Thursday, 29 March 2012

Fuel Shortages Contingency Planning - Part of the Customer Experience

Do you remember the fuel shortage in 2000 when lorry drivers and farmers blockaded oil facilities and caused widespread disruption? The country almost ground to a halt. Businesses experienced problems of one sort or another including staff having difficulties getting to work, shortages of essential services and products and manufacturing slowing down due to lack of raw materials.

How is your business geared to cope with the possible shortages brought about by the threatened tanker driver strike and how will it affect your customers?

So what will you do to minimise the risk to your business and ensure that your customers are inconvenienced as little as possible? Regardless of the size of your business, putting in place contingency plans to mitigate the impact of any disruption to your business makes economic sense.

All businesses are different and it is impossible in this short article to answer the question, indeed the options may be limited but that is no reason not to plan. Take 3 possible scenarios.

1.      Manufacturing grinds to a halt due to lack of raw materials. If you are in manufacturing or supply goods to manufactures is it possible to arrange for consignment stocking to ensure that once supplies return to normal there is sufficient finished stock to cope with back orders?
2.     Communication systems, IT & Telephones, can be diverted for home use in many instances which can mean that essential workers can operate effectively without the worry of finding fuel to get to work.
3.    For businesses with external sales teams and advisors should ensure that every face-2-face meeting, where travel is involved, is essential to the business and that it cannot be handled by other communication methodology, especially the telephone.

Be prepared! Haven’t I heard that before? Let your customers know in advance about the contingency plans that you are preparing to keep their businesses running in case the strike goes ahead and ask for their comments & suggestions. This action will prove to your customers that you care about their business and value their opinions as well as their custom.

Along with protecting your business by putting in place a contingency plan what actions are you taking to develop your business at this time? The contingency plan should also include how to gain & retain business from your competitors who have not taken action. Develop your customer facing people’s skills in sales, communication, negotiation, customer service and the use of the telephone in business now.

Paul Clayton