Small Business

7 Damage Control Tips to Get Your Small Business Back on Track

Startups and small businesses have growth issues from time to time and need damage control help

What does damage control mean, if you are reading this post you might have an idea. Damage control is a crisis or near crisis where an organization is experiencing a major issue or could be a fatal flaw.

No matter how successful your small business is, it is that you will come across a difficult situation. But, just because you hit a bump in the road, doesn?t mean it dooms your business to fail. It?s time to run damage control.

When the going gets tough, take a moment and consider how to create an easy-to-implement solution to get through difficult times and drive toward small business success.

Whether it be a PR crisis, unexpected financial problems, a security breach, or some other problem, your business can survive if it has a plan for damage control. Therefore it?s critical to prepare for anything that might come your way.

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There is a wide variety of ways to get back on track, ranging from cost-cutting strategies to reputation management, depending on what situation you find yourself in.

In today?s post, we?ll review some of the approaches that can help you overcome adversities that might cross your path.

Expense Category Cuts


Expense category cuts are one of the most common ways for small businesses to have fewer excess costs.

Damage control might involve a fine review of all your expenses. But don’t save yourself by not spending. That’s a quick way to shut the doors down.

For small businesses and start-ups, these costs include the basics of running a business: office rent, vehicles, utilities, telecom, printing, etc. These expenses can vary depending on what type of business you run. But, your expense costs are all the everyday expenses that allow you to run a business.

When it?s time to cut these costs, the first step is to analyze your expenses at the moment and work toward a better solution. Check a recent profit and loss statement and look at your tax return.

Expenses come from many areas, such as products, services, locations, and customers. Track and discover where your costs have grown beyond what you intend them to be. 

Think about your yearly seasonal trends and find an expense category that could be cut based on your needs and your cash flow. Are layoffs necessary? If you travel often, are there cheaper travel options? See where you can afford to cut back and do so.

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Promote Telecommuting

A great number of business leaders will tell you that telecommuting can do wonders for your cost-cutting needs. The sad fact is that many companies don?t make use of this potential lifesaver.

Here is a cost-saving damage control tip.

It has been proven that telecommuting allowances, and other kinds of flexible work agreements, affect your employees? job satisfaction and morale. And these things have a great impact on general productivity.

Telecommuting improves bottom lines by the means of reducing utility costs because of less electricity and water being used, how much space is needed to keep employees in your headquarters, travel and commuting costs, and the time lost to traveling and commuting. 

In fact, telecommuting can (and should) be considered during your conversations about expense category cuts (see tip #1 above).

Create a Business Communication Strategy


Not too many organizations have a crisis management plan in place. Or are they ready to handle crisis communication? You don?t have to be a 500 employees sized company to have a plan.

Creating a business communication strategy is a great way to ensure your employees know how to react if disaster strikes.

If you set up a brand messaging ahead of time, once your business finds itself in trouble, you will already have a plan on how to let your customers know what is going on. Make sure you always have an up-to-date list of all your customers? email addresses and phone numbers, so you can contact them straight away if needed.

Next, have someone in your company who will write a press release in case of a true disaster.

This needs to be a person experienced with this situation so that when an issue comes up, you can release a proper statement that doesn?t make the problem worse. If you don?t have a qualified person on staff, reach out to an agency for guidance.

To be prepared, you can create somewhat of a template based on a variety of situations. Follow these five tips when developing your PR strategy.

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1. Identify your key-value proposition and messages.

What do you want your customers to know? Is your message about a recall? A natural disaster? Lay-offs?

When developing a statement, leave out any fluff and make sure your message is clear.

2. Pinpoint your target audience.

Are you trying to communicate with your employees? Investors? Consumers?

Your target strategy and audience will dictate the tone of your message and how you distribute your message.

3. Define what your audience must know.

Only tell your audience what they need to know. Don?t leave them in the dark by telling them too little, but don?t confuse the situation by giving all the tiny, unnecessary details.

And, though it may be obvious, it?s important to remember to only tell your audience what you know to be true. If you?re unsure, don?t make up supplemental information, just let them know what you know and that you?ll keep them updated when new information becomes available.

