How you handle crisis communications can have a huge impact on how your company comes through the crisis. We've seen a lot of examples of companies handling a crisis in less-than-ideal ways recently, so let's take a look at one that is really succeeding in using their intranet to master crisis communications.
The Client: Texas Roadhouse
Texas Roadhouse is an American chain restaurant specializing in steaks, headquartered in Louisville, Kentucky. They have 70,000 employees at over 700 locations in 49 states. That means a huge number of employees spread out across the country, all dealing with different regulations in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. In other words, a huge crisis communications challenge.
Being Prepared to Pivot
No one at Texas Roadhouse could have predicted that their primarily dine-in restaurants would be transitioning to takeout only overnight. The goal was to make the change seamless for the guests, with directional signage and clear communication. But clear crisis communications were also key internally, with everyone at the head office working around the clock to get the restaurant operators the most update to information - information that was changing day to day and state to state. As they were ready to re-open, Texas Roadhouse had over 400 new customizable documents that their operators could access on their intranet. By leveraging their IntranetPro intranet, Texas Roadhouse was able to ensure everyone was on the same page while continuing to support the organization’s entrepreneurial spirit.
Crisis Communications Keys to Success
“We’ve always said we’re a people company,” communications manager Amanda Norton shared. That attitude starts from the top with CEO Kent Taylor. Early in the pandemic, it was revealed that Taylor had donated his yearly salary to help support front-line employees. This was more than just a publicity stunt. Taylor has always prioritized making himself available to his frontline employees with an open door policy. Even before the pandemic, Taylor regularly used the company’s intranet to communicate with the team, but during the crisis, the personal messages from leadership became even more important for employee morale. The IntranetPro intranet makes it easy for Texas Roadhouse to share personalized stories with their employees, putting the focus directly on the people.
The Intranet as a Resource Center
Texas Roadhouse set up a coronavirus resource center on their intranet as soon as they realized the pandemic was hitting the US, in mid-February. Starting out as just one page, the resource center served as a single source of truth for the company. As the support center staff realized the value of having this important information in one easy to access spot - especially as they were all transitioning to working from home. Different departments began requesting their own pages to share their specific information. The resource center lets Texas Roadhouse share up to date information on:
- Public health updates
- Training materials
- Marketing materials
- WFH resources
- Benefits information
- Re-opening information
Having all this information in one place on the intranet avoiding countless emails back and forth, was integral to their ability to pivot so seamlessly. Plus, now that it is established, the resource center will live on beyond the pandemic, providing valuable updates and materials to all employees.
Daily Internal & Crisis Communications
In addition to departmental communications, Texas Roadhouse implemented daily phone calls with their operators for about the first six weeks of the pandemic. The different operators on the call would discuss the best practices they had developed in their locations. After these listening sessions, Nelson would reach out to the operators and work with them to create content to be posted on the intranet, so the rest of the company could take full advantage of this employee knowledge. The organic content generated out of the daily listening sessions covers everything from different ways to set up the dining room for re-opening to best practices for handling ready-to-grill steaks. Given that operators are typically more focused on running their restaurant than communications, these daily communications were key to getting valuable organic content onto the intranet.
With a company as big and spread out as Texas Roadhouse, a one-size-fits-all response to a crisis is not going to work. It’s not feasible for the head office to know all the ins and outs of each specific location. So how do you ensure that everyone is able to get the support they need to make the right decisions for the company as well as for their individual restaurant, and be able to keep track of everyone’s response? Texas Roadhouse took full advantage of their IntranetPro intranet to empower operators.
The marketing and design teams created over 400 documents accessible on the intranet that operators can customize to their needs. Every operator can customize for their location everything from parking lot layout to pricing structure per location.
Operators are also empowered to share their ideas with the company via the intranet. For example, in addition to offering take out, Texas Roadhouse also started selling ready-to-grill steaks directly to the public and hosting farmer’s markets. This came out of ideas that were shared, developed, and implemented smoothly via the IntranetPro intranet.
Watch the On-demand Webinar Now!
Watch the webinar ‘Real-World Case Story: Crisis Communications at Texas Roadhouse’ to learn more about creating an effective internal and crisis communications plan.
Intranet Analytics for Crisis Communications
With the IntranetPro platform, you can easily track your intranet’s analytics. In time of crisis, this is especially important as you need to know how your employees are engaging with the content you’re posting. You can drill down into the most engaged users, departments, communities, and content, but even looking at engagement on a high level can be illuminating.
For example, Texas Roadhouse saw an almost 200% increase in engagement with their intranet content from February to March, with the most engaging content (not surprisingly) being the COVID-19 updates.
Surviving and Thriving Through a Crisis
Unlike many in their industry, Texas Roadhouse is currently doing very well. The company is opening new locations, and hedge funds are purchasing their stock at record rates. Through the pandemic, they’ve demonstrated how excellent crisis communications are key to surviving and thriving during difficult times.
“While this has been a challenging time for everyone, it really has highlighted how useful our intranet is,” Norton explains. “This has really set our team, the communications team, up for success in utilizing the intranet for the future too.”
Learn More by Watching the On-Demand Internal & Crisis Communications Webinars
Taking this example into consideration when developing your own crisis communications strategy will help you get as prepared as possible before the next crisis occurs. Whether you are just starting to build your playbook, or are looking to improve an existing one, check out the on-demand webinar series aimed at helping you achieve crisis and internal communications success!
Throughout the webinar series, we’re joined by a panel of industry experts as we take a dive deep into internal communications and crisis communications strategy to highlight insights and tools to set your organization up for success.