No field service operator wants to spend their day thinking disaster is waiting just around the corner. But that doesn’t mean you can’t put in place a comprehensive contingency plan to ensure that you’re ready should the worst occur. Although you might already have a ‘Plan B’ in the back of your mind, creating a formal plan that identifies key risks to your business and outlines the steps to overcome them gives you the best chance of navigating any oncoming storm.
Just over the last year, numerous unforeseen events have demonstrated how essential a contingency plan is to keep your business’ head above water. The spread of COVID-19 has shut down countless companies around the globe, while on a smaller scale, the recent Texas "Snowpocalypse" caused dozens of factories, food-processing plants and small businesses to close. You might not be able to control the weather, but you can definitely control how you handle a challenging situation by creating a solid plan.
However, understand that contingency plans aren’t created just to deal with unlikely events like pandemics or natural disasters. They can also provide a way forward when a crucial employee decides to quit, an unexpected supply chain disruption occurs or when a new competitor swipes your clients. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that these issues can be handled on the fly.
Instead, read this helpful guide on creating a contingency plan to ensure your field service business and its team are prepared to handle unforeseen events with a carefully considered approach. This way, you can make sure your company reaches the other side unscathed.
It’s a good idea to start thinking about your contingency plan today. But remember that these potentially catastrophic events might come from somewhere that you’d least expect. This is why you should produce your contingency plan in collaboration with your entire team at an annual meeting.
Getting the viewpoint of every employee can make a huge difference when evaluating the risk of sudden events. This is because on-the-ground employees are bound to have a different perspective of risk compared to their boss. Meanwhile, having a document that accounts for disasters is no good if you’re the only person who knows the plan. Be sure to share your contingency plan with both management and employees to keep everyone up-to-date on the latest procedures.
For a contingency plan to be effective, it has to be revised frequently. Whenever your field service business undergoes a significant change, ranging from new hires to different cybersecurity practices, you need to consider potential issues and resolutions. Set up a meeting every six months to make sure your plan is regularly updated with new information.
Creating a solid contingency plan requires time-consuming research and discussion with the rest of your team. When considering the main risks that face your field service operation, start with a macro view and refine each section down into smaller problems and solutions. However, every business must consider the risks associated with staff, technology, inventory and legal concerns.
Once you’ve produced a detailed list of risks, it’s time to explore solutions that will get your operation back to normal. First, identify the impact of a problem and the steps needed to be taken by specific employees to overcome a crisis as quickly as possible. For instance, there’s a high risk that field service operators will eventually encounter a worksite injury that requires a rapid response.
In your contingency plan, a nuanced solution to this worrying issue could consider the worker’s immediate medical concerns, the company’s potential legal problems, and how to initiate a full review to ensure this doesn’t happen again. With so much information to consider, risks need to be sorted by priority and visualized so that every stakeholder can clearly understand the process.
You need to find a way to elegantly display this in-depth information now that your field service operation’s contingency plan is taking shape. This might not sound essential, but when every step counts, understanding the exact process means fewer mistakes and a quicker solution.
One of the most common ways to present a contingency plan is through a chart template. This approach provides a simple way to list potential issues, as you include sections for the likelihood and impact of each event, followed by steps required to prepare and execute a response. This straightforward format means you can quickly identify the problem, put your plan into action and prevent losses.
Creating a mind map is also highly beneficial for field service operators. As you develop a range of ideas through your discussions with staff, this strategy helps illustrate both likely and unlikely concerns. As you build around diverging pathways, this contingency road map should clearly describe the actions needed as you move from one step to the next.
It’s easy to avoid creating your contingency plan, especially when your business is thriving. Putting so much thought into a host of disastrous ideas will cause plenty of concern, while many of the risks you come up with will probably seem incredibly unlikely. But developing a strategy to overcome these rare moments is entirely the point. A comprehensive contingency plan will help you identify a variety of weak links in your day-to-day operation. Plus, it will also give you peace of mind to approach problems if they occur.
Just because your business is flourishing today doesn’t mean things are always going to stay this way. Some cashed-up competition could move in on your territory or a medical emergency could restrict your ability to work. By putting time and effort into creating a highly visual contingency plan, your business has a fantastic weapon to fight off complex issues that might prove a huge problem for other, less organized companies.
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