USA Today and Nation’s Restaurant News published articles shortly after the terrorist attacks in Brussels a few days ago stating that U.S. brands such as Starbucks and Domino’s would temporarily shut-down operations in the entire country, while others such as McDonald’s and Pizza Hut had not taken any particular action (it is reported McDonald’s closed one unit), and while this is not the appropriate forum for discussions on political views it is certainly appropriate to discuss how events such as this can affect your international operations.
International development is all about strategy and preparation, making sure that all risks are, as much as possible, accounted for and mitigated. Great amounts of time, effort and resources are spent in making sure that your organization is ready, you searched high-and-low to find not only the perfect international investor, but also you turned every possible stone to find the right local products and services that meet your high-quality standards, and when everything is finally in place…
An important part of doing business internationally (and domestically in some instances) is to understand that there will be things completely out of our control, be it a senseless terrorist attack such as the ones in Paris and Brussels, a natural disaster such as the Tsunamis in Thailand and Japan, or the influenza epidemic in Mexico City. Understanding that while we will surely not have a contingency plan in place for each and every situation, being able to react, make quick, yet informed decisions, and respond decisively will be key.
It is also important to realize that in these types of situations there is, for the most part, not a right or wrong answer if we act with morality and ethics, having, first and foremost, the safety and well-being of our international team in mind; however, and to further complicate things, the final decision on what to do and how to do it may not be entirely ours as we will most likely have an international partner that is running the operations and we will have to trust that they will act the same way we would and not jeopardize our brand, and most importantly, our team.
The SBA (Small Business Administration) states that one out of four businesses won’t be able to re-open after a major disaster, so if you do not have a current Disaster Recovery Plan, although very unfortunate, may these recent events serve as a reminder that it is important to be prepared.
Roberto Litwak COO