founder, and CEO of Molly Moon’s Homemade Ice Cream gave Ramon Ray the scoop on Slack and how it’s made her small business more efficient. Molly started her business a little over 10 years ago and now owns 8 shops in the Seattle area. Her team consists of around 80 employees in the winter and up to 190 in the summer. Her goal when starting Molly Moon’s was to see if, “I could embody my very progressive values in a business plan and still be profitable.” And she’s been successful at doing just what she set out to do. Values like great benefits for employees, everything being compostable, and sustainable ingredient choices fuel Molly Moon’s.
Marketing. How are You Getting Customers?
“Brand and position in the market.” Molly Moon’s was the first homemade ice cream shop in Seattle. Today they own 8 out of about 35 or so homemade ice cream shops in Seattle. Molly attributes their success to the strength of their brand and it being,
“really fun and beautiful visually and really value-forward. For any business, being loud and proud about what your values are if you think that a lot of your customers will share your values can be a really huge benefit and win customer loyalty, and I think that’s been very true for us.”
Less than a year into owning her business, Molly hired Eric Anderson for her second shop. Eric was an ice cream scooper, fresh out of college. Now 10 years later, he manages much of the operations as their North Area Manager and has some great insight for growing and keeping a business healthy. “Creating great experiences in our stores. Making sure our employees are happy, supported, and have the tools that they need to do a good job and delight people when they come in our stores.” Eric also insists that “some of the most valuable marketing is word of mouth about a great experience,” whether that’s eating delicious ice cream or having a great interaction with an employee that is scooping that ice cream.
Slack Keeps Growing Companies Connected
Ramon also talked with Molly and Eric about Slack–in his own words, “a collaboration communications tool used by zillions of people all over the globe.” Molly shared that as her company grew, she felt more disconnected and inaccessible to her employees. But, Slack has reversed that. “I can slack on some channels and be talking to everybody in the company, or people who don’t get to interface with me a lot. And they get to see that I’m a real person, I make typos, I have my own opinions. It’s not all talk from the big, scary HQ.”
Out with the Old, In with the New
Eric is a fan of the visibility of the communication. You can send a private message to someone, but you can also write in threaded communication in channels. Slack replaced many of the old-world communication tools like email and texts.
“I’m not sure the last time you bumped into a 19-year-old, but they’re not super all over email,” Eric laughed.
He’s found Slack to be a very effective way to communicate quickly with their teams. He also appreciates the ability to customize notifications. He did like how texts were pushed straight to their phones and that employees were dealing with work notifications on their personal time.
“We can post in channels to all the folks for who the communication is relevant, have them see it whenever they choose to see it. All that we ask is that they check it when they clock in for work.”
Molly Moon’s employees can set up notifications however they’d like on Slack on both the desktop and mobile app. Slack sends notifications just like a social media app and you can even turn them off after a certain hour.
Molly shared one way that Slack is increasing efficiencies over at Molly Moon’s. Molly’s dad is the facilities manager and he has Slack notifications turned on based on certain keywords such as “broken” or “not working.” Molly said, “not every 18-year-old knows who they are supposed to tell when something is broken. But now, no matter who they tell, the facilities manager gets the notification and resolves the problem.” Using Slack allows an issue to be fixed the same day. Before Slack, it would be several days of back and forth email and missed phone calls.
Slack offers some cool features that Molly has been experimenting with. She’s planning to use Slack to host a town hall or virtual meeting with the CEO. She usually offers a monthly coffee that everyone is welcome to attend, but admits that they aren’t super well attended. Using this Slack features, she’s able to give employees the chance to ask questions and she’s willing to answer in public.
How They Deploy Slack
Eric shared how they use Slack and some of their different channels:
- General Channel- everybody at any level has access. Great for things like companywide announcements or pushing new product info to store employees.
- Each Shop Channel- things that aren’t impacting the business broadly, but are shop specific such as customer feedback for a certain shop, anybody who is working that day will see the relevant communication
- Office HQ Channel
- Front of House Managers
The communication doesn’t always have to be actionable for everyone., employees feel more plugged in and like they know what’s going on.
Picking Up the Slack
Molly’s voicemail says, “please don’t leave me a message, send me a text or an email.”
She eliminated checking voicemail from her daily and weekly routine. Slack has taken quite a bit out of her email inbox. Her voicemail messages now go into a place that’s easier and quicker to check.
“My inbox is still insane, but I don’t feel that it’s as important to keep up with email as I once did, because I know all of my internal communication with the people who impact the company’s success the most, and who I impact on a daily basis the most, I am pretty caught up on and in touch with.”
Eric admits that he was the most resistant and skeptical about using Slack. He advises anyone making the transition to “try to be enthusiastic about using this tool from day one even if you have reservations”. Don’t be all business, having some fun can encourage team members to buy in. They have a Random Channel for non-work-related stuff. Commit to using it and embrace it. If you make it important and important things are happening on Slack then your employees will get on board. Within a month or two, Eric said they had great participation. Molly’s advice is to not limit using Slack to one department. In the beginning, only their marketing team tried it and they just couldn’t get into the habit of consistently using it. It wasn’t in use enough in their work life. Implement it across all departments.