The Impact of Downtime on Your Business
If you’re the owner of a business, no matter the size, you’ll know that there are many factors that determine its success. There are plenty of areas that become incredibly costly if you don’t keep tabs on them. One of these areas is downtime.
Depending on the industry you are in, if not managed properly, the full cost of downtime could come in at hundreds if not thousands of Rand per hour. That said, downtime doesn’t only affect revenue. In fact, the impact of downtime could reach far across many areas of your business that will ultimately affect your bottom line in ways you may not have considered or anticipated.
There are few kinds of downtime to consider:
As a general rule, this kind of downtime is best planned for over weekends, after-hours and not during any scheduled business trading hours.
Sometimes it is unavoidable that downtime must be scheduled over trading hours. In such a case, it’s best to advise your customers well in advance and remind them again prior to the event.
Try to work ahead of schedule where possible and ensure that all client work is up to date. This will hopefully ensure that you have minimal casualties during the downtime.
This type of downtime has a habit coming at you out of nowhere and hitting you like a ton of bricks. And, as Murphy’s Law would have it, it’s usually at the worst time of the month or the busiest time of the day.
The main causes of unplanned downtime are generally attributed to hardware failure, software crashes or natural disasters. If your business downtime is unplanned, do your utmost to make sure that you get the message out to your customers via social media or telephone so that they are aware of the problem and that it is receiving your attention for speedy resolution.
How does downtime affect a business?
Depending on the industry you are in, the impact of downtime on your business can vary greatly in their severity. These effects include, but aren’t limited to:
1. Loss of revenue or additional costs incurred, reducing profitability
2. IT recovery costs
3. Negative effects on staff productivity and morale
4. Potential employee overtime costs to recover work lost, catching up, etc.
5. Supply chain ripple effects.
Aside from the tangible effects on your business, there are other intangible effects that may be harder to quantify in Rands and cents:
1. Loss of customer confidence and/or customer dissatisfaction
2. Low employee morale or turnover due to stress/consequences of downtime
3. Brand damage.
How do I manage downtime?
The most important way to manage the impact of downtime is to effectively communicate with your staff, customers and service providers. There is nothing more frustrating and stress-provoking for these key groups than a lack of communication.
Managing their expectations is essential to keeping things afloat in the midst of chaos. Keep the channels of communications open, then do whatever needs to be done to minimize the duration of the downtime.
The chances of downtime are inevitable, especially in South Africa. Simply consider Eskom’s impromptu power outages and you’ll understand just how vital it is to be prepared. Vehicle downtime can also be crushing.
Here are two suggestions that will help you minimise the impact of downtime on your business:
1. Work ahead of schedule (if it’s possible in your industry)
2. Always have a charged laptop with 3G card available in case of a power failure, so any pressing matters can still be attended to during this period.
The effects of downtime, no matter the scale, are significant enough to warrant precautionary measures. Therefore, it is crucial to limit the frequency and duration of downtime if you want to keep your business afloat.
When downtime hits, be ready to hit back. Preparation is key.