Did you know that even in times of disaster there may be opportunities to find new customers?
In the last 4 years as a Red Cross volunteer, I have had opportunities to work in the logistics team in the Incident Control Centre of Victorian Red Cross emergency response.
Whenever there was a natural disaster, dozens of people were brought in from around the country to respond to the incident. Once on site, these people needed to be supported with the basics, including accommodation, transport and food.
My team and I were responsible for sourcing these supplies locally, often in an area that we weren’t familiar with and with no local contacts. So we would turn to the internet to try to find places for people to stay and a local cafe that would be able to cater sandwiches for lunch.
However, more often than not we had trouble finding basic information of local businesses.
Either businesses had no website or online presence at all, or phone numbers that were listed online were disconnected and we received no response from emails sent.
There was also not enough information for us to assess whether they could meet our needs. How many vacant rooms did they have? Did each room have a private bathroom? Could they make sandwiches for fifty people at a time?
If a quick internet search couldn’t give us the answers we needed, we shifted to the next business that might be able to provide what we required. We simply didn’t have time to make extensive investigations as to who or what was open, available and capable.
That means that plenty of businesses missed out on the opportunity to be our supplier because they were not visible enough online.
My experience at Red Cross and working with communities through Resilient Ready projects shows the importance of promoting your business capabilities online and widely, particularly in times of disaster. It is as simple as; ensuring your contact details are up to date, clearly stating what your business does normally or is capable of providing, such as people, assets, resources, information, products, goods, services, professional support and networks.
Or simply by letting people know on your website or social media IF you are open and back up trading again.
We have said previously that it’s best to have three different income streams to build financial resilience in your business. If you’ve never considered selling your goods and services to emergency services organisations or local, state or federal government, now is the time to consider those options.
If you’re operational and ready to get back to doing business, you’ve got to let people know!