Your business will not always run smoothly. Disasters will strike, interruptions in services you rely on will happen, and other small things will go wrong. To run your business well, like a good Boy Scout, you need to be prepared. You need to have a business contingency plan that enables you to continue to serve customers and get paid.
Explain What is Happening
A few weeks ago, I went to Rudy’s, my favorite barbecue restaurant, for lunch. While waiting in line, I noticed that something was different. The cooler that usually was stuffed with cole slaw and potato salad was empty, and all the bottled drinks were blocked off.
As I approached the front of the line, I could hear the cashiers explaining the situation. They had lost power and while the lights had come back on, they were still unable to serve some foods.
Remember that when something is broken in your business, explain that to customers so they will be more understanding of the situation.
Have a Business Contingency Plan to Serve Customers
Rudy’s could have just closed their doors the day the power went out. However, they had a business contingency plan that allowed them to continue to serve customers.
The restaurant staff knew how to operate without electricity or right after the power came back on. They prepared the foods that were cooked on the fire and saved the refrigerated items for resale.
Unless you were really paying attention, Rudy’s looked like it did on any other day.
Encourage the Customer Behavior You Need
When your business is missing the necessary utilities, supplies, or services to run properly, you can likely still limp along to serve customers. However, there will likely be a path of least resistance you can follow that will make life easier for you in the interim.
When I approached the cashier, he told me that because of the power outage, they had a lunch special for $5 (which was a good deal for what you got). I could get that standard meal (not typically offered other days), or go with what I’d regularly order and pay typical prices.
Almost every customer I watched got the special $5 meal. This was cheaper for the customer and easier for the staff to process with their register systems down.
In a business contingency plan for your company, what special offers could you give customers to facilitate transactions?
Continue to Collect Payment
I ordered my food and was told my total was $10 for the two lunches I ordered. When I handed the cashier my credit card, he pulled out an old carbon copy credit card form to fill out. I told him not to worry about it and paid cash instead.
Nevertheless, if all I had available was a credit card, they would have processed my purchase (even if it was the old fashioned way.)
Your company needs to consider how you will get paid in a business contingency plan. What forms of payment will you accept? Will you simply bill the customer later or take alternative forms of payment?
Every Company Needs a Business Contingency Plan
Plan ahead while everything is running smoothly in your business. By putting in place a business contingency plan, you’ll be ready for the unexpected and will be able to serve customers and still make sales.