Recently in Risk Management Category

Reputation marketing isn't something to be improvised. I always encourage my clients to take the offensive when it comes to their reputation. Most companies have an area or two where they operate in the crisis management mode and can get away with it.

Given today's connected society reputation marketing is an area that can have the greatest impact in the shortest amount of time.

Every company from a major corporation to a solo entrepreneur working at home has to have a solid plan for managing its reputation. There are five steps to doing this effectively.

Step 1 - Brainstorm Possible Reputation Damage Scenarios

Sit down and make a huge list of all of the different things that can happen. Imagine everything from a small bump in the road to a major emergency. The most obvious problem would be a negative post somewhere complaining about your company's service. There may also be a situation where a customer doesn't understand your company's policies and the complaint comes from this misunderstanding.

Brainstorm each place where a comment could appear so that you can create a plan for dealing with each. Examples would be personal blogs, your blog comments, social media sites, online forums, review sites, etc.

Step 2 - Determine the Best Response

For each item on your list, decide what would be the best response. Consider it from the point of view of other customers who will be watching. For example, you might respond to a complaint on Facebook by engaging with the customer, asking them to clarify, empathizing with them, and then offering them a solution.

To other users who are reading the thread, your company shows that it cares about customers and not just its own reputation.

Included in this plan should be a chain of command notification. When a problem is discovered, how will it be communicated to everyone in the company who needs to know?

Step 3 - Set up a Plan for Monitoring

You know what to look for. The next step is to decide how to monitor. One way to monitor all online content is through alert notification programs like Google Alerts.

You may also routinely check Twitter using hashtags and Facebook by searching posts or using HyperAlerts.

You might identify certain online forums, review sites, and other sites where you're likely to be mentioned for monitoring.

Step 4 - Delegate Monitoring

Put someone in your company in charge of monitoring.

You may want to delegate to several staff members. For example, if a certain staff member handles your Facebook account, put them in charge of monitoring Facebook for comments.

Make sure everyone is on the same page with all procedures for dealing with negative comments.

Step 5 - Create Positive Content

This step is often forgotten. In addition to doing damage control, reputation marketing is also about creating content that shows your company in a positive light.

Seek testimonials and reviews from your customers and create fresh content on your website, social media sites, and blog. Positive content will off-set any negative content.

This is an ongoing job, so make things like soliciting feedback from customers a regular part of your sales process.

Many companies and online professionals decide to outsource reputation marketing to a company that specializes in this field. These companies have experience and tools to manage a company's reputation comprehensively.

Look on what on your strategic plan for the next 6 months? Do you have a plan? Make this a priority.

For the 5 Most Fascinating Stories in Franchising, a weekly report, click here & sign up.

To best protect its interests, an employer who suspects that one of its employees is stealing should immediately consult the company's attorney for advice.

Investigating Employee Theft

Typically, the attorney will advise the employer to take steps that include the following:

1. Commence the Investigation Promptly: A small business owner should initiate the investigation of a purported theft by an employee immediately. This prevents the employer from running afoul of criminal and civil statutes of limitation.

2. Place a Third-party Employee in Charge of the Investigation: A management employee other than the supervisor who first observed or reported the theft should perform the investigation. This avoids the taint of bias that a more involved player would bring to the investigation. In addition, the employer should interview the accused in the presence of a witness.

3. Maintain Strict Confidentiality: Maintaining strict confidentiality throughout the investigation is essential. Failure to act discretely in handling an employee theft can subject the company to defamation claims by the accused employee.

4. Document the Investigation: It is also important to document all interviews when investigating the claimed theft. The employer should gather evidence that sufficiently assures that the theft from the company occurred and was committed by the employee. This evidence will be useful in several arenas: in furthering a criminal or civil prosecution of the accused, in collecting from an insurance company if the company is insured against employee theft, and in defending against a possible wrongful discharge action against the employer.

5. Notify the Bonding Company or Insurance Company: If the company maintains a fiduciary bond or employee dishonesty insurance, then the company must notify the bonding company or insurance company immediately upon finding out about the loss.

6. Notify the Authorities: The employer may wish to file criminal charges against the former employee. If the company files a criminal complaint, an investigation by the police or other governmental agents would occur.

If the prosecutor decides to pursue the case, the employer can seek restitution through a criminal proceeding without having to file a civil action.

Regardless of whether a criminal action is maintained, the employer should consider filing a civil action against the former employee to recover the value of the stolen items.

Preventing Employee Theft

To proactively help a small business owner control employee theft, an attorney will counsel the small business owner as to what is permissible under the law. Several deterrent steps can be taken, such as the following:

1. Supervision: The employer should have in place regularly scheduled reviews, reporting processes, and other forms of checks and balances which enhance the likeliness of discovering any breaches of honesty. A small business owner is wise not to concentrate supervisory responsibilities in any one employee, but rather to create a structure designed to assure a business ethic of cooperative and appropriate teamwork.

2. Audits: In the fiscal realm in particular, it is prudent for an employer to have audits and other financial oversight procedures in place. Both external and internal financial controls should be a routine part of the company's management.

3. Video Surveillance: The small business owner may consider other, more creative ways of supervising the work area, such as maintaining video surveillance of its employees in the workplace. However, the video surveillance cannot include sound, as surveillance using sound recording has been found to violate an individual's right to privacy. Video surveillance must be limited to areas which are not inherently private in nature, such as a dressing room or a bathroom.

4.  E-mail Access: Additionally, employers should have an employment policy allowing them free access to all employee e-mails. The attorney will advise the business owner as to how to protect its interests without infringing on the constitutional rights of its employees.

Customers come in daily, revenue is growing and your business is thriving.  Why, at the end of the month, are you not able to show a profit?  Do you need greater volume?  Or is something else going on?

I once owned a Business Centre offering more than 20 individual services. 

Some services were sold each day while others were infrequent. 

One offering was postal services which included the sale of postage stamps.  This was a convenience offering also available at any post office.

Within my industry the sale of postage stamps typically resulted in little to no profit but considered to be a necessary offering.  It was seen as a way to increase traffic flow and demand for the more profitable services that were offered.

After evaluating this area of business for two years I concluded that the sale of postage stamps was too costly.  Transactions were frequent, of low value and low margin. 

After factoring in overhead and staffing, I concluded it was not possible to profit from offering postage stamps. 

More importantly, I noted that virtually all postage customers had no interest in anything else offered in the store.  I discontinued the sale of postage stamps.  The result was reduced staffing, fewer customers, improved cash flow, a higher average sale and improved overall profitability.

My decision to discontinue the sale of postage stamps would not have been possible without the ability to track sales and expenses by profit centre.

Many businesses operate with an inadequate understanding of how their business makes money.   They lack the management systems and controls to evaluate the profitability of their multiple offerings, isolate those that result in the most profit and focus more acutely on how to build those more profitable areas of the business.

Investing in good management control systems is the foundation upon which successful businesses are built.

Follow Us

About this Archive

This page is an archive of recent entries in the Risk Management category.

PCI Compliance is the previous category.

Site Selection is the next category.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.