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How to ensure ‘business as usual’ in the face of a crisis

Natural disasters and unexpected catastrophes are inevitable, but not every business is sufficiently prepared for when things don’t go according to plan. The resulting fallout a disaster could have on your business can be enormous, however, having a plan in place will help to reduce the impact so you can ride out the storm and survive any unexpected calamities.

In recent months, many Australian businesses – and entire industries – have been tested and severely impacted by unforeseen back-to-back disasters. First came the national bushfire disaster followed almost immediately by the global COVID-19 outbreak. Not only have these crises taken a significant financial toll on many businesses so far, they’ve also had emotional and psychological consequences for business owners, their staff and their families. With this in mind, it’s critical to address not only the business and financial ramifications, but also the psychosocial impact on the human resources your business heavily relies on.

We’ve put together 3 survival tips to help you ensure your mortgage broking business continues in business-as-usual mode during an adversity.

3 disaster survival tips for your Mortgage broker business

 

1) Make sure you have a business continuity plan.

Benjamin Franklin once said, “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” A business continuity plan, or BCP, simply involves making a plan for how your business can prepare for and continue to operate after an incident or crisis. Typically, many businesses build a BCP into their overall business plan at the onset to avoid disruption, loss of revenue, or even worse, business closure in the event of unforeseen external circumstances.

There is currently no legislation that legally requires small businesses in the Australian financial services sector to have a BCP. According to global research, most SMEs are inadequately prepared for a business disruption-related risk event. In fact, an Asia-Pacific Economic Community survey found that 50% of SMEs did not have any business continuity plan in place and of those that did, only 25% had actually tested it. Considering that small businesses account for 35% of Australia’s GDP and 44% of private sector employment, this is alarming.

If you don’t have a plan in place to help your business continue operating in the event of an unexpected calamity, you are significantly reducing your ability to adequately manage the resulting repercussions and effectively navigate the obstacles to keep your business on track. Now, with Coronavirus being declared a pandemic by the World Health Organisation, business disruption is expected to worsen considerably. However, it’s not yet too late to formulate a basic plan of action to lessen the impact it could have on your business. Your plan should include:

  • a risk management plan with a business impact analysis.
  • an incident response plan, with details of when to use the plan, the incident response team, communication during and after an incident and a contact list.
  • a recovery plan.

You’ll find more detailed information on drafting an effective business continuity plan on the Australian Government’s business website.

 

2) Communicate, communicate, communicate.

One of the most critical components of a successful business continuity and recovery plan is effective communication ­– before, during and after an incident or crisis. Businesses get side-tracked with resolving business-critical operations when disaster strikes and often overlook the most crucial tool for managing a crisis…the communication of information.

During and after a calamity there is always a human impact. Shock, confusion, panic and emotional distress are just some of the psychological and emotional side-effects your customers and staff will inevitably experience. Communicate with your customers and employees without delay, explaining what your plan is to ensure the business continues as normal. Make sure your staff understand what is expected of them, will they be required to work remotely, what their responsibilities will be and discuss their individual needs and concerns. Some staff may need to take time off work to care for family members, some may need mental health assistance or counselling, so make arrangements to accommodate each employee’s situation to ensure business critical functions continue uninterrupted.

If you have to relocate your office, or you and your staff plan to work remotely, let your customers know that you are still operational (especially if your existing office space has been vacated in an emergency).

Do not get caught up in the panic and leave your customers hanging for days with no updates. A communication blackout only increases distress and may result in them losing trust in you – which could impact future business.

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