How To Reduce Business Downtime During A Crisis
There are many circumstances that can wreak havoc on your business, such as natural disasters, loss of major customers, death or loss of key employees, theft, public health disasters, etc.
These situations can easily lead to financial distress, causing various routines, rules, procedures, and methods that you’ve established over the years to stop working.
Managing a business is tough, even more so when you’re dealing with a crisis. As a company leader, you’ll be expected to do everything you can to help your organization survive.
The good news is that no matter the nature of the problem that your business is facing, you have the capacity to successfully ride out the downturn and handle it with professional finesse.
There are things that you can put in place to ensure that even in the face of disasters and other emergencies, your operations can go on as normally as possible, and the overall effect on your business is greatly lessened.
1. Reassess employee work conditions and availability
Even as you hope that the crisis is only temporary, you need to make sure that you’re optimizing your workforce so that everyone is making a meaningful contribution to the survival of the business.
Now is the time you’ll discover whether you have the right people on your team. If your staff or team members are not ready to step up and carry the organization into recovery, the chances of you making it out are slim to none.
Make sure everyone’s talents are being used to their full potential. If there are departments that don’t have a lot to do due to the crisis, put them to work assisting other departments that are overwhelmed.
For instance, sales staff may not be able to go on sales calls or carry out other activities that drive their operations, but they can be trained to offer customer support in the meantime.
Think about ways that you can help your workers maintain productivity and efficiency. More than ever, a crisis is when they’ll need your support the most.
2. Switch to remote work using tech to resume some aspects of the business
If anything affects your business premises or prevents your employees from showing up to work, would you still be able to keep your operations going?
Gone are the days when companies had no choice but to rely on a physical office alone. You need to think about implementing remote work so that your business can carry on even when your office is out of action.
Think about how you can digitize certain aspects and improve the efficiency of your business using technology and automation.
A good place to start is by taking your IT systems to the cloud, so your business operations aren’t location-dependent.
This way, your staff can keep on working from wherever they are for as long as it takes for normal operations to resume.
They won’t need to jump through hoops to access the information and other services they use at the office.
Invest in the right tools to enable your personnel to collaborate virtually and identify workarounds for critical tasks that cannot be executed remotely.
When working remotely, make sure to emphasize active communication and set clear expectations.
Everyone needs to know what they’re expected to do and the timeline for doing it.
Your employees might need to be trained on how to conduct themselves while working away from the office, to enhance their preparedness and productivity, answer any questions they might have, and alleviate their concerns about this new reality.
Keep in mind that remote work is not a viable option for all businesses. You’ll need to take a look at your organization and figure out if it’ll be possible to implement it.
3. Redistribute the workload and focus on core competencies
During an economic downturn or crisis, there’s going to be some parts of your business that might crawl to a halt.
Unfortunately, there’s not a lot that you can do to change this. However, you can restructure your workload and KPIs to concentrate on the activities that you can still carry out.
If there are any products or services that are not adding value to your business, cut them out. You cannot afford to waste time, money, and other resources on things that are not positively impacting your business.
Focus on what you do best. Are there any profitable projects that you can embark on or complete? What is currently driving revenue for your company?
Direct your efforts towards those activities and drop all the extras. When things return to normal, you can revisit them.
4. Leverage your existing assets and resources
It’s important to have a clear understanding of what assets and resources you have and how they might be impacted by the crisis or used to ameliorate the situation.
Part of developing an effective strategy to reduce business downtime during a crisis is to perform a comprehensive review of your existing assets.
Knowing what you have and where it means that you’ll be able to keep track of essential assets you need to continue working, identify gaps or weaknesses in your operations, and suggest solutions to patch these vulnerabilities.
For instance, if your business has a couple of unused monitors, you can give it to employees to help support their remote work instead of wasting money on buying new ones.
By prioritizing asset management, you’ll have a good record of what you own. You’ll be able to predict problematic periods or areas, and other issues, so that you can prepare and adjust on time to minimize business downtime.
Ask yourself: what do company personnel and customers need most right now? How can you use your current assets to fulfill those needs?
5. Focus on serving your existing customers
It costs a lot less to get your current customers to buy from you again than to find and win new customers.
During a crisis, getting new customers is going to be harder than ever for many businesses. However, you can still generate more sales by shifting your focus to established customers.
It’s important that you keep your customers happy to retain their business.
Provide excellent customer service. Identify their needs and satisfy them. Be transparent and authentic about what you’re doing to serve them as best as you can.
Show your customers that you care. Continue to maintain a strong relationship with them directly, through newsletters, or using social media. Let them know how they can support your business in return.
During a crisis, one of the most important things a business can do is to ensure that its employees and customers are taken care of.
By having processes in place and making the right moves, you’ll have a better chance of not only surviving the difficult time but also thriving.
Evaluate your talent, review your work processes, audit and manage your assets, and figure out what is truly necessary to run your business.
Ashley Wilson is a digital nomad writing about business and tech. She takes care of the content for one of the biggest utility software providers, Solvusoft. Thanks to her tech knowledge, she creates numerous articles and guides that help users troubleshoot Windows software issues. You can get in touch with Ashley via Twitter.