As the global print industry struggles to navigate the new reality caused by COVID-19, APTech wants you to know that our only priority right now is to support you and your team.
Advance planning is always best, but there’s no time like now to develop a plan if your business doesn’t already have one. To help you get started, APTech has developed a four-part series on how to conduct business and use the time to your benefit during a crisis. In addition, save time and take advantage of our free, downloadable pdf template that will help you build your own disaster recovery plan.
1. Creating a Disaster Response and Recovery Plan
The best time to plan a crisis response is in advance because reacting without one will only make the residual impact worse.
In our experience, most people will resist taking the time to proactively plan their response. It’s not fun and there always seems to be something more pressing. Like an insurance policy, the payoff only happens when you’ve been hit with a disaster.
The following suggestions are not intended to be comprehensive, but more to get you off to a solid start. Every company needs customized plans based on their unique needs. Here are some basics:
You need to keep an updated list in order to effectively communicate with key stakeholders. The list should include all full-and part-time staff with their home addresses, home phone numbers, personal emails, and cell phone numbers. Go ‘old school’ and establish a “phone tree” protocol for the contact process.
Be sure to include contact information for police, fire, hazmat, EMS, insurance companies, all customers and vendors as well as office service providers such as cleaning companies, delivery services and anyone else who visits your office regularly. (we will discuss the how and the why-for planned communications in section 2).
Disaster Guidelines and Procedures
Just like when you were in public school, familiarize your entire staff with what to do in case of a disaster and practice them. Elements should include –
- Evacuation plans – for every facility!
- Catastrophic weather – how and when plant/office closings will be communicated.
- Terrorist threats – unfortunately we have reached the point where we need to plan for these.
- Health crisis – COVID -19 is teaching us the need for proactively planned responses.
- Insurance claim responsibilities.
Inventory all equipment, furniture, and company assets
This should be Standard Operating Procedure. Companies should maintain a record of all purchases (usually a copy of the receipt) that shows the price, date of purchase, and in some cases a photo – these documents should be stored offsite.
It's also a good idea to distribute multiple copies of your crisis management plans to your senior leaders. They can keep one to keep in the office, one in their cars, and one at home. Time spent planning now will be an investment well made.
Again, this is intended to only be a start to your planning process. To submit more ideas email us at firstname.lastname@example.org so we can share.
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2. Effective Communications Are Critically Important
In our first installment, we discussed the importance of developing a Disaster Response and Recovery Plan…before a disaster strikes. The reality is that successful execution of the plan will require effective communication. In fact, effective communication during a disaster may be the most important element in survival and recovery.
Over communicate…early and often
Keep in mind that normal channels of communication may not be available, so your plan should include contingency options. This is where that contact list of key stakeholders becomes critically important. In anticipation of a crisis, you need to communicate all the steps required to appropriately prepare and plan for business continuation. During the duration of the crisis check in frequently with staff. Remain calm, instill confidence in your plan, be prepared to make adjustments and above all be empathic. Your first concern needs to be the safety and health of your team. As you approach the end of the crisis, shift your communication focus to recovery. Again, follow the steps you carefully developed in your plan.
Remember, the psychological well-being of your staff is as important as their physical well-being
Working in isolation can be difficult for some. Over extended periods depression can occur. Consider developing a “phone buddy” system that drives regular pre-assigned contact between staff members.
One more thing…by definition, effective communication involves listening as well as speaking
Your listening skills will be critically important during this period. You need to take the temperature of your team to assess their attitude and emotions. “Seek first to understand before being understood.”
3. It’s Time to “Weed the Garden”
This is both a major health crisis and a major financial crisis. Let’s focus for a moment on the financial side of things. We should all be anticipating a drop in incoming orders. In addition, we may be seeing some existing orders pulled back, delayed or cancelled. Work volume is a major concern, but we should consider some counterintuitive advice.
Now is the time to “weed your customer garden”
Most of us have customers that drive little or no ROI to our bottom lines. We consider this filler work that helps to smooth the ebb and flow of business volume. Or, we have the very large customer that has leveraged our pricing to the point that it may, or may not, cover our costs. These large customers are often prone to acting as if they are part owners and are often difficult for customer service reps to manage. Now is the time to “weed” these problem accounts out of your customer base. They eat up too much time, material and attention without providing commensurate value. You may be considering the need to reduce staff. You don’t want to waste your reduced staff resources on bad customers. Dedicate all you have to growing your relationship with your most desirable customers.
While you’re at it. Take a hard look at your policies and procedures. Chances are there are more than a few that need to be updated or eliminated.
Now is the time for a thorough Spring Cleaning of your customer base, your policies and procedures, and your staffing.
Tough work for tough times.
4. Finding the Opportunities
In times of crisis most are inclined to hit the pause button and wait for signs of the return to normalcy. But while you’re hunkering down, your more aggressive competitors are hard at work finding ways to identify and exploit opportunities.
In times of disruption, markets are ripe with opportunity. This is the ideal time to get closer to your customers to discover new and better ways to serve them. Chances are they will be more receptive than ever to share their most pressing needs. Be a problem solver.
Beyond finding ways to better serve your customers, look for ways to serve your community
Step up and use the creativity of your team to develop and execute initiatives to serve the community where you work and live. Expand your impact beyond your customer base. Practice “servant leadership”, it is highly likely that your efforts won’t go unnoticed.
These are stressful times that bring out both the best and worst in us. Pay close attention to the “better angels of your nature” by going beyond what comes easily or naturally and be your best self.
We hope that this short “Disaster Recovery Series” has gotten you to think about how to keep going forward and looking towards the future. Let us know what you thought and if there is more we can do to help you successfully navigate this challenging period and return to positive and productive times.
Contact us at email@example.com.