With current petrol price hikes, higher grain, and cooking oil prices to come, and other unpredictable events, what do you have in place to cater for the impact a crisis may have on your business and customers? Do your margins allow you some room to adapt? Is your team aware of what to do in a time of crisis? Do you even have a crisis plan? If the answer is no, then let’s explore what your next steps should be.
1. Ensure your crisis management plan has clear objectives
This can be an anxiety-inducing exercise but, in the end, it will give you some control amid unpredictable events. Your first step is to think about which objectives you want to achieve. Is it to strengthen your cash flow during a slow period? Is it the desire to avoid retrenchments? Could there be a higher (or lower) demand for your product or service that you need to financially cater for during a crisis?
And what about after the crisis is over? What then? How will you go about bringing back a sense of normalcy? How will this work operationally? Who will do what, and when? A thorough crisis management plan leaves no question unanswered. So, begin by clearly defining your objectives and mapping out how to achieve them.
2. Crisis management is a team effort
You can’t designate the execution of crisis management to one person. As you’re finetuning your plan, you need the input of your EXCO and key staff members. This way, your plan has a shot of realistically working. Make sure that your plan has at least one dedicated person for each function, so that in the event of a crisis, all functions will simultaneously perform their required actions instead of having to wait for you to give them permission. Imagine having a fire erupt in your workplace but expecting your operations people to wait for you to tell them when to switch off vital machinery. So, not only will this save you critical time, but it’ll also make sure that each employee is accounted for and that no one is left behind.
3. Communication channels
Your plan needs to clearly define how employees will be notified of a crisis, regardless of what that crisis may be. How will they be told what is happening and what they need to do? You must have more than one way of communicating in case your suggested method becomes invalid during a crisis. For example, you can’t plan to send a company-wide email if the crisis happens during an electricity black-out, nor can you rely on just shouting “Get out of the building” to your staff.
You need to carefully consider which methods will be best for your business. It’ll also be beneficial to periodically evaluate these methods so that nobody’s caught off-guard when your plan needs to be executed.
4. Plan for the aftermath
Remember having fire drills at school and how that interruption took forever to recover from? Your teacher had to pick up where they left off, but your adrenalin and attention span wouldn’t make it easy to refocus.
The same thing will be true if you have a crisis at work, but this time, you lose focus and money. You want to plan for business continuity as soon as you can after a crisis. Your crisis management plan should prioritise your staff’s safety first, obviously, but it also needs to get operations back up and running as soon as possible. Plan how soon your IT recovery team can get involved and how to get your business operations running again.
5. Long-term strategy
It takes such tremendous effort to create a crisis management plan, that the last thing you want to do after all that investment, is to complete it and do nothing else. It’s important to continuously keep your plan updated as part of a long-term strategy. Keeping your plan as current as possible will go a long way to ensuring that your plan runs efficiently. You also want to have continuous training for this so that your staff is confident about their next steps instead of being panicked should the unthinkable happen. The last thing you want to find out is that your plan is insufficient during a crisis in progress.
The bottom line
Creating a Crisis Management Plan is a terrific way to help your business bounce back after something unexpected happens. Not only will it give you a clear direction in a time of unpredictability, but it’ll also give you a chance to bounce back faster after a crisis.
To fund your crisis management plan, contact Merchant Capital and fund your business in the next 48 hours.