Take Firm Steps to Handle Crises, Independent Dealers Advised

Take Firm Steps to Handle Crises, Independent Dealers Advised

The recent developments concerning Rutt and Heritage have had a happy ending, thanks to Viking Range's acquisition of the ailing custom cabinet manufacturers. However, the situation does point up the need for savvy independent kitchen and bath dealers to develop some contingencies for crisis management.

Of course, there are some difficulties in planning for a crisis not the least of which that the very definition of a "crisis" is an unforeseen, sudden event. But, it is possible to draw up some possible circumstances and develop strategies to act on should those circumstances occur.

Therefore, here are just a few questions kitchen and bath dealers should be asking themselves:

What would happen to your business should one of your key suppliers be eliminated without receiving any warning?

If your showroom were to burn down, would a copy of important business records be available offsite?

What would happen to your finances if one or more of your customers wanted their deposits back?

What would happen if an essential employee took sick or even passed away?

Sometimes businesses have "secrets" what would happen if the world learned your secrets?

Once you've outlined some possible business crises, examine your operation for possible warning signs. Then, mentally develop some strategies that can help you cope. For example, back up your important business records offsite. Make sure your employees know enough about the business to be able to fill cover jobs should something happen to another employee or you.

You can also reward employees who communicate potential "bad" news. They may carry the warning signals for a crisis, and are often aware of problems that you may be unaware of. When you're aware of the worst, you can prepare for it.

Lastly, when a crisis does occur, be honest. Don't blame others. Move quickly to resolve matters, understanding that a delay will only prolong any crisis. Your customers and suppliers will judge your actions in dealing with the crisis on the basis of your moral character; delaying or attempting to hide bad news only weakens you in the eyes of the people who matter most.

Looking for possible pitfalls and being ready to react is a prudent step for small and large businessmen, and can help you avoid or minimize even greater trouble when a crisis occurs.