Everyone is in response mode after a disaster; your family or company might have to evacuate, and you'll have to deal with Response and Recovery. Even if there's no physical loss, a loss in sales (economic injury) is likely. Recovery is a time-consuming process, especially if you've lost everything. Additionally, there's a great deal of ambiguity and conflicting information when figuring out how to get your company back into the swing of things after cataclysms occur.
When you develop a disaster recovery plan and train your team, you reduce the likelihood of disasters disrupting your operations. This article is for small business owners interested in what you can do for your business after a natural disaster. Taking the following steps can help you get back to business quicker.
Steps to rebuilding your business after a natural disaster
Your loved one's safety is priority number one, but for business owners, the ability to rebuild after a natural disaster is a close second. According to FEMA, repair costs force 25% of companies to shut down permanently, and of those that survive, a majority struggle for months to reopen. The following steps can help you return to business as efficiently and economically as possible after a disaster.
1. Execute your disaster and communications plan
Communicating with clients, suppliers, stakeholders, and other vital partners can be a critical next step in determining downtime costs and preparing for possible delays. Considering that catastrophic weather may affect communication, it's essential to reach out through various channels, including phone, email, and social media.
Once everyone’s safe, you’ll want to communicate the plan. Assign tasks to those with goals to enable your business to get back up and running. If you haven’t done so, inform employees of where relocation will be and who will contact vendors and clients. Remember that employees are your most valuable and reliable resource when recovering from a disaster.
Once you’ve assessed any damage, it’s time to contact your insurance providers. They’ll send someone to evaluate damages, then reach out with their coverage amount. Be sure to note whether they’ll reimburse you or pay for repairs directly, as this will inform you of the available budget when shopping for vendor quotes and planning repairs.
Business partners and customers
Communicating with customers, clients, and suppliers can be a critical next step in determining downtime costs, preparing for possible delays, and keeping customers happy. Be sure to brief employees on which details to discuss with customers and clients but remember that much of your staff will be eager to reach out to those in the community. Allowing your employees to take the initiative to help can help everyone cope and remain productive.
You should reach out to your customers by changing website banners and creating social media postings; letting them know that a disaster has impacted your business will strengthen their patience, empathy, and support.
You can read our guide on "How to prepare your small business for natural disasters," where we've included elements you need to consider for your business disaster recovery plan.
2. Assess damages
Once contacted, have employees send lists and whichever pictures they can safely take of damaged equipment and property. Having lots of documentation when reaching out to your insurance agent will ensure that insurance assessors are aware of any damage your policy covers.
Make a list of anything that needs to be repaired or recovered, then prioritize that list according to what’s most necessary to continue operations. High-priority list items can include data recovery, production reallocation, and storefront relocation. After finishing the list, begin discussing solutions with your team and distributing work for who will bring different list items back online. Keep in mind that funding will be a step for each repair, and you’ll need to talk with insurance companies and vendors to ensure you’re taking the most affordable and efficient next steps.
3. Covering additional expenses
Once you’ve completed these steps, you’ll likely have a handle on what you’re insurance won’t cover, along with any additional expenses such as:
Opportunity cost due to closing, relocation, or supplier downtime
Lost equipment or stock costs
If things appear bleak at this point, it’s important to remember that you can find routes other than just insurance to fund recovery expenses:
Reach out to banks or any other financial institutions you have credit with to inform them of your situation. While your business is recovering, many of them may postpone loan payments and fees.
If you are a One Park Financial client, be sure to reach out to your National Account Executive so we can work with your funder in determining the best assistance plan to get your company back on its feet!
Contact representatives from government agencies such as FEMA and the Small Business Administration (SBA) to find out what low-interest rate disaster relief funding is available to your business. For example, these organizations offer:
Plan Your Work, Work Your Plan
Mother nature is unpredictable, so having a disaster recovery plan is incredibly important for any organization that is located in places with a high propensity to natural disasters like hurricanes and earthquakes. Our headquarters are in Miami, Florida, and we have already dealt with quite a few restaurants. We hope that if you are reading this article after a disaster, you, your family, and your employees are safe.
Disclaimer: The contents of this post were prepared for informational purposes only. It is not intended to provide and should not be relied on for tax, legal, or accounting advice. Consult with your tax, legal, and accounting advisor before engaging in any transaction.