Emergency planning…really? You have a business to run and grow, so who has time for planning?

Simply put, a small amount of planning in advance will save you in the event of disaster, and can get you back up and running in a very short time. In fact, that can be a powerful competitive advantage, and if well planned, you can be up, running, and making sales sooner that your competitors.

In 2004, Hurricane Charley was churning northeast through the Gulf of Mexico, along the Florida coast. Forecasting models predicted a direct hit around Tampa. Businesses and government offices closed, evacuation orders were issued, and Tampa Bay prepared for the worst.

Then, hours before the scheduled landfall, upper level steering currents turned the trajectory of Hurricane Charley sharply to the east. It made landfall near Ft Myers, almost 200 miles south of Tampa. Tampa’s effects from the hurricane was wind and heavy rain, but little damage otherwise.

Businesses that were closed that night remained closed. A few braved the storm. A local gyro shop made the news for staying open, with long lines stretching down the block. There was nowhere else available to eat that night. In that case, the risk of staying open worked out for them.

Are you ready? Take this simple and free assessment offered by the American Red Cross. There are simple things you can do to ensure your readiness.

  1. Have adequate insurance. If a hurricane is heading your way, insurance will not be available for purchase 72 hours or less before expected landfall. However, you can insure almost anything; inventory, loss of revenue, loss of key personnel, fire, flood, and the list goes on. If you are unsure of what insurance to buy, get opinions from at least three insurance agents. Why three? Remember, insurance agents work on commission, so they have a vested interest in selling you as much insurance as possible. Get information from three different sources and insure according to what makes sense for you. Get fast, free quotes here.
  2. Employee phone tree. If your business has many employees, set up a system to inform employees. One person calls the next, and that person calls the next and so on. This ensures that one manager does not have to make several phone calls while in the middle of an emergency.
  3. Store important records in advance. Always have three years (if applicable) of the books stored in a safe, water resistant and fire resistant area. You should have profit/loss statements (also known as an income statement), along with balance sheets, and cash flow statements. You may need a bridge loan to fund the business until your insurance claims are paid. These statements will be requested by the bank. Other records include inventories or customer records.
  4. Have a plan to access and re-open your business as quickly as possible. It could be a different location, or the same one. Opening quickly can be a huge competitive advantage.

This series will cover storm damage, cyberthreats, fire, and even terrorism.

Stay safe.