Natural disasters, cyber-attacks, pandemics…oh my! If we had to describe the 2020s in one word so far, ‘disaster’ might be the one we’d choose. We’ll be feeling the domino effect these events have had on our life, our businesses, and our economy for years to come. And just when we think we’re in the clear, surprise! Something new happens and we find ourselves shaking our heads in disbelief thinking…again? Really?
The aftermath hasn’t been pretty. Supply chain issues have price tags soaring and inventory scarce. Consumer satisfaction is at its lowest level in 15 years, leading to less spending. Retailers and restaurants are permanently shutting their doors. Employees are leaving their jobs at record rates and fewer students are opting to enroll in college. Businesses and organizations across the globe are scrambling to react, repair and rebuild after the unprecedented circumstances of the last two years.
While it’s impossible to plan the next disaster, it IS possible to prepare for its disruption so you can reduce the impact on your business. Because after some time, things will get back to a ‘new normal’ and trend up again - and we will want to use these lessons learned to proactively plan for the next upheaval.
Here are a few steps you can take to proactively prepare for future issues:
Break out your crystal ball.
Don’t we wish! The bad news is that we don’t know when the next disruption might occur, but the good news is that we have a very recent example to base preparations on. Almost every industry was affected in some way by the pandemic shutdown. Many industries have been affected by severe weather shutdowns. Then there are data breaches, employee strikes, and other scenarios that could impact the flow of your business. Consider each scenario separately, use lessons learned where possible and develop a step-by-step plan to reduce the impact of each one.
Develop Your Plan B. And C and D.
McKinsey reports that companies can now expect supply chain disruptions lasting a month or longer to occur every 3.7 years when averaging across all industries. As supply chains have become more global, there is much less room for error. An issue on an entirely different continent can lead to significant delays.
Has your supply chain been impacted by the current global tie-up? Consider whether engaging with more local suppliers, having back-ups on call, keeping an emergency reserve fund, or stocking up more inventories would help in alleviating some of your company’s current burden and make the adjustments you can now. Have an alternate plan in place for the things you can’t change at this time.
Did the pandemic mandate the shut down of in-person visits to your store or restaurant? If you haven’t already, consider implementing curbside pick-up services or takeout opportunities so your business isn’t scrambling to react next time. Have your employees needed more sick leave to care for themselves or family members? Employ technology that allows for more remote capabilities or make connections with short-term contractors so the work isn’t disrupted and opportunities are missed.
Develop alternative plans in detail so they are ready to go in your next crisis situation.
Build a great company culture.
Oftentimes, the disruption isn’t event-driven, but people-driven. Even businesses that were able to survive the pandemic financially and haven’t seen major issues with their supply chain might still be impacted by unhappy employees and “the Great Resignation”. Whether it’s the next health issue, a strike, or fallout from unsatisfied employees, if you don’t have your full team in place, happy, and productive, the work will suffer.
Take a look at companies that have managed to remain successful through the pandemic. Not only were they prepared with a plan B, but they likely also have employees that are happy and engaged. We know that happy employees are more productive, and organizations that have embraced and nurtured a positive company culture have a better chance of being successful.
Checking in with your employees to ensure that they are satisfied is more crucial than ever before as more and more people are leaving their jobs. People are less willing to settle for companies that don’t support flexibility and collaboration. Checking in on the satisfaction of your employees will help gauge the collective mindset of your staff and gather insights as to what sort of adjustments you can make to increase productivity and retention in the workplace.
Utilize the power of your customer’s voice.
Implementing a research study that gives insight into your customers’ or your employees’ pain points during times of disruption is a smart way to understand your weaknesses so you can better plan for the future. Are your customers unhappy with their current purchasing options? Do they want better customer service and support when there are interruptions to their regular service? Do your employees feel supported and optimistic about their careers at your organization? All great places to start.
To make the right decisions that drive growth, companies need the right insights at the right time. Traditional market research firms deliver too much data, not enough insights, and it takes too much time. Trusting gut instinct takes little time but doesn’t ensure that decisions made will drive the growth expected.
Vennli executes agile market research and delivers fast, simple, and actionable insights on why customers make choices - because at the heart of growth is a customer choosing you over a competitor. For more information, please do not hesitate to contact us today.