With the devastation people have experienced this hurricane season in both Texas and now in Florida it is a wise time to create a natural disaster preparedness plan for your business. The risks your business will face are going to be different depending upon where your business is located and the industry you operate in. speaking with a risk management professional can be the first step towards determining how much risk your business faces, what types of risk you actually face and how to best mitigate those risks. Here are four tips to help you protect your business from the impact of a natural disaster.
What can the Business Community learn about Natural Disaster Preparedness from the hurricanes in Texas and Florida?
Call your insurance agent
Every disaster readiness plan should start with a phone call or in person meeting with your insurance agent. It is wise to partner with an independent insurance agent because they interact with many different carriers and can do a better job of making sure your business gets the most extensive coverage at rock bottom prices. Insurance agents also have a unique perspective because they interact with customers on a daily basis who have had to file a claim when something went wrong at their business. They can use those experiences to help you realize risks you may not realize you face and they can help you protect your business to the fullest.
Create a Disaster Readiness Kit
Depending upon where you live and the industry of your business, the contents of this kit may be defense. The size of your staff will make a difference as well. First aid supplies, batteries, water and canned foods should be the start of this kit. Depending upon how far you want to take your preparedness kit, you can also include a generator, fuel, flashlights or even solar chargers. Your insurance agent can help you come up with a list of things you may need and ready.gov is a great place to go for guidance.
Create a communication plan and practice it periodically
There are many ways to communicate with your employees during a time of emergency. The best plans have numerous ways to get out a message during a time when communication lines are down. First you need to find the ways in which your employees like to receive their messages. Many people today do a majority of their communicating via their mobile device, but it is not wise to expect all employees to communicate in this manner. Some may still prefer to receive an email, text message or even an actual phone call. Again, the best way to make sure all employees receive the message is to have numerous ways to communicate with your employees. Once you have a plan in place, it is important to test out your system periodically. This is important because you want to know that your messages can get through when electricity and all communications systems are up and running. Once you know the system will work when things are up and running it is important to than test for when one or all of the ways of communicating are down.
Create a Business Continuity Plan
This is especially important if you are not just a regional business. As many people realize right now that when a disaster happens in one area of the country, business keeps on churning in other parts of the country or internationally. If you have businesses that are expecting shipments to be received or services rendered than you need to prepare for when you cannot preform those services. You may find that you need to consult with a lawyer to get language into a contract for when you are not physically able to perform your contractual obligations. It is good to be prepared for this types of situations, but nothing is better than establishing a good relationship with all parties.customers and keeping open good lines of communication. Most people and businesses will understand when a disaster strikes that business may be interrupted. Giving them a heads up if you know in advance a disaster is coming will go a long way towards getting your third parties on your side when you cannot fulfill your obligations because of a natural disaster.