Living in earthquake and wildfire country I am constantly reminded that an effective business emergency disaster planning will make all the difference when disaster does strike.
While there is not much you can do if a Hurricane, Tornado or Earthquake strikes your area you can do some planning to so that when disaster happens you have a plan. Keep in mind all the hard work that you put into growing your business could be meaningless without effective storm preparedness.
Follow these steps to be ready:
Identify potential problems.
Do tornadoes sometimes strike in your area? Are wildfires a threat you have to deal with? Identify which natural disasters are most common in your area and determine your business’s risk factor. Start by preparing for the emergencies that have the highest odds of impacting your business, and work your way down from there.
Complete a business impact analysis.
A business impact analysis helps you predict the potential impact that a disaster could have on your business, including lost or delayed sales and income, increased expenses due to repair work, and delayed implementation of business plans. Completing a BIA helps identify potential problems with your existing disaster preparedness plan, such as customer communication, inventory management or record keeping safeguards.
Create and practice an emergency response plan.
This is the plan that your business will implement in the event of a natural disaster. The plan should include how you will protect employees and customers, manage business operations and communicate during and after the disaster. Practice this plan. How easy is it to exit your office building on foot? How long does it take to reach the designated meeting place? Who will help customers or employees who need mobility assistance?
Create a crisis communications plan.
This is the plan that you will follow when communicating with employees and customers. Your crisis communication plan will help your business respond promptly and accurately during and after the disaster. Determine in advance who will be your spokesperson; a single, unified voice may help protect your business’s reputation with customers.
Protect your financial data.
If your office or store were destroyed tomorrow, what would happen to your business’s financial data? What about customer records or other sensitive company information? An internal and external data backup site can help protect your company records. Remind employees that any data stored on a computer hard drive, rather than a company server, can be lost.
Create a business continuity plan.
How will your business continue to operate in the event of a natural disaster? For example, if your business sells goods or services online, orders may continue to come in – even if your actual storefront is closed. A continuity plan includes how to manage communication with customers and suppliers, how to fulfill order or service contracts, and how to recover lost company data.