Short Term Crisis Management For Long Term Benefit: 7 Practical Business Strategies for Coronavirus and Beyond
Most business crises only last for a few weeks or months. But they are rarely “short term”. The broader, long-term impacts of unforeseen adverse events can continue for years and even decades. The COVID-19 pandemic is a particularly relevant example of this fact.
Companies that fail to adapt will quickly find themselves in dangerous territory – unable to sustain losses, vulnerable to competitors and ill-prepared to bounce back when circumstances change.
That’s why the ability to manage short-term crises with the longer-term future in mind is an essential business skill. In this article, we’re going to outline seven highly-practical and easy-to-implement strategies for weathering whatever storms might come your way.
1. Diversify Your Service and Product Ranges
Large-scale crises like the coronavirus pandemic will often alter the demands of even well-established markets. Top-selling products and services can quickly become unpopular. Similarly, niche or marginal offerings can turn into key revenue-drivers.
Implementing both quantitative and qualitative feedback mechanisms in your business will enable you to stay attuned to the shifting needs and wants of your customer base. You can then use this information to offer new products or place greater emphasis on existing ones.
And this kind of information gathering needn’t be a complex, resource-intensive process. Focus groups, email surveys, social media monitoring and so on are all excellent sources of data.
2. Speak to New Consumer Demands in Your Marketing Campaigns
Once you have identified emerging customer needs, you should tailor your marketing campaigns accordingly. Flexibility in regards to your advertising and promotional activities is a vital aspect of resilience.
It’s no accident, for example, that many food chains are emphasizing rigorous safety and hygiene practices to alleviate customer concerns about COVID-19 transmission. And an equally large number of electronics retailers have expanded their home office ranges and created special deals and discounts to attract cash-strapped remote workers.
If you modify your value proposition or shift product focus as a result of a crisis, ensure that new selling points and offerings are added to your promotional materials quickly.
3. Limit Losses With Appointment Scheduling Tech
Cancelled appointments represent a significant source of lost revenue for service-based businesses. During times of crisis, when overall customer numbers are likely to be down, the impact of lost bookings can be even greater.
One way to overcome this problem is by overhauling your appointment-scheduling process. Rather than relying on in-person bookings made over the phone, which require large amounts of employee time, it’s worth considering an online solution.
Customers can log in to a dedicated member area and book, cancel or reschedule appointments without any direct impact on your team. What’s more, apps will also send SMS reminders, which can significantly cut down on no-shows.
You might also wish to consider disincentivizing clients from making last-minute cancellations or forgetting about appointments by implementing prepayment and penalty charges.
4. Consider Short-Term Credit Options
One of the most insidious ways that short-term crises can hurt businesses is by disrupting cash-flow. If your company doesn’t have significant capital reserves, you should familiarize yourself with all possible contingencies well in advance of any potential setbacks. These might include bank loans, overdrafts, refinancing of assets, invoice financing (where a lender will pay you the equivalent of outstanding invoices) and so on.
Furthermore, you should acquaint yourself with all government aid packages and financial safety nets. It is good practice to consult with a legal professional to ensure that you have a full picture.
5. Approach Remote Working as an Ongoing Project
COVID-19 has forced a significant number of businesses to manage their workforces remotely. And in the vast majority cases, this transition has been successful. Remote employees report higher levels of wellbeing, productivity, and overall performance.
Teams that are trained to work from home effectively can be an immense asset during times of crisis. Many unplanned disturbances, from pandemics to technological outages to environmental disasters, can force offices to close temporarily. And businesses with the capabilities to switch quickly to a remote model will suffer much less damage than those that can’t.
Treat remote work as an ongoing project. Implement staff training programs, test management processes and ensure that all team members are equipped to continue in their roles effectively and with minimum disruption.
6. Take Advantage of Online Opportunities if Applicable
Brick-and-mortar companies often sideline or overlook the online arm of their business. But this is invariably a mistake. If a crisis causes in-store footfall to decrease, online sales can provide a valuable short-term lifeline.
Your online assets, made up of your website, ecommerce store, search rankings, social media following, email list and optimized ad campaigns, can be leveraged during times of crisis to reach new markets, unload excess stock and ask for support from your customers.
But it’s important to build your digital presence when you have spare resources. Should the worst happen, you can devote your attention to driving revenue online. This will limit losses and potentially allow you to take advantage of new opportunities, such as the increase in ecommerce demand caused by government-mandated lockdowns during COVID-19.
7. Implement Short-Term Contingencies With the Future in Mind
Whenever implementing a short-term contingency, it’s important to ask a simple question: “What, if any, are the potential long-term impacts of this decision?”
A crisis strategy’s potential long-term drawbacks might outweigh any possible gains. And it’s crucial to remember that the longevity of the company is the primary concern.
In particular, always consider how your customers, employees and finances might be affected in the coming months and years, after the crisis has passed. Create detailed forecasts and explore alternative scenarios upon which you can base an informed decision. Sometimes the risks will simply be too great.
Develop Your Business Skills at EU Business School
We are living through one of the most economically tumultuous times in history. And while the lasting consequences of coronavirus remain to be seen, one thing is for certain: innovative, dedicated business leaders are needed now more than ever.
If you are thinking about a career in business, perhaps even as the head of your own startup, a degree from EU Business School will equip you with all the knowledge, skills and practical experience you need to thrive in your chosen field.