Would your business survive a crisis?

The recent tragic events at Alton Towers theme park, when two roller coasters collided causing serious injury and lots of publicity, has got me thinking how my small business would cope with a crisis of its own.

Ok, we sell coffee and cakes, so it’s unlikely that something of the same magnitude could happen in our business, or is it? There are a number of similarities between theme parks and coffee shops, we serve thousands of people per week, we generally employ young people, liquids are involved although ours are hot where splash mountain is cold!

You only need to open your newspaper to find a restaurant that has had a food scare or poor health inspector visit, this will have a dire effect on trade to the point that many of the businesses will never get over the bad publicity and they will close.

Following the principles below will help:-

  • Have a solid documented legally compliant operating procedure
  • Train every team member to understand and follow the guidelines and record their training.
  • Record the checks that are made to ensure that the processes are followed
  • Review, and record your review of the whole system
  • Have good insurance, including business interruption and key man policies

Small issues become big problems

A key thing to remember is that how you deal with any crisis, however small is important. A stray hair in a sandwich could become a major issue is if not dealt with well by the team straight away. We are constantly reminded of the fact that a complaint will spread much faster than a compliment and in the age of instant communication to thousands or millions of people via social media. Your stray hair could become a food contamination issue that tarnishes your reputation for years and gets you a visit from the local environmental health department. Trip Advisor reviews will be affected, google always seems to pick up on the bad reviews as well.

The cost of all this can be quite small in comparison to the impact on your business, being a member of the Federation of Small Businesses in the UK will provide you with legal advice and your local Environmental Health Department will be able to provide you with documentation and advice. They much prefer helping you do a good job rather than finding faults at an inspection.

There are so many things where the responsibility is down to the business now rather than a third party authority, risk assessments for equipment & COSHH, electrical safety testing are things that could be easily overlooked or ignored to save money but when an issues occur, it will be the business owner that will be personally liable and if the correct procedures have not been completed, then the insurance company will not pay out.

Even the best are vulnerable 

We know of a restaurant that was run with the highest standards, the chef was very uncooperative with an EHO visit, which resulted in a Zero Star rating, this was reported in the local paper and is still on the internet. This resulted in a dramatic loss of trade for a 6-month period. They are now recovering, it illustrates that even the best operators can be affected.

Can you sleep at night?

It’s essential that your operating policies and procedures are legally compliant, robust and easy to follow by team members. Spending time and money by taking expert advice at the beginning of your business journey is very worthwhile and will allow you to sleep at night. If your business does not have these things in place then now may be the time to review them.

Cafe Success supply compliance packs to ensure your business is fulfilling its legal obligations. Contact us for a free no obligation telephone review.

We offer a ‘No Brainer Money Back Guarantee’, if we can’t save you more than the cost of our time, then we will give you a full refund.

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About the authors

Andrew and Claire Bowen have run their own coffee shops for the last 8 years starting as franchisees and moving to develop their own independent business. The knowledge and experience gained from this have been used in the development of Café Success – the UK’s best resource for the coffee shop, café and tearoom owners. Free to Join at cafesuccesshub.com it is growing to cover all aspects of setting up and running a coffee business. Please link in with them and join the Coffee Shop Owners of the UK discussion group on linked in.