A Dallas company made national headlines for all the wrong reasons this spring when Blue Bell – which produces tens of millions of gallons of ice cream sold in grocery stores around the country – was found to be responsible for a Listeria outbreak.
The company has since taken the kinds of steps you would expect, furloughing plants, laying off employees, and working with state and federal health inspectors to show there won’t be any future issues.
Although many expected Blue Bell to disappear altogether, it seems as if the company is on the road to recovery, both financially and in terms of rebuilding their reputation. Clawing their way back into business has been no easy task, of course, and there were lessons business owners and executives can take from these events to help them avoid trouble in their own organizations.
Here are three in particular you should pay attention to:
#1: Trouble Always Comes From Unexpected Places
Before news of the Listeria outbreak hit, you can bet Blue Bell’s management team was focused on things like pricing, competitors, and market share… just as most of us are every day. But even though dealing with these challenges is important, it’s critical that we never take our eye off the bigger picture. Things like safety, customer satisfaction, and even employee management deserve our attention even when they don’t seem pressing.
#2: Cash Reserves Mean Everything in Times of Trouble
Once it became clear that Blue Bell couldn’t keep producing or selling ice cream, executives had to make some quick and difficult decisions about how they would survive without any new revenue coming in. Most small and medium-sized companies will face that kind of challenge eventually. When these troubles hit, having cash reserves you can turn to and stay afloat for a few months or quarters at a time can make all the difference.
#3: The Right Messaging Can Make or Break You in a Crisis
One thing Blue Bell definitely did right was to follow their instincts and communicate with customers, health inspectors, and the public at large. By immediately ceasing deliveries and letting buyers know that they were serious about protecting everyone’s health (and not in ducking responsibility) they paved the way for those customers to come back when the time is right. The simple decision to follow the correct path with their messaging might be the one that ultimately ends up restoring the company back to profitability.
There’s never a good time to have things go wrong with your company, but looking for issues ahead of time, preparing for rough patches, and having the right marketing and messaging can mean the difference between enduring a tough time and going out of business altogether. Are you ready to deal with the unexpected?
If you don’t have the kind of marketing and design team that can help you build and re-build your brand when you need it most, maybe it’s time to schedule a free consultation with the WebRevelation team.