Have you ever heard the phrase “better safe than sorry”? Having a disaster plan is one step in making you safe. As a business owner, the last thing you want to think about is a disaster striking. Today’s disasters are not the same as those of previous generations. We not only have natural disasters which everyone seems to think about, but, with our world being run and controlled by computers, we have IT disasters, data breaches, white hat hacking, black hat hacking and more. I have to impress upon you that, as a business owner, the first thing you need to think about is what to do when a disaster strikes. You put together a business plan to make yourself successful; you should also put together a disaster plan to ensure you will be safe and not sorry.
The Importance of Being Prepared – Create A Plan
One important fact to keep in mind is, according to the Red Cross, 40 percent of small businesses never reopen after a disaster. So let’s get prepared and make sure your business does not become another statistic. I am going to give you a few things to keep in mind when putting together your plan.
1. Consult with Your Insurance Agent
The first step in being prepared for a disaster is a worst-case scenario conversation with your insurance agent. Your insurance agent should be considered a partner in your business. Don’t ever purchase insurance on price, especially for your business. Make sure you have an agent whom you know, you trust and you can sit down with before disaster happens, and go over everything. Make sure you have proper liability coverage for neighboring businesses, contents coverage, loss-of-business coverage, cyber coverage and so on. Also ask your agent straightforwardly, “Are you going to be there for me if something happens?
2. Who Is Ultimately Responsible for What?
The second item you need to consider is, do I own or rent my building?
If you rent, what does my lease cover? And who is responsible for what if something happens? Make sure you know these details ahead of time. If something happens to the structure, who is responsible, and whom do you need to call? Who is your landlord’s contact? Maintenance? How do you shut off the electric? How do you shut off the water? Who are the companies you need to contact? Make sure you have all of those numbers handy somewhere other than your office.
If you own the building, make sure you have all the information gathered into one place and make sure that your employees have it. I would suggest a Google doc that is shared, so if there is an emergency and you are out of town, your employees know who to contact.
3. Have a Photo Archive of … EVERYTHING
The third thing to complete is photos of everything you own. Take time out and photograph all your equipment, furniture, wall hangings, signs, etc. — especially any high-dollar items such as collectibles or memorabilia — along with serial numbers and invoices to have as a permanent record. Store those photos in a cloud labeled “office equipment,” and then, when you see your adjuster at the time of loss, there is no question as to contents and what you have lost.
4. Don’t Underestimate the Power of Backing Up
The fourth thing you need to consider: Your computers are the most vital portion of every business. If you are not backing up every day, start doing so. If you are backing up on a flash drive, make sure that flash drive does not stay inside the building at night. It will not do you any good if a fire happens in the middle of the night and the backup for all of your company’s information was burned up as well.
5. How Will You Handle Your Staff?
The fifth item you need to consider is having a plan with your employees. If a fire breaks out, if a monsoon hits, if they need to get out of the building in a hurry, how are they going to do it? Also make sure that you designate a meeting spot for your office.
6. Will You Need an Alternate Location?
The sixth item you want to make sure to have in your plan is where you will be running the business as an alternate if needed. Would you be able to convert a room in your home? Would you be able to reach out to someone who has extra space? You want to make sure you know ahead of time where you are going to plug in and go while your office is being put back into action.
7. Communication Is Key
You also want to make sure you have a communication-with-staff plan put into place. Make sure you have a virtual meeting space ready to go if needed so employees can have a meeting together after the fact. This will not only keep your employees in the loop but also keep peace of mind moving forward. Remember, your employees are your team, and they need to know what is going on in order to function appropriately. Remember, your employees are your team and there is no better way to see what a team is made of than when faced with unfortunate circumstances.
Lastly, if you find yourself in the middle of water damage, smoke damage or fire, always call a reputable restoration company that can come out immediately and help you put your business back together. A restoration company is well versed in insurance and what is covered and what is not covered. It can assist in property documentation at the scene. It can assist in trying to save equipment and furniture and, most of all, it is there to assist you in getting back to pre-loss condition as quickly as possible, because, as I said, time is money.
Tracy Michelle Klein is the Agency Consultant for Arizona Fire & Water Restoration, Inc.
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