Things to Consider When Making an Emergency Plan for Your Business
There are two questions you need to consider:
- What is our threat assessment?
- What are the most likely things to affect me and my business?
You can probably come up with 50+ things, but spend your time, efforts & money on your top 3 – 4 absolute most likely or devastating events. For example: hurricanes, flooding, tornadoes, fire, or even a cybersecurity breach.
Look at the items you already have and then make a list of all the things you will need. Buy the items that fill in that gap so you have what you need when it comes time to recover.
COOP (Continuity of Operations Plan)
You need to consider how you will continue to operate your business with 50% less staff, or possibly without key players.
For instance, is remote work an option?
Consider signing a contract with a security company to have on-site security for when you reopen.
Include a succession of leadership to show who's in charge in case the owner or key players cannot return to work.
Transportation & Logistics
You may need alternate means to transport or procure commodities and goods. Consider hiring security to escort goods to or from your business.
Keep multiple copies of your data. Imagine a file cabinet being destroyed, or a computer with all of your files being damaged. Your data needs to be backed up and accessed in many different ways. Cloud services are great, plus they can be accessed from anywhere.
Sharing Company Information
It's important for everyone in your company to have easy access to company updates in case of an emergency, and to know exactly where to go to get this information. This gives you a way to let people know when you plan on reopening, immediate changes to the situation moment-to-moment, and more.
For example, set up a private, company-only Facebook group. It's a fast way to get information out to people on a platform most people already have access to. It also gives them a place to post their own updates for the company at a time where people could be spread out across the region.
However, if there's no internet access, what's plan B?
You could also plan out an emergency phone tree. This is a somewhat older concept, but it still works great in certain situations. Every person on your team has an assigned person(s) to call to check in or give urgent information.
Based on your business' threat assessment, do you have enough insurance coverage? Is it up-to-date?
Look into getting business interruption insurance. This is insurance coverage that replaces business income lost in a disaster. It can typically be added on to your current insurance policy.
Go to ready.gov/business
for checklists to start from & other resources. We also have numerous checklists on our website for your use in an emergency.
Have a Yearly Review
This isn't a plan that you make and just leave until you need it. This plan needs to be addressed every year to make sure it still serves your company and your employees well. You can use June 1 as the one day every year to review your emergency plans and insurance policies.
At this time, also make sure you have every employee's current phone number & other personal contact information, emergency contact information, etc.
Send out a memo yearly to all of your employees to let them know where they can go to get your business' emergency information.
During & After the Disaster
While emergency plans are incredibly important, do not let your employees take a back seat in these situations. Take care of them through thick and thin. Ask them, "Is there anything that you need right now?" Maybe send grocery money, rent hotel rooms, or reimburse them for these disaster expenses. If you don't have the monetary means, even just staying in touch consistently will go a long way. Those employees will be loyal forever. If you don't make them feel like you care and are there for them, they may never come back.
Don't make these plans in a bubble. It takes a team. Plan a one-hour meeting once every quarter for an emergency committee to get together and discuss these plans.
In the case of a regional or statewide emergency, the federal government will get involved (FEMA, SBA, etc.) which opens up many more avenues for recovery for small businesses.
As always, get your information from reputable sources, such as the Tangipahoa Parish Government website & Facebook page or the National Weather Service.
Where Does the Office of Emergency Management (OEM) Fit in With All of This?
The OEM has their own parish-wide emergency plans in place, and keeps them up-to-date. We will even review emergency plans of your businesses. The OEM is also in charge of running the Emergency Operations Center (EOC).
The EOC gives businesses one central place to call in the event of an emergency, offering goods and services to get the community back up and running. They also offer public education on all of this information and more on their web page