As the owner of an SME, you probably have a lot of things to worry about, and not enough people to delegate those things to. Running the business on a day to day basis is challenging enough, but have you ever stopped to think about what you’d do in an emergency?
Over the past year or so, it’s not only been a challenging economic climate, but the actual climate has also played a part. Floods and heavy snow fall saw parts of the country completely cut off and shut down. The riots, which broke out in several major cities, saw local businesses taking a battering at the hands of raiders and thieves. These events were completely unforeseen and sadly crippled many businesses.
It is during crises such as these that business continuity management and crisis management planning really come in useful. In the middle of a crisis you should be able to operate in accordance to your brand values. The single most damaging thing that could happen would be for your clients and customers to see that your company values are actually hollow and have no substance behind them.
What Could You Do In A Crisis?
Instead of asking employees to trek through miles of treacherous snow and ice, or risk life and limb battling through angry rioters, why not let people work from home? Modern telephone systems and computer software offer many useful features for home workers. Some suites even include video chat, whiteboards, file sharing and remote collaboration tools.
Of course, the above features are only useful if people know that they can make use of them. A big part of crisis management includes making plans for a variety of scenarios and situations. You can’t foresee everything, but you can have a plan in place that states that employees are permitted to make use of home working tools if there is a major disruption to public transport, or delays due to extreme weather conditions.
Of course, there’s more to handling emergencies than just making sure that your staff are able to log in to the required systems remotely. A business doesn’t just have staff; it has customers too! What would you do if there was a fire or a break-in at your office and you weren’t able to have staff taking calls? Well, that’s another case for looking into crisis communications systems. The ability to quickly and efficiently deal with any problems that may arise as a result of a crisis is vital.
For example, a modern telephone system would come in useful as you will be able to rapidly change the recorded message on your phones. This is invaluable as you could redirect your customers to your website if your physical shop or office has been closed, and offer them an alternative contact number to ensure that even whilst you’re experiencing some down time, they can still get the support they need.
Why Crisis Management?
Your crisis management strategy doesn’t need to cover every eventuality, but it’s a good idea to think about what you’d do in a few “worst case scenarios” – for example, fire, theft, illness, and extreme weather. You want to make sure that your staff and customers are kept informed as to what’s going on. You’ll also want to ensure that the Inland Revenue knows about any problems you’re having.
During the riots in London, several small businesses lost not only stock, but vital records to looters, and to fire damage. The HMRC have said that they will be as understanding as possible, as long as those businesses inform them as soon as possible about the extent of the damage. Sadly, crisis management planning can’t do much about senseless destruction, but it should put you in a good position for picking yourself up, dusting yourself off and carrying on.
This article was written by Crispin Jones on behalf of Insignia Comms, providers of crisis management planning and training.