Crisis management you may ask, why do I need to worry about that? What does crisis management have to do with your company marketing your business? Lack of a crisis management plan could potentially cost your firm everything if you are not concerned with mitigating damage during a crisis in a proactive fashion.

 A well-designed crisis management plan is your PR plan in action. Dealing in a positive manner in a crisis situation can help manage the image of your business with your customers, employees and the community.

 A crisis could be anything from a natural disaster, a drastic regulatory change, an employee or customer safety or health issue etc. You need to have a working plan in place to make sure that your business is as prepared as possible for any foreseeable crisis. The idea I am impressing upon you is to be proactive, not reactive.

 5 Tips for Effective Emergency Preparedness Planning

 Eric White who serves as Director of Retail Strategy for Wren, a provider of physical security solutions provides 5 general steps that you can use to create the crisis management plan for your business. The nature of these steps are more relevant in the case of a natural disaster, however these tips are able to be used as guidelines in the case of a safety and/or health issue, or an employee/staff crisis.

 1. Put Safety First – The safety and health of customers and employees must be ensured by being the top priority.  Safety preparedness must be focused on all possible crisis scenarios. You must plan for all types of disasters and have policies and procedures in place that will save lives if need be.

 2. Empower People and Communicate Priorities –  In a crisis, immediate decisions are required. Your company will need to clearly and simply communicate your company priorities and response to employees and the community. These priorities would  be safety of personnel, employee communications and re-opening your store – in that order. White adds that you will need to provide leeway to your staff to make decisions when decisions are critical. Employees have a positive impact on the front-lines in a crisis situation and help your company stand-out.

 3. Plan vs. Planning – White adds, “In order to be truly effective, plans need to be put into action by taking what is on paper and putting it to use through testing, training and communication.

 4. Business Continuity – Don’t be concerned with the public perceiving you as insensitive about getting your business back up and running in response to the crisis situation. On the contrary, retail businesses offer critical goods and services to the community. This is true only after safety and health concerns have been mitigated. Getting your business back up and running helps in the long-term because you are providing jobs and revenue to the community. White adds, “Good continuity planning requires cooperation from all facets of the retail operation.

 5. Select the Right Decision-Makers – In a crisis situation you as the business owner may not be the best decision-maker. When it comes to dealing effectively in a crisis there is a difference in the skill set between business  decision-making and being able to make a decision in a crisis. In a crisis, information is limited and inaccurate. Decisions need to be made quickly. That is why in these situations the best people equipped to make crucial decisions are operational staff – professionals that are able to remain calm and make difficult decisions when there are few good options.

In the September 2010 edition of Quality Progress an article titled “Expert Answers” ended up as a great resource. The article summarizes a crisis management plan dealing with a crisis other than a natural disaster in a very direct manner. The article states, “If the plan does not involve owning up to the problem, performing thorough root cause analysis and addressing the causes; it will have an adverse impact on quality and customer loyalty.

Check out the links below for more useful sources about the importance of crisis management planning.

Steve Whitaker
Steve’s Light Bulb Moments LLC


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