Don’t panic, but crisis planning should be at the forefront of every business owner’s mind. Being aware of what could potentially go wrong in your business will help you be prepared should disaster strike. What types of disasters are we talking about here? It’s the bad stuff: fires, earthquakes, violent storms, workplace violence, bomb threats, etc.
Ultimately, crisis planning will allow an organization to react and respond to any type of disaster smoothly and will help business owners protect what is most important: their business, their employees, and their customers.
When your business is small, it could be easier to avoid. It’s kind of like a young, healthy person needing to purchase health insurance. Their health is so good that it’s rare they will use the insurance and hate to pay the expense.
Businesses may avoid crisis planning for several reasons: an organization has an “it couldn’t happen to us” attitude; managers are unaware of the risks involved in their industry; managers ignore warning signs, whether it’s from direct experience or from a competitor.
Crisis planning is the best way to protect your business, your customers, and support your employees when the you-know-what hits the fan. Are you ready to get started on your plan? Here are four steps you need to take in order to create a solid crisis plan for your organization.
Build Your Planning Team
Gather management and your team’s key players to develop a schedule and set a budget.
Analyze Potential Roadblocks and Dangers
Set up meetings with the necessary outside groups – government agencies, community organizations, utilities – and identify any federal, state, and local regulations your organization needs to comply with, such as OSHA or fire codes. Spend some time identifying internal and external resources, and then estimate the probability for a crisis and its potential impact.
Another thing to consider is outsourcing help with your phones. We work with a number of clients that outsource their crisis lines and overnight calls to us. It saves them money and gives them the peace of mind that a highly-trained and knowledgeable staff is on the other end of the line for their customers.
Create the Plan
Time to put it to paper. Start the process of developing your organization’s emergency response procedures, and then establish a training schedule for all pertinent staff.
Put Your Plan Into Action
Finally, integrate your crisis plan as a part of your organization’s policies.
You have your plan and that is a huge start. Now it’s time to decide on the people who will put the plan in action should a crisis arise. A disaster plan cannot be executed if no one knows who is handling which task or isn’t sure who is speaking to which audience.
Assigning roles in a crisis management team will help dispatch the message and make communication flow much more smoothly in the event disaster strikes.
We’ve created a handy chart! Here are the key players you should include and their roles.
Need more help getting your plan created? Ready.gov has tons of tips for building a crisis plan that even includes scripts for speaking to different audiences.
Every business – regardless of size – needs to be prepared should a crisis arise. It’s easier to believe that things won’t go wrong for your business than it is to take the time to build a plan. Yet, having a plan in place will save you time and confusion when that crisis does rear its ugly head.