A success story from Charlie Ehler.

Charlie Ehler

Charlie is the Educational Content Creator for the contemporary bar and restaurant, Bar Louie. Hot dog as a sandwich theorist, closet piano player and stoke generator.

We asked Charlie to share his thoughts on content creation because we find his approach to be both unique and very effective. In his own words, this is how he attacks his work.

Working for Bar Louie has been one of the greatest challenges I’ve ever faced. When you give your all to something, sometimes half of the challenge is trying to keep it the same. Why accept change when you might be changing something you love? At times, taking a position to run our LMS almost seemed like too much of a change. I suddenly found myself in charge of actively evolving our brand while also knowing that no matter what, we could not stray from our core. We could not lose the main values that brought us together.

So I said, “Challenge accepted!”

My first real test was finances (or lack thereof). Our investment in Wisetail as our LMS – basically as soon as I took the job – was so new, that we had to experiment with the position before we knew what to budget for content. So I had to get creative. Thinking outside the box was an understatement. Luckily, this actually played into the hands of the Bar Louie training mentality. Our core demographic of employees (21-30 year olds) would bristle at “professional training.” If it looked, smelled, or even remotely felt like corporate training – I knew I would turn off 3⁄4 of our team members. We started creating what we call “guerrilla-style” training material* which aligned perfectly with the Bar Louie worldview. We were able to keep our standards (always wearing gloves, specked out food, buttoned-up employees) while keeping the culture of our brand (freedom within a framework & rock star mentality).

With the Wisetail LMS as an internal channel to our community, the possibilities were endless. Once we decided that the production value could be no more than a cell phone and whatever knowledge found in a quick Google search, there was no stopping us. No idea was off limits. We were able to make up for lower film quality with higher content quality. Any internet meme or popular culture idea was suddenly within reach and very engaging for our audience. I was also lucky in that I personally fit the same demographic we were trying to reach. I made what I wanted to see myself and this opened the door for content. So much of our paper-based training was informative but when I found myself reviewing it, it needed some oomph! This was important info, but it was delivered incorrectly. Imagine talking all of the same content you dish out every year and repackaging it to fit your audience. Of course, some training content should always be evolving, but when it comes to 401k training, workers’ comp, and new menu rollouts, the delivery is what makes it fresh. This thinking is where our most important training breakthrough came.

Have you ever hidden medicine in your dog’s food because even though it was necessary, they wouldn’t take it on their own? We took this same approach to make training more appealing and empathetic to our employees (although a training ‘sneak attack’ is the only comparison we can make between our Team Members and dogs). Our most successful pet projects (pun intended) involved videos of our Vice President of Beverage traveling the country and meeting with our company’s beverage reps. These videos were around five to eight minutes of him eating, drinking, and having some fun. If you were to ask an hourly employee who watched one of those videos what they just watched (and we did), their answers were very interesting: “Besides the fact that I’m now jealous of a Vice President, we got to watch him get drunk.” “It’s pretty cool to see and connect with a VP. Almost seems like I was on the trip with him.”

If my boss had seen those answers, I might’ve been out of a job. It wasn’t until we changed the question, that we found the job saving answers and true magic behind our approach:

After an episode features his visit to a winery:

Q: What wines would you pair with which food item?

A: “Soul Sister Pinot Noir would be GREAT with our Blackened Salmon Sliders. I can’t wait to try that!”

After his visit to a vodka distillery:

Q: What can you tell me about this liquor?

A: “Although Tito’s Vodka is better known, a more cost effect yet better vodka is called Deep Eddy and it’s distilled 4 more times! Plus it’s made right in the heart of Austin, TX.”

I was very excited about the last answers because when I go out and ask about a menu item, I don’t want an uptight list of ingredients. That’s boring, not fun, and isn’t what we stand for at Bar Louie. I want every question a guest asks to set off different talking points authentic to the person they’re asking. I’d much rather have a team member detail how The coupe glass that this martini comes in is actually nicknamed a Marie Antoinette Glass and legend has it the glass itself may be modeled after her personal curvature.. in response to a question about martinis. While this answer dances close to the edge and tells me NOTHING about the drink itself, I’m hooked. This can’t be stressed enough: It’s all about the delivery.

I’m lucky to have a job I’ve had a hand in creating – from the made up position (Educational Content Creator) to the specifics. As a creator (ok so I don’t think that highly of myself) I’ve noticed that the content I create is as important as the way it’s delivered. Once you take that approach you’ve added a ton of value because no matter what company you’re working for, you can find the right delivery to match up with your culture. If we lined up our content side-by-side, yours would look very different than mine at Bar Louie – and that’s great. Because it’s supposed to connect with your people, not me. When you’re thinking about content creation, keep your core values intact and use creativity when delivering your message to your core audience.

*Guerilla-style” training material is pseudo-documentary style videos filmed on smart phones featuring Bar Louie employees. The end product is a little rough around the edges, fun, funny, and is quickly taken from idea to final product.

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