Communication is critical in any thriving business. Good communication improves workflow, smooths operations, and keeps everyone safe. Inadequate communication endangers all of those things, including your workers.
Using radio equipment the right way addresses this issue. Knowing how to make the best out of walkie-talkies and radios is vital to success. Proper radio etiquette, training, and using radio for day-to-day operations make a difference.
The peace of mind you get when workers can reach you or each other with minimal hassle is huge. As long as you keep your radios in good working order and charge the batteries, you’ll be in good shape. Read our guide below for a rundown of 10 tips for using radio equipment for your business.
1. Have Proper Radio Etiquette
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The first thing you should do is establish proper radio etiquette. Many businesses develop their own conventions. That said, most adhere to a few basic principles.
For starters, every broadcast should start with the speaker identifying themselves. This isn’t always necessary if the business only has 2 or 3 employees using that radio, but it makes things smoother. Often different employees will need to use the radio for a specific reason.
Next, you should get into the habit of ending transmissions with “over.”. Saying “roger,” “say again,” or “stand by” might sound like something out of a movie, but this lingo is useful and universally recognized.
Finally, if using standard two-way radios, you need to remember that only one person can talk on that channel at a time. As long as you press the button, you can speak but not receive a reply. This is why “over” is so useful because it lets the other person know they can speak.
2. Don’t Interrupt Transmissions
Because of how two-way radios work, you should be careful never to interrupt transmission. The only exception is if it’s an absolute emergency. In that case, begin your interrupting transmission with “break, break.”
This lets everyone know you’re interrupting the previous communication. It also stops one of the original parties from confusing your message with a reply.
3. Consider Range and Battery
You should always consider the range and battery when it comes to hand held radios. There’s nothing more annoying or dangerous than having workers go radio silent. If your business contains dead spots, you need to map and address them.
If the range is an issue, you may need to upgrade to more powerful radios. Radios with easy-to-slot detachable batteries are also a good idea. Keep a row of them always charged or charging, and ask staff to take a spare with them for the day.
4. Consider Multiple Channels
Standard CB radio equipment works over short distances and on around 40 channels at close to 27 MHz. While it might not be necessary to use all 40 channels, you should consider using more than 1. Again this tip will scale with the size and complexity of your business and how many employees there are.
For large-scale operations, it’s a good idea to designate channels for different purposes. Supervisors or managers might have their own devices to be easy to reach. Mechanics or on-service personal might have a separate channel, as would general workers.
The goal is to avoid cluttering the airwaves with crisscrossing messages. If someone needs to speak to a specific department or get the attention of a supervisor, they can switch to that specific channel.
5. Assess Your Radios Often
Another important tip is to assess your radios often. This means going beyond only checking to make sure the batteries are charging. Radios, like any other tech, can break down over time.
You need to maintain and service them regularly. A radio failure can be a serious safety concern, especially during emergencies. Being unable to understand a transmission or not receiving one because of a faulty handset is a huge issue.
Knowing about radio maintenance and repair is pretty important.
6. Train Your Staff
Don’t assume your staff knows how to use a radio. It’s something that takes practice and requires training. One example is that it takes about two full seconds after pressing the button for your voice to get transmitted.
This is a fact that takes getting used to. Many new radio users have their first few words cut off because they don’t hold the button long enough. Some of them also don’t realize that holding the button for too long drains the battery and stops others from talking.
When training your staff, make sure they practice proper radio etiquette and how to use the device. Go over how to switch channels and which channel is for which department or purpose. Make sure they know how to check and replace the battery too.
Don’t forget about your radio operators in the office or control room. They need training as well to make sure everything runs smoothly. By taking the initiative and ensuring everyone knows how to use their radio equipment, you’ll pre-empt future issues.
7. Others Can Hear You
This one can range from a little embarrassing to damaging. Everyone at your business should be aware that everyone can hear you. At least those tuned in to your channel and frequency anyway.
Citizen band radio, which most workplace two-ways use, isn’t secure either. This means that anyone within range can tap into and listen to your transmissions. This has the potential for corporate espionage written all over it.
However, confidential info won’t be broadcast on open-airwaves in most cases. It would get encrypted or secured and wouldn’t go over the radio, to begin with. The more significant risk is that strangers will hear things you don’t want them to.
Make sure workers know that radios aren’t like a private phone call. Their coworkers and supervisors will hear their transmissions, as could people passing by. You shouldn’t be using the radio only to chat about private matters, but it’s important to be aware anyway.
8. Keep Track of the Radios
You need to keep track of your equipment. Radios are expensive and super useful for day-to-day operations. They let workers report in from different locations.
This increases the speed and frequency of communication and helps ensure safety. If radios go missing, or you don’t know who has them, it creates a serious headache for operations. You should always know how many radios you have, how many are currently in use, who has them, and where they are.
For this reason, keeping a record is a good idea. Many businesses make employees sign out radios or have a supervisor do it. You should number the radios to make assigning and keeping track of them easier.
The point isn’t to micro-manage your workers or know where the radio is at all times. In a mobile workplace, that isn’t always possible. That said, you can know which worker had which radio on a given day and cross-reference where their job site was.
This makes recovering a lost or missing radio easier. If a worker forgot to give it back or left it in the changing room or lunchroom, you’ll know who to ask.
9. Check In Often
It’s good practice to schedule or plan routine check-ins throughout the day. This is especially the case if you know you’ll have staff working by themselves for any period. Someone could get injured or be unable to get to the radio to call for help.
A quick check-in lets everyone know things are fine. If radio silence is the reply, supervisors know it’s time to investigate. Employee safety is the top priority, so it’s best not to take chances.
Having a radio isn’t an excuse not to make your rounds or check-in person. Checking on staff out of the blue can be annoying for some employees, so the point isn’t to fluster them. Use your radio to get updates, make communication easier, and take a look around.
You might notice something a radio check-in would have missed.
10. Be Short and Sweet
The key to using radio communication equipment is to be short, sweet, and clear. Radios can be full of static, and loud noises could make understanding difficult. Having full-blown conversations is unadvisable, which is why radio operators use special lingo.
There’s also the fact that holding down the button stops others from communicating. For this reason, you should think about what you want to say before you push the button. Be as concise as possible and speak in a calm, clear, and methodical voice when transmitting.
Don’t shout, talk fast, or provide unnecessary details. If it’s an emergency matter or can’t wait, let the other party know so other arrangements can get made. It’s important to avoid clutter or misunderstandings while transmitting.
Business Tips for Using Radio Equipment
Every business is unique, but many benefit from using radios. It’s important to use radio equipment the right way to get the most out of it. Proper radio etiquette, maintenance, and training are only a few things to consider.
For more tips on using radios and similar topics, check out our site.