A product safety recall can be a scary situation for business owners, even when it's not your product.
The recent Trek recall of some 900,000 bikes is a case in point.
Zane's Cycles, an independent bike dealer based in Branford, Connecticut, has been fielding more than 100 phone calls per day since Wednesday when the recall was announced. Trek is replacing a small front wheel lever found on less than 5 percent of its bikes.
Zane's expects it may take a small financial hit and the replacement work to last about two weeks. "Our resources are going towards satisfying the recall customers," says founder Chris Zane, who founded the company which is known for its customer service and has become one of the largest independent bicycle distributors.
So how can entrepreneurs prepare for the blowback of a product recall? Here are three tips Zane says business owners should keep in mind when dealing with a crisis situation.
1. Get your team on the same page. The first thing Zane did in response to the crisis was to get everyone in the company up to speed on what to say and do when customers ask about the recall. The key, according to Zane, is put yourself in your customers' shoes. "Think about your customers not knowing whether or not they're affected by the recall and whether or not this is a crisis or something that just needs to be managed," he says.
2. Call in backup. To handle the extra customers and inquiries, Zane's has added additional staff so customers don't have to wait to talk to associates or listen to a busy signal. "You have to know that you're going to get 100 phone calls in a day and you have to make sure you've got people to handle that," Zane says. "Once we saw that this recall was coming down the pipeline, we ramped up all the processes that we have."
3. Make lemons out of lemonade. Instead of sounding alarm bells, Zane is responding to increased workload in a positive way. "If you look at it as an opportunity to engage and spend time with your customers that you might not have had, then at least the effort and energy doesn't go to waste," he says. "It's hard for me to re-engage my customers, because once they have their product, they're out using it."
For information on the safety recall notice and to see which bikes are affected, check out Trek's website.