When it comes to disasters like the recent hurricanes, we know that the key is preparation. This is especially true for your business. One big question is what happens to your business after a disaster? What steps can your business take today to prepare for navigating the aftermath of a disaster situation? Here’s the truth: according to the New Jersey Business Action Center, 40% of businesses do NOT reopen after a disaster. This NYC Professional Office Organizer urges you to prepare today so that you can be in the successful 60% that reopen.
Step One: Plan For Communication. After an emergency, you don’t want to leave your employees, associates, and customers wondering what is going on. To prepare, make sure that you have an up-to- date database of phone numbers and email addresses that you are able to access without being in the office. Make sure to include personal phone numbers and email addresses of your employees, as they are likely to not have access to office email. Include contact information for colleagues, suppliers, and anyone else who you may need to get in touch with as you prepare to reopen.
After a disaster has occurred, keep the lines of communication open. Contact your staff and fill them in on what is going on; it’s better for them to hear from YOU rather than to get their information from the media. Utilize your social media channels to inform your customers near and far of your plans. Don’t leave them guessing. Forward your office phone to a cell phone and make sure you can access your business email and electronic files remotely. If you are able to communicate clearly and often, you will instill confidence in your employees, colleagues, and customers that you are effectively managing the situation and will be reopening.
Step Two: Plan For Financial Information. In preparation, make sure that your insurance policy is current and that you have the proper coverage for your needs. Ask your insurance agent about your business’s interruption insurance and understand how that works before a disaster happens. Make sure that you have copies of all important insurance and financial documents in the cloud or off site (or both). You’ll want to be able to easily access those documents as you prepare to reopen. As it’s hard to predict what kind of financial help you may need to reopen, having those documents easily accessible will allow you to immediately handle insurance claims and talk to financial advisors about your next steps.
Step Three: Plan For Space. First, immediately following the disaster, make sure that you secure the building to prevent any further damage or loss. Make sure doors and windows are locked, or boarded up if necessary. Then, before you allow any employees or customers to come back into the building, you need to take steps to ensure the building is safe. Have the building inspected, assess any damage, and have your gas, electricity, water, and phone services restored first. Your priority needs to be safety in this situation, so make sure that you only allow people into the building in areas free of any debris or other dangers.
Important Reminders: In any type of disaster, the first priority should be the people. Ensuring the safety of yourself, your employees, your customers, all should come first. They will appreciate your concern, as well, and their loyalty will help you to reopen and get your business back on track. Remember that in a disaster situation, anxiety and emotions are high, so touching base and holding regular meetings will be helpful in keeping communication open and
ensuring trust in your company. It might make sense to bring in employee assistance services or a crisis management team to help employees deal with the stress and emotional hurdles of the aftermath. If the disaster you are dealing with is area-wide, make note that your employees and colleagues may be dealing with their own loss of property outside of work, so including accommodations like carpooling, on-site daycare, or even flexible scheduling may help.
Though a disaster is inevitably a tough situation to navigate through, with some preparation and remembering these strategies from this NYC Professional Office Organizer, you will be able to confidently reopen your business and move forward.