Natural disasters have a way of disrupting life and business alike. They damage buildings (residential and commercial), take lives, and even destroy our physical assets. The destruction wreaked by natural disasters is usually so massive that one needs to take proactive steps to protect their property. In the case of businesses, they have to be extra vigilant as it is the question of the entrepreneur’s investment and that of the livelihood of others.
To think that nothing will ever happen to your business is like living in a bubble. The day that bubble will burst, you will have nothing to help you recover. If nothing else, remember an earthquake can happen anywhere and anytime with no warning. The earthquake is just an example and not the only natural calamity that you need to be worried about. The whole point is, to recover from the effects of a catastrophic natural disaster, every business owner needs to have a plan.
Protecting Your Business From Natural Disasters
If you already don’t have a plan in place to help your business get back on its feet as quickly as possible after the natural disaster hits, you need to chalk one out now. Here’s how you need to proceed:
1. Risk Assessment – The first order of business is to assess your vulnerable areas. It begins by determining the most apparent threats to your business. For example, your region might be prone to hurricanes, so they should be your primary concern. But that does not mean you should forget about the rest. The less common disasters can still strike. Hence, you need to fix your highest risk and also prepare for the rest of them. You need to identify the potential consequences of each.
2. Inventory – Now that you know of all the possible threats and consequences, it’s time to take an inventory. Start by pinpointing the critical business functions and the assets involved in its execution. The aim is to get things up and running in the minimal time possible. Even if, at first, your assessment is not accurate, don’t worry. The main point is to get the ball rolling. You can always revisit and change things as you move forward and more information comes to light. The best way to begin is by categorizing your resources into tangible & intangible assets and people. Your machines and systems will be a part of tangible assets. Data and software will fall in intangible assets, and the workforce absolutely necessary to manage them all will be your people. Strictly speaking, this is your first step in safeguarding all that is important to your business.
3. Get Proper Insurance – To protect their enterprise, every business owner must have adequate and proper business or commercial insurance. You will need an insurance cover to protect the business from loss due to the natural disaster and help the employees during the period. It should provide the necessary financial aid to get the business running as soon as possible. Talk to your insurance advisor and review the coverage that is in effect at present. If it seems inadequate, take steps to buy additional cover.
4. Setting Up Safety Protocols – Setting up the safety protocols is all about thinking of ways to address the risk. A few ideas are:
1. Create an emergency plan for vacating the building. Locate all exits and plan an efficient way to vacate the premises as quickly as possible.
2. If your finances allow, you should think of spreading the business to two different locations instead of consolidating everything in one place. The chances of both offices getting hit at the same time are very slim.
3. As the current COVID-19 pandemic has shown, one must also think of work from home protocols.
4. Create a backup of all your data on the cloud. This way, authorized personnel will still be able to access it anytime from anywhere.
5. Establish Contact Procedures – Safety procedures alone are not sufficient. The business owner’s responsibility does not end by ensuring the safety of the employees on-premises.
1. They should warn others who have not yet reached the office and ask them not to come in.
2. Similarly, those who vacate the premises should know whom to contact afterward.
3. There should be a team of people reaching out to the employees and helping relocate them if necessary.
4. You also need to have a communication plan that will inform the customers of the occurrence and the delays it will cause. They, too, should know whom to contact to get complete and updated information.
5. Even the vendors need to be kept in the loop and fully informed, just like your customers.
Many business owners pay little to no attention to these contact procedures and create undue confusion. All of it is entirely avoidable. If you follow proper protocol, your performance in contingency situations will only make your brand easy to trust.
6. Lend A Helping Hand – The work ethics that your company displays during and after the natural disaster hits will either build you up in the community or will become the reason for distrust. If your business is up and running before others by a stroke of luck, it is in your best interests to help others overcome the situation. Your employees can become a part of a search and rescue team, medical aid team, or rebuilding projects. The idea is to get out there in the community and assist those who have borne the brunt of the calamity. Your company and, consequently, the brand will gain their trust. It will be free advertising that also builds the company’s reputation. Moreover, today you are in a position to give help. Tomorrow you might be the one needing help. So what you give is what you will get back. Therefore, a catastrophic situation is not one where you should become Mr. Scrooge.
Commercial insurance or business insurance is the most critical aspect of being disaster-ready. If your policy gives you enough coverage to bear a massive loss, you have the guarantee that you can rebuild everything from scratch. Therefore, engage the services of a reputed independent insurance advisor like Continental Public Adjusters as we are the best people to ensure that all your bases are fully covered and even provide help during claims settlement.