How a crisis plan keeps a business running from home

It’s one thing to plan for a work crisis on paper, but then it actually happens. And it happens quickly. John R. Benton Jr., ChFC, CLTC, a 16-year MDRT member, has had a crisis plan since mid-2016. COVID-19 put it to the test.

Benton’s staff of 16, which includes his wife and two daughters, closed their Warren, New Jersey office per state COVID-19 mandates. They used their crisis plan to keep their business operating from their homes, and here’s how that worked.

Safety first

First of all, Benton reassured his staff that safety is his primary concern. Next, he let them know he would continue to be there for them financially. They would all stay employed, and paychecks would not stop. He even gave one person a raise so she could be insured.

Communication with clients

“Clients need access to information, their money and advisors. Service takes precedence over growing the business,” Benton said.

To quickly communicate to clients, Benton’s staff immediately posted on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter and sent emails to all clients about their business continuity plan for emergencies and disasters.

As it was, most of his client interactions were typically via Skype and phone, so his clients were accustomed to those methods of communication from his staff. When staff began calling clients, they found there was an interesting, unexpected byproduct from the last financial downturn. Clients knew that markets drop and markets also rebound in time, so only a few clients worried about the markets. What they wanted to hear from Benton and his team was the reassurance that they were available.

“We let them know that we’re open, we’re here and we care about them,” Benton said.

To make sure they keep the lines of communication open, the team member in charge of the scheduling is in constant contact with their top 20 clients and schedules calls for advisors from sunup to past sundown. Client annual reviews are continuing as well, although it’s all either through video or phone.

Communicating with staff

Benton meets regularly through team meetings on his conference line. There are three teams — financial planning, property and casualty, and service — and they use the office’s other conference call lines to have team meetings every morning to talk about workloads and challenges. They also discuss what happened yesterday, what has to happen today and what needs to happen tomorrow.

Furthermore, staff is keeping detailed notes. When this is over, they can debrief and create an even better crisis plan, which will enable them to deliver even better service to their clients and teammates.

John Benton

See more from John Benton in the video “Let go and lead.”

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  • Great advice John, We’re doing exactly the same here in Ireland. We use 3 principles in our business;
    1. Don’t panic,
    2. Stay invested,
    3. Keep talking to your client/advisor.

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