As an insurance agent we think about disaster planning a lot more than most small business owners, after all it’s our job. However, with the increase in natural disasters and other unexpected disasters it’s excellent time for all business owners to create, review or update their small business disaster plan.
What Should a Small Business Disaster Plan Include?
If you are creating a small business disaster plan for the first time, the easiest way to know what to consider is by asking yourself a few simple questions and developing a plan around your answer. Some things to ask yourself:
- Do you have a source for backup electricity? It’s a good idea to purchase a generator to use as a backup source for electricity. In today’s world we are dependent on electricity. No computers, cell phones, in some instances heat, refrigeration etc. without electricity.
- Do you have access to more than one internet provider? During super storm Sandy many Internet providers servers went down and their customer’s found they did not have access to their websites or cloud stored documents and information. Survey your employees, find out who they use as an Internet service provider. You may need to access the Internet via a different service provider. It is also a good idea to purchase a portable WIFI hot spot that you can access the Internet using cell towers. Most these devices will let you hook up to 6 different devices and you will have Internet access as long as the battery works. Back up batteries are a good idea if your electricity may be out for an extended period of time.
- Do you have your business computers backed up off site? You should have your customer data bases, inventory lists, accounting information all back up off site. It’s easier to do that today than any other time. If your server or computer is damaged, you will want to be able to access your key business information for insurance purposes and to continue on with your business.
- Do you have another way of accepting credit cards or cash payments to help customers make purchases from your store or business. If you are a small retail store that carries emergency products like flashlights, batteries etc. you can help your customers to continue to do business with you during an event like Sandy, if they can use their charge cards. But remember traditional credit card machines do not work without electricity, but the square will work with your cell phone. It’s not a bad idea to have a few of these handy little devices around to make it easier for your customers to continue to do business with you.
- Do you have access to a phone land line? A lot of people have done away with there old land line to save money. But when the cell towers are down and there is no electricity the old fashion land line still works. If it’s important that your customers be able to reach you, you may want to make sure you have access to a land line.
- Do you have cash on hand? to make non-credit card emergency purchases. Again with no electricity you may have no other way to make purchases.
- Do you have an emergency supply of gas and or propane. Gasoline became something people needed in the aftermath of Sandy. Emergency generators run on on gas. Supplemental heating and cooking units can run on gas or propane. You want to make sure your tanks are full and you have additional gas and propane in storage.
- Do you have a secondary heat and lighting source. The new LED lights use very little electricity but they put out a lot of light. Having camp lanterns that use LED’s, propane, or white gas can give you needed light. Gas or propane heaters can also provide warmth. Propane or gas camp stoves can provide you with hot meals.
- Do you have a secondary refrigeration source: Once again no electricity. Small propane refrigerators work well. Also you can purchase and have on hand a good cooler and some dry ice. You will be able to keep food frozen in a good cooler with dry ice up to 5 to 7 days. Hopefully by that time your electricity will be back on.
- Do you have an easy and effective way to get information you’re to customers and staff? It’s worth your time to talk about how you will get information out to your staff and customers. Make sure you have your staff’s cell numbers and email addresses. My business associate told me email and updating his website became a primary way to communicate to customers and staff.
- How will you protect valuable merchandise? In the case of Sandy there was plenty of warning to move merchandise from basement storage units. However thousands of businesses did not do this and lost everything due to flooding. If you have warning take the precautions to move valuable merchandise to another location safe away from the area at risk.
- Review your insurance protection. Make sure you have business interruption and additional expense coverage. You may find your business is forced to shut down because of a super storm like Sandy. Business interruption coverage will reimburse you for some of your lost revenue during that time. Extra expense can help with the additional expenses of getting your business back up and running. Also make sure you’re building and business property amounts are regularly updated to reflect the current replacement costs.
This is just a snapshot of the few things you might want to think about adding to your small business disaster plan. I know many of us never plan or even think about a disaster hitting our area, but we are all vulnerable to unpredictable weather patterns. In fact, over the last couple of years unpredictable weather has become the norm. A little upfront planning can go a long way in saving any business owner thousands of dollars and getting back into business much sooner.
Bancorp’s insurance agents are available to provide you with a free review and consultation. Contact Us – Bancorp Insurance Call 800-452-6826
Disclaimer: This content is provided for general information purposes and is not intended to be used in place of consultation with our agents.