Tips for developing contingency plans

Think you have your contingency plans sorted? Sometimes there are factors beyond your control – weather being a prime example. My Business speaks with one weather-dependent business about how they plan for the worst.

If your business involves the great outdoors, you'll sometimes have to deal with the weather turning out of your favour.

Speaking on the My Business Podcast, Aaron Shaw, managing director of Sydney Seaplanes, says his first port of call for contingency planning is using technology to predict the weather.

“We use a lot of technology to anticipate those types of scenarios: weather radars and wind recording, data from a variety of places around Sydney which the Bureau of Meteorology provides,” explains Aaron.

“We try and anticipate those things, and when thunderstorms come through they generally move in quite quickly, so we can sit them out and wait for them to move offshore. That may mean delaying a flight by half an hour.

A businessman makes a plan“If weather wasn't a part of this business, we would be rolling around in money.”

If the weather looks too dangerous, Aaron has alternative options in place to ensure the customer still has a positive experience.

“In that case, we would provide vehicle transfer back and give people a voucher to use for that flight on another day,” Aaron says.

“There is thunder, there is lightning, and the last thing you want to be [doing] is taking off in a light aircraft. No one wants to be doing that.”

These arrangements aren't left until the last minute, however. Aaron says he takes a proactive approach with his customers to make sure that their needs are met, keeping in constant communication with them ahead of time to manage their expectations.

“What we do is we really focus on the weather and we look two or three days out all the time,” he explains.

“If we know about a person like that who has got something very special lined up for the day, and it's not proposals, it could be a corporate event for instance, and they've got people coming in from interstate and the like, we give people a heads-up and say, 'Hey, look. Saturday is looking really pretty average at this stage in terms of the forecast, so we need to start looking at a plan B together in case it doesn't work out on the day'.

“If you communicate well with people, well in advance of what may or may not occur, they are generally very good about it because they know that it's not something that is within our control.”

If the situation looks bleak, Aaron ensures that the customer ends up having a positive experience, even if it doesn’t directly involve his business. For example, if his customers are going to a restaurant, he may provide a chauffeur-driven car to take them there.

“We do our best to minimise that disappointment or inconvenience, but it's about looking ahead and giving people prior notice so that we're not just sort of shocking them on the day while they are there standing in front of us.”

All of Aaron’s contingency plans come down to maintaining a safe environment for the customer.

“People have to have confidence in an aviation product,” he says.

“We run a safe business, and we do that through a really conservative approach to weather management, and through those things like highly experienced, skilled pilots and maintenance.”

Hear more insights from Aaron, including on operating in an environment with copious red tape and forming relationships with other businesses for mutual benefit, on the My Business Podcast now!

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