Haulage Industry Crisis Management Plan – How to write one.

Haulage Industry Crisis Management Plan – How to write one.

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Haulage Industry Crisis Management Plan

crisis ahead road signEstimated reading time 4 – 5 minutes.

In a recent blog, I spoke about how a haulier’s reputation is vulnerable when a high-profile event happens with one of your vehicles. In this blog, I thought I would expand on that and give you some information on developing a Crisis Management Plan and what should be in it.

The first question to address of course is what do I mean by a Crisis Management Plan?
Basically, it should be the document you use whenever a crisis occurs. It should be written with a generic response in mind, not a specific scenario. If you write for a specific scenario you will come unstuck because the crisis you next find yourself in won’t be what you had imagined when writing the plan.

There is a British Standard (BS11200:2014 Crisis management – Guidance and good practice) that gives some guidance on what a plan should contain. Adding my years of experience, I recommend that your plan considers the following headlines.

At the start, it really needs to have a triggering mechanism detailing who and when the crisis management plan should be activated. Do you allow the duty supervisor to trigger it or does he or she have to inform a manager or director? Whatever you come up with needs to suit the structure of your company.

Contact details for key contacts need to be clear. If the MD or General Manager is to be informed (and he or she should be) how are you going to contact him or her?

The plan needs to make clear who is responsible for what. It will depend again on the size and shape of the company but things you may want to consider are who is going to lead the Crisis Management Team. If the company is big enough you may want to give the CMT team leaders role to a suitable director or senior manager who will be responsible for managing the situation and recovery. The MD or General Manager may be better employed facing the media to talk for the company at the highest level.

About media, I cannot over emphasis how important a media plan is to a successful outcome. If you get the media wrong it could be extremely damaging to the company’s reputation. The media response part of the plan needs to detail who is going to say what. It needs to have a planned response to social media and someone dedicated to dealing with it. It is no good waiting until the event has happened to think about how you are going to handle your communications. Things will be more emotionally charged and that isn’t a great way to decide what you are going to say. Once the incident has happened you have minutes, not hours, to respond appropriately so you need to be ahead of the game and have your responses pre-prepared. There is a lot more to say about handling the media but I will leave that for another blog.

Checklists, set agendas and situation report formats that everyone is trained to use will ease the flow of information inside the company. Don’t forget to keep a log, when the enquiry comes having a log of who made what decisions and why will be critical, especially if the enquiry is an external one where prosecutions may be likely.

Once you have written your carefully crafted plan you do of course must ensure that everyone in the organisation knows of its existence and where they fit within it. In short it needs to be embedded, practiced and refined.

I have seen plans that people thought would work but have collapsed under even the most basic testing. The key here is to involve the people who will make the plan work and above all else, to test it, even if it’s a walk through the plan in the office. You will then need to refine it considering the lessons learned because no one can write a plan that will be perfect first time round. Once you have a plan that is workable you should exercise it more widely and involve staff in the exercise so they can use the opportunity as a training tool.

You will have to adapt the plan to suit your company’s structure and culture. What I have written here is generic advice you should consider including. There will be a lot more detail in your finished plan.

Once have a plan don’t forget to revisit it from time to time and when something in the company changes and remember to exercise it regularly.

Of course, if you feel that writing  a Crisis Management Plan isn’t the best use of your time or skills I can help you develop a plan that suits your company. I don’t do off the shelf plans. I will work with you and your team to produce a plan that works for you. Just get in touch and we can discuss your requirements.

How much will it cost you ask? The honest answer is that it depends but you expected me to say that. It depends on the size and complexity of your company and it depends on how much, if any of the training and exercising you want me to do. We can discuss what your requirements are and I will be able to provide you with a cost before you decide.

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