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CRISIS MANAGEMENT STRATEGIES


Just a few years back we were contacted by our client with a crisis they were facing in Northern California, a Hepatitis A outbreak. An employee at one of our client restaurants had contracted Hep A. Fortunately, the previous two months into our client relationship we had begun writing a comprehensive crisis management plan to deal with such catastrophes. While we were only half-way through the crisis strategy plan, the part we had completed more than adequately covered the specific steps our client would be required to undertake in the event of a food borne illness (FBI) outbreak, specifically Hep A. For our client, it had the potential to be devastating as their chain of one hundred, high end, high grossing, restaurants were predominantly in California.

When notified, we responded within hours and landed a team on the ground at the involved restaurant. Employees were counseled, patrons and local media contacted, county and state personnel briefed, medical options were disclosed; and within days we had the situation totally under control. While sales fell after the first few days of public awareness, our client successfully managed to increase revenues month by month until they were reached the 90% mark within six months. The good news was nobody died, the outbreak was contained, our clients business was restored; and because our client purchased the recommended Food-borne Illness business interruption coverage prior to the loss, the claim was covered.  The local media praised our client for proactively managing this event and communicating openly and honestly with the media. With the proper steps established pre-incident, the spread of this outbreak was mitigated; and the financial impact on the employer was minimal.

Another good example of the importance of having a clear crisis management strategy involved a multifaceted and companywide employment discrimination, wage-loss, meal break violation of state and federal laws. Within hours of receiving legal notice of the suit, our client asked us to to determine the facts of this alleged violation. Our strategy was outlined in the client crisis management plan and the team assembled. We played a critical role in discovery of the facts and recommended defense counsel selections.  Our staff audited the integrity of the systems, rules and procedures used to track time and compensation on a system-wide basis; and interviewed field management system-wide. Within a short period of time a strategy was formalized based on the facts uncovered. While the suit's demand would have bankrupted the client, our successful management of the incident and discovery resulted in a settlement that was deemed affordable and fair by our client; and far less than the board and CEO client anticipated. Fortunately for our client, they accepted our recommendation to purchase Employment Practices Liability coverage  and the settlement was substantially funded by this policy.  

 

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