This week shifts to a topic that may be timely for some of you – handling a crisis – and serve as a wake-up call for those who have yet to establish strategies for dealing with the unexpected.
Let’s start with this question: What’s the worst thing that could happen to your business?
Would it be that your “trusted” bookkeeper embezzles a few hundred thousand dollars from your corporate treasury?
Would it be a significant manufacturing defect that causes customers to get hurt or sick because of your product?
Would it be a system malfunction that destroys your electronic customer database and financial records, including the back-up versions?
Those, to most of us, would be major catastrophes. A crisis of any size can catch you unprepared. You have no way of knowing when the unexpected will happen, but you can take the time now to think those eventualities through and develop a strategy for dealing with the unanticipated events that can have an impact on your business.
While there are people who insist you should only focus on the positive and ignore any negative impact on your business, that is a naïve approach. Stuff happens! If you are caught with your proverbial pants down, you are forced to scramble to come up with a way to brush off or embrace the embarrassment and get your pants back up again. If anyone has ever “pants’d” you in gym class, you know the feeling.
Coming up with strategies for dealing with crises in your business can be simple or a complicated process that takes time and, in many situations, suggests that you bring in a professional to help you strategize and then implement the plans should the occasion arise.
Here is an example: When I was going to take over management of a chamber of commerce, I received a call from a member of the board of directors. She wondered what they should do since the chairman had just been indicted on child pornography charges. Holy cow! The potential for a black eye for the chamber was significant. My advice was simple: Distance the organization from the individual and go low profile … immediately but temporarily.
The chairman wisely resigned from the board and by going low profile, the chamber was rarely mentioned in any media coverage about the allegations and subsequent trial. Low profile also meant the chamber had time to get its house in order and be prepared to come out stronger than ever when the wind blew over.
This type of incident may never happen to your business, but some other potentially disastrous event could cripple your business short, or long-term. There are steps you can take to deal with everything from active shooters to negative publicity from a competitor, but going through every scenario is only important if your business may be susceptible to the situation.
There are numerous solutions to the myriad scenarios that can occur – far too many to deal with in this limited space. Seek professional help to come up with the most viable and sensible strategies for addressing the highest potential threats to your operations, whether they seem insignificant or are potentially devastating.
You will rest easier knowing that, in the event disaster strikes, you have a plan to follow and steps to take in managing the crisis or, if nothing else, you know who you can call to help you out. Make sure your strategy is customer and employee friendly because people are what’s most important. Buildings and machines can be replaced.
It all starts by asking the basic question: What is the worst thing that could happen to your business?
If you initially answered fewer sales, there’s an answer for that crisis, too.
Brand Irons can help you create the solutions to sustain and protect your brand and your business.