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It’s not always possible to keep negative events from happening. It could be the actions of a disgruntled employee or irate online comments from a dissatisfied customer. Or maybe it’s a product malfunction or even a random, unconnected news event that the public might associate with your brand. Whatever it is, most home service contractors will face a crisis sooner or later.
Even the most experienced contractors can find themselves dealing with a public situation that potentially casts their company in a negative light. And how they respond to a crisis can have long-term consequences for their companies — and even impact the viability of those businesses.
Successfully navigate the course of a crisis and you can minimize the fallout. Mismanage the situation, however, and you could undermine your relationship with your customers and experience critical damage to your reputation.
The best strategy for managing a crisis is to prevent it from happening. Unfortunately, crises are a fact of life in the home service industry these days. Social media, supply chain disruption, pandemic politics and evolving customer expectations almost guarantee that service pros will face negative public scrutiny at some point.
It’s crucial, then, to be prepared for a worst-case scenario.
That means staying engaged and alert. Closely monitor social media. Stay connected to your customers, vendors and team members. Identify issues before they erupt into a full-blown crisis. For example, if you see a pattern of complaints on social media, address them quickly and effectively so they don’t escalate and go viral or end up on the local TV news.
Preparation also means having a plan. A crisis communications plan developed specifically for your company is the first step in successfully responding to a crisis.
Before you try to build a strategic crisis management plan yourself or assign it to a staff member, consider partnering with an experienced home service public relations agency. A professional agency has the right skills and tools to efficiently develop a plan to address multiple potential crises so you and your team can continue focusing on your work.
Not all agencies are alike. Finding one that understands your business and the challenges of your industry is key to maintaining your company’s reputation in the face of a crisis.
While every crisis communications plan is different and should be tailored to meet the specific needs of each contractor, here are some basic crisis management principles to look for:
Don’t ignore a crisis or hope it will blow over; meet the situation head-on and handle it with urgency. If you think a problem is about to erupt, address it now. Your business depends on trust, and sometimes it takes action to maintain customers’ confidence in your company’s skill and reliability.
In most instances, contractors who try to improvise or hope the crisis will pass take enormous risks. A strategic crisis response based on transparency and accountability can quickly extinguish speculation and put the situation in proper perspective. A clumsy or inexpert response can amplify even minor challenges.
However, home service contractors with a prepared crisis plan are in a position to steer the narrative, shape the message and restore the relationships their companies rely on.