You’ve heard it before: The time to prepare for a _________ is before you the ____________. In this case the blanks are related to business emergencies like natural disasters. In Florida we are all aware that hurricane season is from the beginning of June until the end of November. Those of us who have lived/worked in Florida for more than 5 years have direct experience on what a hurricane can do to your business.
The statistics are alarming: according to the Small Business Administration, the average cost of a business shut down due to a natural disaster can be upwards of $3,000 per day. And an alarming 40% of businesses fail or never reopen after a disaster.
Ready.gov and Disastersafety.org are two very useful websites to check out for more information.
Here are 5 things to consider including in an Emergency Preparedness Manual:
- Communications plan.
- You should include details on how you will communicate with your staff during an emergency.
- Appoint one or two team members who are the company point people and require all staff to check in on a daily basis during an emergency.
- We have a policy that the office will remain closed until Dade County Public Schools reopens.
- Equally important is what you communicate to your clients/vendors and customers.
- Consider including a message with a note about business closing dates and a number to be used for emergencies.
- Contact vendors and let them know the anticipated emergency dates and arrange for new delivery dates.
- Document protection. Make sure that all documents are backed up on the cloud. Keep hard copies of documents you may need in case power outages prevent you from accessing them via the internet.
- Review your insurance coverage. It goes without saying that your business insurance policies should be kept up to date. Review the type and amount of coverage you have to insure that you are adequately covered.
- Identify a second/backup site for office work in case your office is damaged and needs repairs. Consider telecommuting options that will be used during emergencies.
- Resources to access after the disaster. (In the spirit of this article, you should start researching these before the disaster to make sure you have access to all of the documents you will need).
- Small Business Administration loans
- FEMA programs
- Your local city and county Economic Development Agencies
It’s a good policy to offer your staff a paid time off day to get ready for seasonal emergencies. They can use that day to update their medical prescriptions, to buy emergency supplies, and to check on shutters/tools/materials needed. This will go a long way to alleviate the last minute rush and stress of emergency preparations.
“Emergency Preparedness Checklist”
Not a certified WBE? Click here for information on how you can gain access and opportunities for business development.
Click here for more information on how you can join the Her Community Membership Program