How to Manage Your Stakeholders During a Lockdown
The current worldwide lockdown has seen a few markets collapse and economies border on recession. The demand for commodities and services are continuing to drop while many businesses are barely operational. A lockdown may still be in place where your business is and if this lack of economic movement persists for a much longer time then you know that you will need to start talking with your stakeholders soon. Who are your stakeholders? What do you need to discuss with them? Why is it necessary to be in touch with them during this period? Let us read more below.
Who are your stakeholders? By definition, a stakeholder can either be a person, a group, or an organization that has an interest in your company. Stakeholders can affect, as well as be affected by your business actions and policies. They are the following:
- your customers
- your employees
- suppliers (including property owners if you are renting space for your business)
This blog will limit the discussion to these four stakeholders only even if there are many more definable stakeholders for your company, such as your local community, the government, business associations, and even the media.
Your stakeholders will be very concerned with how your business will cope during these difficult times. They may have diverse levels of expectations that are reliant on their standing or role in your company, but they all expect to know how you will handle the current lockdown to keep your business alive.
Once you’ve made your plans on how to run your hospitality business, it’s imperative to go over the pertinent details with each respective stakeholder. While you may not have time to create formal documents, try to write in a format similar to a business or marketing plan that includes the following:
Trust and Communication
Remember that your stakeholders trust you. Otherwise, they would not be investing their time, money, and hard work in your company. The first step in managing their expectations is proactive communication. As a business owner, it is your responsibility to initiate discussions and consistently keep in touch with your stakeholders. What do you discuss with your stakeholders?
Do an honest, realistic projection of your revenue for the next six months. Would you need to secure loans? Ask for rent or lease extensions? Can you manage your payment to your suppliers?
One of the benefits of being in lockdown is that you have more time to think of more opportunities. You can venture into new concepts such as online and mobile orders and deliveries.
Sustainability of Your Business
Always stay alert on your finances. You know how much the lockdown will impact your profits, and working capital, so know your limits.
While some countries have financial aid allotted for affected industries during their lockdown, don’t rely on this aid too heavily. It is a welcome blessing but proceed with your own recovery plans.
Reconsider or make a raincheck on implementing maintenance plans.
Keep yourself updated on how long your government proceeds with the lockdown, and if you have business partners in other parts of the country or overseas, settle on expectations on how long it will take them to also return to normal operations.
Online Promotions and Advertisements
Digital marketing is one of the best ways to let people know that you’re still operating, as well as updating them on your new services. Partner-up with other local businesses in lockdown can also provide you with more time to coordinate and communicate with. If you share the same objectives with other business owners, you can help each other out through a partnership to offer bundled services or tie-ups.
Make use of the downtime to think and rethink of often crunched-up and rushed activities such as asset management, reviewing and enhancing internal processes and SOPs, and working on your digital marketing strategies. Presenting these ideas to your stakeholders may or may not grant you their support, but a proactive approach has a better chance of success than not exerting any effort during desperate circumstances. There may be compromises along the lines of approval and implementation, but it’s a start.
Consistency in Communication
Always bear in mind that frequent communication is the key to managing your stakeholders. It is important to keep these in mind as a manager:
- Always document your discussions and dialogues for easier tracking and reference.
- Discuss and clearly enumerate your objectives. Have a dialogue with your suppliers, funders, and contractors to manage their individual expectations and maintain confidence.
- Provide regular updates. As you go about implementing your plans, make your updates more understandable for your stakeholders. Quantify your progress in measurable values.
- Open up all means of informal communication, especially for busy stakeholders. A whole range of communication channels, as well as different approaches, may be necessary.
Safety lockdowns during a crisis may cause several hurdles for your business but think of it as an opportunity to recalibrate, improve, and act out on plans. Consider it as a given time to finally have conversations with your stakeholders, which you may have delayed for some time due to other business priorities. Always remember that there are workarounds and alternatives that you and your stakeholders can utilize to keep your business running. It may even flourish because of new opportunities and with a more solid group effort born out of cooperation.