When Disaster Strikes: Strategies to Help You Roll with the Punches
By Paula Mosteller
The day that you decided to start your business, you might have envisioned gleaming, smiling customers and thunderous applause for all the extra care and resources that it took to take the risk. Only a certain few get to realize their dream of having the freedom and luxury of starting their own business. The signs are up, your website is beautiful and the sun is shining rays of happiness in your direction.
Then, one day, reality enters the building; a natural disaster, a disease outbreak happens, or something else to throw you off course. Either you are already prepared or you need to make a plan—and fast! The following real life tips and examples will help you be prepared when and if a disaster strikes.
During a crisis, you may want to bury your head under the sand and hide, but you need to immediately broadcast your plan to your customer base of pet parents. If your management software if able, notify your customer list and blast updates periodically. Use social media with updates and, under no circumstances, leave customers waiting and wondering.
You are in the service business, and no matter how perfect you try to be in your processes and procedures, things will go wrong at some point. You need to be prepared and ready to take swift action to do the very best of your abilities to produce the absolute best end result. Be proactive and prepared with some kind of action plan in place that is well known by your entire staff.
Safety Program Requirements1
All facilities need to identify the safety issues and list the programs and training requirements. The programs should include the following:
- Dog related issues
- Employee related issues
- Accident investigation & reporting
- Emergency action
- Hazard communication
- Workplace accident and injury reduction
- Noise exposure and hearing conservation
- OSHA record keeping
- Personal protective equipment
- Safe driving (if you have a shuttle)
Safety and Emergency Procedures1
Management needs to commit to a safe and healthy workplace to prevent accidents and injury to health arising out of, linked with, or occurring in the course of work or as a result of the operation of your dog care facility. Adopt responsible measures to mitigate negative impacts that the workplace could have on the environment.
A safety and emergency policy statement needs to explain what the safety and emergency procedures are and why they are important to understand as well as what needs to be done in an emergency situation. Employees and Managers should obey safety rules and exercise caution and common sense in all work activities.
Implement a Training Program that regularly provides information to employees about workplace safety and health issues, response requirements and how to prevent issues from occurring in the first place.
The potential issues of concern include severe weather, natural disasters such as tornado, flood, blizzard and other local issues. Fire and Medical emergency procedures need to be outlined in a clear and concise way with employees. An example would be to make sure all employees know where the emergency clinic is located in your market. Be prepared for other issues such as extended power loss, chemical management & spills, bomb threats, gas smells, etc.
Take all of this and put it into a simple outline called Safety and Emergency Guidelines. Not only does management need to understand all safety & emergency requirements and procedures, but each facility needs a Safety Manager (does not have to be the General Manager) that communicates and updates all requirements and procedures.
Gain from Your Pain
Being an entrepreneur involves taking risks. Businesses, especially in the pet space, must face the reality of being thrown a curve ball to disrupt even your most careful planning. Mistakes and pain are great teachers. In a heated situation, you have to put out the fire and keep on moving ahead. The trick is to prepare for surprises—even tricky ones—and have a plan of action.
The goal is still to strive for greatness, but also be able to look at each situation as a way to grow. You chose the challenging path to be a pet professional combining passion, business, knowledge and a tough crowd to please. It isn’t always easy, but it is worth the hard work and unseen emotional pressure.
Think of each day and each experience as a journey to your best self. Once you master rolling with the punches, you will always surface even better than you started.
1. Submitted by John Sturgess, Owner, Adogo Pet Hotels, http://adogopethotels.com/952-933-5200 and RetrieveOne Advisors – working within the pet industry helping early-stage to established organizations implement strategic business solutions. 612-850-3433 retrieveoneadvisors.com
Paula Mosteller is the owner of PetExec, Inc. web based software for pet professionals. She is passionate about the well being of pet professionals and finding ways to enhance the lives of entrepreneurs. PetExec.net 1.888.739.3935