Speakers: Ensure your company has a crisis-survival plan
LAS VEGAS — Until 2011, roofing contractor KPost Co. was figuratively — and often literally — on top.
The 7-year-old Dallas-based roofing contractor, whose services include architectural sheet metal and rooftop curb fabrication and installations for HVAC equipment, had been doing well.
Revenues had steadily grown from $8 million its first year to $26 million five years later and its workforce had expanded from 11 to almost 200. The company had taken part in a number of high-profile projects in the region, including hotels, stadiums and museums.
But from 2011-2015, KPost had a streak of problems. A salesperson responsible for $7 million in annual revenue left for a larger competitor. A vice president who had been with the company since its 2004 start took an operations position with another firm. Another longtime worker retired and a vice president expected to one day run the company died in a car accident. Lastly, 45 employees were lost after a raid by the Immigration and Naturalization Service.
KPost President Steve Little and CFO Jayne Williams said they were determined to survive the blows. The two came to the International Roofing Expo March 2 for a session on making it past the loss of key employees.
If you are facing the sudden loss of executive staff, Little said you don’t want to react impulsively.
“Take the time to manage the crisis,” he said. You need to figure out what to say to customers and employees before it starts causing problems.
“The first thing you need to do is appoint a spokesperson and tell your employees, so the message is consistent in the marketplace” Little said. “You need to demonstrate to everyone — internal and external — that it’s business as usual.”
Company officials were quick to contact suppliers and representatives, short-circuiting the industry’s rumor mill.
When some of these events happened to KPost, remaining executives visited key accounts, reassuring them that the company was sound. They kept all client meetings without needing to reschedule.
“In this situation, you want to control as much of the message as you can,” Williams added.
Williams and Little showed the audience the company’s crisis checklist, which listed tasks such as writing a press release and contacting insurance providers, along with a list of who is responsible and that person’s backup.