No one likes to think of the worst happening, especially entrepreneurs who are generally focused on positively talking about and promoting their business to customers, suppliers and investors. Something I learnt first hand when two of my restaurants were flooded and closed in just 24 hours. The truth we know that bad things can and do happen in the restaurant industry, and that a situation can be made far, far worse if it hasn't been handled correctly. Shockingly, fifty one percent of companies admit to not having thought through their crisis planning. Don't be one of those business leaders who is sailing a little too close to the wind - get a solid crisis management plan in place - your business could one day depend on it.
Formalise Your Risk Assessment
Knowing how to handle the risks your restaurant is running comes from understanding exactly what those risks really are. Begin with a risk assessment, which will help you to systematically identify potential events which could have a devastating impact on your business function and processes. Involve your staff and key stakeholders in your planning, and get them to help identify all the pertinent threats. This could be anything from a PR mistake to natural disasters, product recalls, supplier collapse, data security breaches, funding withdrawals and more. Try to work your way through possible scenarios logically.
Assess The Business Impact
For each of these scenarios, you then need to cut to the heart of what the real impact would be on your business. Some disasters could happen and have less impact than you may at first assume, while other, seemingly minor gaffes could turn really nasty as they develop. List out all of the factors which may result from these - customer loss or dissatisfaction, damage to your professional reputation, lost sales or increased expenses through factors such as paying for overtime, or even regulatory fines.
Make Some Contingency Plans
Once you have a fuller picture of the potential risks facing your business, you can start to identify what actions would be the most timely and appropriate to make in each scenario. Solving a crisis is a matter of taking logical steps in sequence. Whether it's issuing communications to inform your customers of what is happening, or sourcing generators to keep your output consistent, work out what you need to do to maintain as close to a regular service as you can. Allocate resources, and employee roles in each given situation, so that you have a precise plan of action. Think across all angles - you may need to issue statements across your social media platforms, brief a customer service team on how to respond to incoming calls, source support from IT and logistics or look for new temporary premises. Once the skeleton of a plan is in place, you can add in flesh on the bones of it by consulting again with the relevant stakeholders. You may also need to work with partners and contractors whose support would be required should one of your projected crises actually occur. Once the plan is in place, notify everyone who it may affect, make sure they are aware of the plan and in receipt of any relevant training.
Main Image Credit