Business interruption planning Admin In the Media (0) Whilst business interruption planning is not the most exciting topic to talk about, in many ways it could possibly be classed as one of the most important topics for your business.Dealerships need to consider potential threats regarding any inherent risks that may present themselves for whatever reason. Once the risks have been identified it is then a matter of working through how they can be mitigated in the event that an unfortunate circumstance was to occur.The majority of small to medium businesses have no plans or provisions in these areas, because they have no requirements to from external parties, like banks or funders. However, if something did happen it would likely place the daily running of the business in a difficult situation. The reality is though unless you are proactive in this area, nothing will happen until a crisis occurs, which is not what anyone wants to be dealing with, and at this stage it’s too late to plan.I will focus on the two most important areas to first consider as you review your business risk, and these are “Key staff” and “Dealer management system”KEY STAFFThe most at risk point of the business in relation to key staff traditionally sits in the administration department, where one person is responsible for multiple tasks. Departments that have more than one person are slightly less at risk as roles are normally shared and the functioning of the business does not rely on one person. All too often we come across dealerships where the individuals in these roles are stretched beyond capacity and have little or no opportunity for any time off, or much needed annual leave. That tells me the business heavily relies on the responsibilities and function of that role, and more critically, that person in that role.What are some of the steps you can take to limit the impact of being so reliant on key staff?-Transfer of knowledge to other staff members. This transfer of knowledge needs to be exercised regularly as planned backup, otherwise tasks will be forgotten. If used regularly, downtime would be limited in the hand over and the person regularly in that position would feel there is someone to take over if required.-Document processes, this will assist the backup, or the new person required to fill the role.-Refinement of process and utilisation of all the efficiencies that are available. Review everything that you do currently and challenge as to why you do it that way, and is that the smartest way to do it in the future. Doing this will likely enhance productivity, realise some efficiency’s, and most of all de-risk the business around an individual.DEALER MANAGEMENT SYSTEMThis area is one which like key staff, over time and without you realising it, becomes a critical component that your business heavily relies upon. This area is often overlooked as to what should happen if something unplanned was to happen. It’s not easy to plan for every scenario, but here are some questions for consideration and planning that may limit any negative impact:-System/data backup, along with service & support – What is currently in place with your system provider? How do you access it? Who do you contact? What are the timeframes in being back up in running if you were to lose, say, your computers to theft or fire?-Is your plan documented somewhere so all staff know what the process is for getting operational again? Is this accessible in hard copy somewhere (not just saved in the computer that was just stolen, or smouldering in the corner)?There are examples at varying degrees of extremity, where dealerships have been caught out with no planning or provision for when an unplanned event occurs. Being proactive now and dedicating a little time to plan for some business continuity, is very likely to be the difference that could save a world of stress and pressure down the track. The time involved to get back on track could potentially be months when reacting to a crisis, therefore take a few hours now and invest in the future planning of your business to reduce any risks that may materialise.