Many restaurant owners and operators spend substantial time and resources building brand awareness. If you also actively assess and formulate plans to address risks your restaurant may face, you can get ahead of a potential crisis that could negatively impact brand value. At the 2016 Human Resources & Risk and Safety Executive Study Group, McDonald’s director of global risk intelligence, Ryan Long, discussed how to implement a risk intelligence program that can help you identify risks and make quicker, more informed decisions:

1. Assess brand risks. To begin understanding the potential risks faced by your restaurant, determine what matters to your brand. Collect information from your internal stakeholders, social and traditional media, public information on the Internet, commercial risk companies and external partners, such as other restaurateurs and law enforcement, by asking them what they perceive to be possible risks. Catalogue the information you gather in a way that is easily accessible to your internal teams, which can include risk analysts and human resources leaders.

2. Develop your restaurant’s early warning system. Try to identify threats before they happen. Analyze the information you have, extract what’s important, and begin to formulate plans to address risks. First, ask what or whom – the brand, operations or people – is impacted by the risk. Second, assess how physically close the threat could be to people, operations or your restaurant. Third, ask if the threat is relevant to your brand image; in other words, does it matter to you, or will it affect your reputation? Fourth, take a look at the legitimacy of your source. Can you trust that they’re sharing valid information? Fifth, evaluate the relevant time frame. When was the potential threat uncovered, and is it still a threat now?

3. Name your critical information hub. Within your brand, determine who should disseminate time sensitive, critical information to whom and in what fashion. Assign responsibility to eliminate confusion and mixed messaging. To streamline the process, consider the technology you have in place and dive into how it can be used most efficiently in a risk management scenario.