Hurricanes are unpredictable. Some come ashore with the roar of a lion and the bite of a kitten, leaving little damage in their wake. They may shutter businesses and restaurants for a day, while the winds and waters churn, but do little lasting damage. Others, though, forever change the landscape of the cities they impact. Levelling neighborhoods and putting many small and medium-sized businesses out of commission for days, weeks, or even months while rebuilding takes place.
If you own a small or medium-sized businesses in an area where hurricanes are possible, or even likely, it’s a good idea to take heart and make plans, now, for a time when you may not be able to operate from your physical location for a long period of time.
In the aftermath of hurricane Katrina, it wasn’t only the widespread devastation and destruction of property that was the problem. It was also the limited access to builders and supplies necessary to rebuild. Local builders had to prioritize and most of them choose to make million dollar plus projects their priorities. The same thing happened in the aftermath of Sandy. In both instances, many small and medium-sized businesses decided against reopening.
What Happens in the Aftermath of a Major Hurricane?
Many business buildings are damaged after storms like this blow through. It can take a long time to clear out debris, make repairs, find replacement equipment, meet code requirements, etc. Unfortunately, during the weeks when your business is out of commission, the needs of your customers continue on – as do the needs for your employees to earn an income.
What happens is customers, not knowing what’s going on with your business or how long you’ll be out of business, find new businesses to patronize and employees go to work for someone else. This leaves you back at square one once rebuilding is done and you’re ready to reopen.
How can a Business Continuity Readiness Plan Help?
The problem with many of the businesses that did not survive the aftermath of strong storms and long repairs, is that most of them did not have viable readiness plans in place to keep the business running strong – even when the business could not operate at complete capacity.
While some things, like manufacturing and providing some services, cannot be done without physical locations, keeping your customers and employees informed is, perhaps, the most critical step of your continuity plan. Let them know about what services you can supply with a physical location, let employees know about work you have available for them now, and where they need to go to do it. It may be physical labor, like helping to clean out the offices, help with rebuilding, or even shopping for replacement supplies, furniture, and equipment when the time comes.
The key is to protect your investment and your income while you’re still in the rebuilding process.
What Does a Continuity Plan Involve?
Continuity plans will vary greatly from one business to the next. Among the critical aspects of it is protecting customer and employee information; this means offsite data storage. Storing data and files offsite allows you to preserve and protect important documents and records. This means you’ll retain access to them and can reassure customers that their personal and private information is safe and secure. Next, it keeps all the relevant contact information secure; this means you can notify customers by email, phone call, or snail mail about the status of their accounts, your business, and what you can do for them now and in the future.
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