Featuring Bob Boyd, President and CEO of Agility Recovery Solutions.
A natural disaster can happen anywhere, anytime. However, it doesn’t have to catch you unprepared. Learn what it will take to survive and rebuild your business after a disaster.
This podcast is part two of a two part series (Part 1 is available here). From the right insurance to building an emergency kit this podcast walks you through the steps to complete your disaster preparedness plan.
Ron Johnson: A natural disaster can happen anywhere, anytime. However, this doesn’t have to catch you unprepared. Recent storms like Hurricane Irene swept the Eastern seaboard causing billions in damages and, sadly, loss of life. The very nature of disasters require planning for the unthinkable. Do you have a plan? What will it take to survive and rebuild your business after a disaster?
Hello, I’m Ron Johnson with the US Small Business Administration, your small business resource. Joining us once again is Bob Boyd. He is president and CEO of Agility Recovery Solutions. Today, we conclude our two-part series on how to develop your business disaster preparedness plan. Welcome back, Bob.
Bob Boyd: Thanks, Ron. Let’s pick up where we left off. We’ll start this podcast with number six on our list of 10 basic steps for creating a business preparedness plan.
So number six was review insurance coverage. At least once a year, we really recommend that you sit down with your insurance agent and talk to them about your business. Make sure that you understand the risks that you have and you’ve got insurance coverage that mitigates those risks.
One of the things that you should be aware of is most policies don’t include things like flood insurance or earthquake insurance, unless you specifically request those. As we’ve seen, there had been an awful lot of disasters this year that had been caused by floods. In fact, the majority of the SBA disaster loans for physical damages are made for flood losses. A major portion of property damages following a hurricane comes from flooding. The National Flood Insurance Program provides coverage, and you can visit floodsmart.gov for more information on that.
Next, you should really talk to your insurance agent about things like business interruption insurance and extra expense coverage. Those things will help make sure that you’re compensated if you lose income or you need to spend dollars to recover your business in a disaster. It can be very vital for recovering from an event.
Seventh on our list is to plan for alternative location. We really recommend that businesses do some research ahead of time, ahead of a potential event, and plan for alternative locations where they could relocate to. There’s a variety of options that you can think about. You could have an agreement with a neighboring business. You could have a relationship with somebody in your industry. You may have a sister or secondary facilities that you could occupy. Create a relationship with a real estate agent or a landlord that you might be able to utilize some of their vacant space. Enter into an agreement with a firm to help you provide a mobile recovery or a hot site recovery. There are lots of options. But thinking about that ahead of the event will ensure that you have quick access to that space.
Number eight on our list was to assemble an emergency kit. Emergency kits are really important and that kit for your business should include all of the important records, policies, inventory of your fixed assets, contracts, list of phone numbers, email addresses for your employees and your customers, vendors, local first responders, emergency managers, all those kinds of things. Have things like letterhead. If you have stamps and seals, your software license keys, you want to have those things in a kit.
And then the things that you should have in your business kit, you should also have at home. Things like cash, a flashlight, a battery-operated, a crank-operated weather radio, first aid kit, nonperishable food, water. Those kinds of things will really help you because in many cases, you need to be prepared to shelter in place and be on your own for up to 72 hours.
Number nine and really important is going to be kind of the all-encompassing document that you’re going to create after you make all these decisions. Your plan is to create this emergency management plan. This emergency management plan, it’s going to help you minimize the impact and protect both you and your stakeholders if your operation has any kind of interruption. It’s going to make sure that you have a plan and a process to transition from normal operations through a catastrophic interruption back to normal operation. It’s going to give you a leadership team, kind of have a plan. It’s going to help you know what needs to happen, who you’re going to call on, how you’re going to communicate, what functions are going to come back up first. It’s going to really give you that structure that you’re going to want to rely upon in that disaster.
And then last on our list of recommendations is to exercise your plan. Go through and conduct a test of the assumptions that you’ve made in your recovery strategies. My hope is that every time you conduct the test, you’ll find things that fail. You actually want to push your plan at that point because you want to find out the assumptions that you made that weren’t valid, and then you can go through the process of improving your plan and making it better so that when you actually have an interruption, you’ve dealt with all those things. Your plan is never going to be finished. It’s always going to improve, so you constantly want to go through a process at least once a year of testing that plan and pushing through that and making sure that that plan continues to improve as your organization changes.
In closing, I want to remind our audience that September is and has been National Preparedness Month. In an effort to lead business owners towards taking steps towards to protect your investments, the SBA and Agility have hosted webinars every Wednesday this month around a variety of topics concerning preparedness planning both at the community level, on individual level, and organizational level. You can go to preparemybusiness.org or agilityrecovery.com/npm and either register or download any of the archived webinars we’ve conducted.
Ron Johnson: Again, our thanks to Bob Boyd, president and CEO of Agility Recovery Solutions. We now have the 10 steps in developing a business disaster preparedness plan. Be sure to listen to part one of our two-part series. Remember, the long-term benefits of being prepared are immeasurable. Having a business continuity plan that is tested before the disaster strikes will only improve your chances of staying in the game. For more information on Agility’s Prepare My Business, go to www.preparemybusiness.org.
To learn more about what SBA has to offer in disaster assistance, go to www.sba.gov/disaster. Continue to listen for more disaster preparedness podcasts in the near future.
So, until next time, this is Ron Johnson with the U.S. Small Business Administration, your small business resource.
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