How to Handle Crisis as an F&B Business Owner


Photo by henry perks from unsplash


Somebody lodged a complaint against you? Somebody ended up in the hospital because of your food? Netizens blasting you on social media? A crisis is unfolding before your eyes, so what do you do then?


What is deemed as a crisis in your F&B business? A restaurant crisis is essentially referring to a loss or impairment to the regular functioning of the business and the impact, possibly negative, on its brand and reputation. Therefore, having a solid crisis management plan is crucial to the survival of your F&B business. The plan and strategies will ensure that your business can respond and recover in the shortest time possible.


There are three stages in a crisis management – (1) Pre-crisis, also known as the prevention phase, (2) crisis response and (3) post-crisis.


This article will focus on the critical stage which has the greatest damage to your brand and reputation if it is not handled promptly and appropriately – the crisis response stage. We will highlight a few key actions to take during this stage.


First, let us have a glimpse on some of the common mistakes made while handling a crisis during the crisis response stage.


Some common mistakes in handling a crisis include:

  • Slow to respond

  • Failure to take accountability

  • Not honest and insincere

  • Avoiding (social) media

With this in mind, you need to ensure your crisis management plan does not fall in those categories to avoid further disastrous impact on your business.


Try this simple FASM strategy for your business’s crisis management!


Be FAST!


Remember, whatever you need to do, the end goal is to keep the damage done to the business to a minimum. Hence, one of the key things to note is that your response needs to be swift.


Take a look at the case of IRVINS Salted Egg. Their response was posted on Facebook after more than 80 hours! Fortunately for them, the response was sincere and genuine. Should they have done so earlier, they would have reduced many negative sentiments online. Netizens and reporters, especially keyboard warriors, are infamous for being impatient. Do it before they pile up and spread negativity!


Tip: Do not say ‘no comment’ to buy time as it will seem like you are deflecting responsibility.


Be ACCOUNTABLE!


Do not push the blame to anyone be it the staff or the customer! Take responsibility for the mistake.


In 2015, Hotpot Culture faced its greatest crisis. A dead rat was found in one of the dishes and pictures of it went viral. Even though the eatery’s supervisor denied the claims, Hotpot Culture’s owner, Mr Lim, admitted that the incident did happen. He briefly mentioned that the chef was given a warning letter, but he went on to elaborate that it was also due to a lapse in their process of handling food. He took accountability of it and did not focus on finger-pointing. He instructed a slew of compensations to the affected customers and also, to the general public! Great PR move!


Compensation strategy is another important point to note. Speak to our dedicated team in Protegie to learn more!


In short, being accountable and showing goodwill says a lot about your brand.



Be SINCERE!


We can sense sincerity when it is shown. Allow yourself to be human and be honest with the situation. A genuine and heartfelt apology goes a long way. Take the lead from IRVINS Salted Egg and Hotpot Culture’s bosses. They came out personally to address the crises.


Engage the MEDIA!


Rest assured it is more than okay to communicate on social media. It will be welcomed by netizens that you took the effort and time to engage the concerned public proactively. Don’t shy away because that could be one of your greatest platforms to market yourself for free! There is a saying in Chinese, Crisis is Opportunity. Let the public see how your brand is mature and reliable, and restore their faith in you.


Crisis management is becoming more complex and essential with almost everyone using social media in one form or another. News can spread like wildfire with just one post, and just one click. You need to prepare for it early. Have a crisis management plan ready.


Protegie has the expertise and experience to provide a range of crisis management strategies that can complement your brand identity. We aim to help your business thrive even during a crisis. Drop us an email to enquire more about our services.