We have all watched in horror as floods, tornadoes, hurricanes and other natural disasters have destroyed large portions of the United States, causing billions of dollars in property losses and, more importantly, loss of life. While nobody can ever be truly prepared for such a disaster, it helps to have some strategies in place to enable you and your business to survive.
Business continuity is the activity performed by an organization to ensure that critical business functions will be available to customers, suppliers and others who must have access to those functions; basically, planning for keeping all aspects of a business functioning notwithstanding disruptive events. Disaster recovery is a subset of business continuity and embodies the processes, policies and procedures related to preparing for recovery or continuation of your business, generally related to technology infrastructure. What should you do in the event of a disaster and, what should you NOT do? This article will provide some tips to help prepare yourself in the event a natural disaster strikes.
Having a Disaster Recovery Plan
The first step to business recovery is to have a disaster recovery plan. Even if your business has never experienced a natural or man-made disaster, a program designed to deal with such an occurrence is essential. Remember, natural disasters do not need to be life-altering, such as the tornado that ravaged Joplin, Missouri: a snowstorm that knocks out power for a few days is also a natural disaster that needs to be handled.
Some things to consider in formulating a disaster recovery plan:
→ What happens if the event occurs during the business day? Does your business have an emergency evacuation plan and are your employees and customers aware of the plan?
→ Is there a phone chain to notify employees of the situation and advise them what to do or where to go?
→ If possible, is there a phone chain or other contact device available for the benefit of your customers? How and when will the customers find out that you are still open, or intend to open in the near future?
One of the less-publicized, but no less important, benefits of enrolling with Member Solutions is that we can take care of notifying your members, by telephone and email, of your business status.
Ensuring Business Continuity
Next, it is critically important that you protect your business’ and your members’ financial interests. Customers will not be happy if you are closed but continue to bill them, and you will not be happy if you are closed and unable to pay ongoing expenses.
→ Insuring that your business interests are secured is simple with business interruption insurance.
Business interruption insurance: (i) maintains your business continuity strategy; (ii) keeps your business afloat if a loss forces you to close; (iii) pays for lost income and continuing expenses; and (iv) pays for relocation and advertising to set up shop at a temporary site. This may already be part of your regular business owner’s policy so you should check with your agent.
→ You may also want to look into Umbrella Liability Coverage. This protects the business and you personally in the event of a catastrophic occurrence. Umbrella coverage kicks in after you’ve exhausted the limits of your general liability and/or auto coverage.
→ Insuring that your customers’ financial interests are protected is easily done with a phone call to Member Solutions (888.277.4408) advising that you have been the victim of a disaster and that the business is closed and will remain closed for some period of time. Member Solutions will immediately freeze payments, cease any collection calls, send out a bulk email to your clients notifying them of your business’ situation, and can communicate a specific message to your members as inquiries are received.
As with all other matters affecting your business, the responsibility for providing leadership on this issue lies with you. Though it may not be a concern today, we have all seen that business continuity planning should not be left for a rainy day: that rainy day is when you’ll need the plan.
Define responsibilities of supervisors, managers, and all other employees as they relate to safety to ensure that your members, your employees, you and your business are safe and sound if disaster strikes in the future.
Member Solutions is not an attorney and does not provide legal or tax advice. Further, the information provided in this article is not, nor is it intended to be, legal or tax advice. It is being offered as a general information service to Member Solutions’ clients. The laws in your jurisdiction may differ. You should consult an attorney for specific advice regarding your particular situation. Though not legal advice, the information provided in this free service gives you valuable information to help you save time and money and assist you in taking the next steps to strengthen and grow your business.
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