Create a content distribution strategy.

The point of your communication strategy is to ensure that your audience is well-informed, so your distribution strategy must match how your audience consumes information. Do they listen to the radio? Watch T.V.? Check social media? 

Determine which communication channels are most used by your audience and distribute your message based on those trends.

Damage control could be stopped by getting your products faster into the market.

Measure your success.

Make sure you measure the success of your communication strategy. Did your audience feel well-informed? Did your reputation suffer during the incident?

Talk to customer service reps, check online reviews, and review your company?s social media pages and conversations to understand your audience?s sentiment. This will help you identify strengths and weaknesses in your plan so you can be better prepared next time.

Examine Your Product Profitability


Damage control may mean cutting your budget.

Another method of cutting costs is to pay attention to the profitability of particular products.

For this solution, you must put all related expenses under scrutiny. As a small business owner, you can look into materials, purchasing, design, production, and delivery, and other fields related to the product itself.

Every cost that has anything to do with a particular product should be under consideration. During this process, you may find interrelated expenses that are hurting your business or opportunities for cost-cutting that can help you get back on top.

If there is a change in materials, it could well lead to a change in production methods and design options. You need to be careful, however, because one change can increase quality, while others can reduce it.

Make sure that all your products are providing what is necessary for your bottom line. If you haven?t done a product profitability analysis in a while, maybe it?s the right time to do so.

Make Use of Social Media

If a crisis occurs, you need to make the best out of all the social media channels you have. They can make or break your efforts to solve the issues at hand. It?s of the essence that whoever is managing the accounts is acquainted with your business communication strategy.

Damage control can be reduced with a good social media plan.

This will make sure that nothing goes wrong while you are taking care of your business? current issues. Things to consider include:

  • Will you reply to negative comments on social media? It?s often a good idea to reply by providing them with a way to contact you via private message or telephone. This will allow you to take the conversation offline and out of the public eye.
  • How much will you reveal on social media vs. more formal outlets?
  • Will you be active on all social channels or just specific platforms (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc.)?

If solving the situation at hand proves to be a process, it might be a good idea for you to post real-time updates via Twitter. It is essential that your customers have the information about what?s going on with your business as soon as possible.

Move to a Smaller Office Location

Sometimes you may find the location you are using for your business operations right now is costing you too much and is big for your day-to-day required tasks. Choosing a smaller location for your business could be the best solution.

However, the question that arises at this moment is what to do with all the equipment. Your business still could grow in time so it might be necessary for you to save it once it does. Look into storage facilities where you can keep your equipment and other items you might end up needing.

Damage Control involves Asking for Help

When in need of support during a critical situation, you can rely on your contacts to get referrals. These are the people interested in the products or services you offer.

So, all you need to do is ask. Your contacts can provide prospects with information about you. The more referrals you?ve got, the more business you will generate through them.

Every once in a while, your small business is bound to face hardships. Therefore it is essential to have a plan. Make sure you have your damage control strategy top of mind so you can react to any issues that arise and make your way back up to the top in no time.

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General FAQ’s

What is damage control in a small business?

Damage control?is a department or group responsible for taking action to?control damage?caused by a company, to curtail losses, counteract unfavorable publicity, or poor revenue model.

Why is damage control important?

Why is damage control important??Damage control?is primarily about minimizing the negative perception caused by a crisis-situation or an organization’s weak cash-flow situation or poor revenue models.

What is damage control in public relations (pr)?

Public relations?is about building, improving, and maintaining the?public?image and perception of an individual, company, or organization.?Damage control?involves minimizing the negative effect caused by an event or series of events.

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By George Schildge

As a digital marketing and conversion optimization expert, I work with startups, small and mid-sized businesses to help them develop processes to get predictable, scalable revenue growth. I work closely with management teams crafting marketing and sales strategies to promote the brand, generate more leads, and convert more leads into sales. I have a unique ability to balance rational, linear thinking and lateral creativity giving me a hard-nosed sense of operating reality, instrumental to a company’s growth.

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