In this global pandemic era, we’ve all seen how important it is for businesses to communicate and act quickly in response to a crisis. The ones who have most successfully navigated this time likely had a solid crisis plan at the ready.
For example, both OSHA and NRCA quickly established COVID-19 resource pages to continuously provide relevant safety, health and financial information to contractors. ABC Supply created a similar COVID-19 resource page to share company updates and other helpful information with customers.
COVID-19 won’t be the last unexpected event to impact your business. It’s crucial that you are prepared for what’s next, whether it’s an employee injury or fatality, jobsite accident, natural disaster or something else entirely unforeseen that disrupts operations.
Do you have a crisis management plan in place? If you do, how long has it been since it was refreshed? Now is the perfect time to work on your plan, as the learnings we’re all seeing in real time can be used to inform best practices for crisis management.
Here are the most important steps and principles to help you successfully navigate crises and keep your business reputation intact.
1. Have an Adaptable Plan in Place
As a roofing or contractor business, you likely already know the value of having a safety plan in the event of jobsite accidents. Taking the time now or during the off-season to create a crisis plan is crucial. Here are a few questions your team can start off with as you develop a plan:
- What are the possible crises our business could face?
- What is the system and order of communication in the event of a crisis?
- Who do we want on-site?
- Who will be our spokesperson?
- How will we notify employees?
Once you have a plan that you feel comfortable with and that answers your most looming questions, make sure it’s adaptable enough to fit multiple kinds of crises. Then you will be able to make a few small tweaks to fit any situation that arises.
2. Train Your Team
Not only should your management team know the immediate steps of action in a crisis, but all of your employees should be trained to identify potential crises. Spotting an issue early on can help mitigate both the issue and the need to enact the full-blown crisis plan. Consider covering an employee’s role amidst a disaster during onboarding or ongoing training opportunities.
To ensure your entire team knows what to do in a crisis, hold annual practice drills. Pretend a crisis has occurred and execute the plan — assuring that each step is followed correctly, in order and by the right people.
3. Move Quickly and Craft Your Response
One of the most important things during a crisis is to move quickly in telling your story first so that you maintain control of it. If you don’t, someone else will likely tell it for you. Part of your pre-established plan should include the first statements you make, internally and externally.
If you don’t have a crisis plan at the ready, you’ll need to develop your messages thoughtfully and quickly. Consider your stakeholders, your employees and your customers — how is your company keeping its existing promises? How does the situation at hand impact them? Are you making any adjustments that they need to be aware of? How do you make sure your message is consistent?
Having well-established relationships with local media will also come in handy during a crisis. Take the time to develop those relationships now so they are strong when you need a direct line to the public.
4. Be Honest Throughout the Crisis
Transparency is key during a crisis. While you may not be able to share every detail at every turn, communicate what you can in ways that are sensitive to the people being impacted by the situation. Maintain an authentic tone, knowing when to show empathy, concern and compassion. This may seem small, but it makes the biggest difference and can be the best way for you to establish your business’s values moving forward.
5. Evaluate the Plan Continually
As you carry out your crisis plan, take note of what is working well and what could be improved upon. Are the steps working? How is the public reacting? Your customers? Employees? Post-crisis, you can also reevaluate the plan to determine what worked and what didn’t to make sure that you’re ready for the next crisis that comes your way.
The way your business responds when times are tough will have a major, long-term impact on how it is perceived by your customers, your employees and your community. Invest in your business’s success by taking the time to plan for the unexpected now. You’ll not only be better prepared for the next crisis; you’ll also be building a stronger foundation for its future.
Find out other ways you can manage your business during uncertain times on the ABC Supply blog.