This post was created for and sponsored by SERVPRO®.
Business owners have plenty to worry about without taking Mother Nature into account. From disengaged, unproductive employees to supply chain and maintenance issues, running a business is more than a full-time job — it’s a lifestyle. But that doesn’t mean your business isn’t vulnerable to acts of God, or large-scale threats that can, in some cases, literally sink your business and livelihood.
This is why it’s incredibly important for business owners — particularly those operating in and around the East Coast and Gulf states — to take hurricane season seriously. Remember a few years back, when huge storms like Sandy and Katrina effectively shut down entire cities? That’s a very real threat, and one that scientists are saying is growing with each passing year thanks to turbulent climate conditions.
Can you afford to lose your business or shut down for weeks (or months) to recover from a major disaster like a hurricane? If a hurricane were to bear down right now, how do you think your business, both the physical and human elements of it, would hold up? If you’ve never given it much thought, now is the time to do so.
Hurricane season typically runs from June through November, and the potential for a hurricane strike in the U.S. encompasses a huge portion of the country — from southern Texas, all the way up to New England. Needless to say, if your business is located along that stretch, you need to have a plan.
While you’ll likely have safety kits, sand bags, and boards for your windows on standby, business owners will need to give a potential hurricane some deeper thought. You’ll need to have your ducks in a row for when the storm hits, so you can act carefully and quickly if need be.
Aside from the very basics, here are five things business owners can’t forget when preparing for hurricane season.
As simple as it sounds, many business owners overlook their insurance needs. While it’s a must for most entrepreneurs and small businesses, you’ll want to make absolutely sure that you’re covered in the event of a hurricane. Insurance companies will use every trick in the book to deny a claim, so have a legal expert or consultant look over your insurance plan to make sure it’s water-tight.
Insurance companies are businesses, after all, and they’re trying to make money. That doesn’t happen through large-scale payouts.
2. Safety plans and evacuation routes
Remember that it’s not just your physical storefront or business location that can be endangered by an encroaching hurricane — you have people you need to be concerned with as well. That includes you, as well as your employees and any customers that may find themselves in or around your business when disaster strikes. Have safety plans in place, and rehearse what to do in the event of an emergency. Plan evacuation routes, and know where to go, and where to meet up if things go south.
3. Critical systems
Certain businesses require their inventory or machinery to be constantly powered. If a hurricane takes out the local power grid, do you have a backup plan? Take stock of what utilities you’ll need, and take measures to ensure you have your critical systems in order. That may mean generators for power or additional fresh water supplies. The last thing you’ll want, after a hurricane, is to come back to a location filled with destroyed or rotten inventory.
4. Business contacts
A hurricane can cause all manner of confusion and chaos. Even if your business isn’t affected by the storm, the other businesses you depend on might. Have phone numbers and emergency contacts for your suppliers and customers, especially those that are the most important to your business. If you sell food, and the trucks can’t get to your store, you’re going to need to know about it. Make a contact list, and keep it handy.
5. Someone to call
Last but not least, if you do find yourself in an ugly situation during hurricane season, you’re going to want to know who you can turn to, or who to call. Of course, that includes your insurance company, customers, and suppliers, but you’ll need to get your business back up and running in a hurry. Any clean up, restoration, etc. should be handled by the pros. Find a reputable company before hand, that you know and trust can handle your situation.