First 3 Steps to Follow if Your Company Runs Into an Emergency

Following these three simple steps can help you pull through almost any situation your company could run into

I started in the plumbing industry in 1997, working as a drain technician for a national plumbing company whose claim to fame was making customers troubles go down the drain. I learned the trade and honed my skills. After more than 23 years in the field, I now work for a company that teaches contractors how to build a better business with the goal of exiting profitably. 

For most of those 23 years, I also worked as an aircraft mechanic in the U.S. Air Force and as a flight engineer in the Texas Air National Guard. I found that the requirement of following processes, procedures and checklists in the military helped me to grow as a plumber. I developed my own processes with the tasks that I did regularly. Not only did it help me to be more efficient, but it also helped me keep my callback percentage below 3%, and my close rate above 95%. When I transitioned to work with Service Nation, I realized that my unique perspective on the use of procedures could help contractors, especially when their business faces a crisis.

Managing in-flight emergencies is one of the things that any flight crew on an aircraft needs to be prepared to deal with. The flight manual for a C-130 has a checklist for all known emergencies. Regardless of the emergency, the first three steps are always the same:

1. Maintain directional control.

2. Analyze the situation.

3. Take coordinated corrective action.

You may have noticed that I said that the flight manual has a checklist for “all known emergencies.” No matter how prepared you feel, there are always unforeseen circumstances that can happen. When these things happen, you may not have all the answers, but if you follow the first three steps, you will be much better prepared to deal with the emergency. 

Maintain directional control

This is probably one of the most overlooked steps. In an emergency, it is easy to get so task saturated, and so fixated on the emergency, that nobody is flying the airplane. Several accidents have happened because the crew has been so distracted by solving the crisis that they forget to fly the airplane. 

Whether you have had a major medical emergency, had an employee embezzle money or a mysterious virus quarantine most of the country, someone must run your company. Someone must keep it from flying into the ground. Do you have a plan for emergencies? You should. The most successful contractors have written processes and procedures and make sure key employees are aware of them. This ensures that someone will be there to direct your business if you are not able.

Analyze the situation

Now that you have recognized that there is an emergency, and your business is flying straight and level, it is time to figure out exactly what the issue is and its possible fixes. On the flight deck, depending on the emergency, we may have to do what is called a “controllability check.” Can we safely control the direction of the airplane? Do the flight controls, engines and pressurization work? 

In your business, once you recognize the emergency, it is time to figure out how much damage there is. Are the phones still ringing? Do you have enough staff to take care of your customers? Most important, are all your employees safe? If you are incapacitated, is there someone who can make important decisions, sign checks, pay the bills and make sure that payroll is taken care of? Larger companies have managers, departments and teams that work together to keep the company operating safely and to report the condition of their departments. Smaller companies could work with a coach or a group of like-minded contractors to determine the best way to analyze and recover from an emergency.

Take coordinated corrective action

You notice that it says, “coordinated corrective action.” That means that you talk to your crew — your key people — before you act. It may be your significant other, managers or supervisors, a business coach or a peer. 

Now that you have kept your business from crashing, and you have identified exactly what is going on, it is time to act. Whether you have decided to increase marketing, decided to get a loan to backup operating expenses or you have designated someone you trust to run things when you cannot, you have a plan for when it is needed. After that, you can work as a team to adapt to changing conditions. 

Regardless of the emergency, remain calm. Having a plan in place means you will be leading and making decisive actions, they will be backing you up. When emergencies arise, following these three steps will keep your company safe and productive.  

About the author
Dave Bailey is the vertical market manager, plumbing for Service Nation Inc. and has 25 years working in the plumbing industry — 23 in the field. If you would like to send a message to him, email


Comments on this site are submitted by users and are not endorsed by nor do they reflect the views or opinions of COLE Publishing, Inc. Comments are moderated before being posted.