Business owners across the US are cleaning up their business after a number of recent weather-related disasters, including hurricanes, flooding, and wildfires. Natural disasters are terrifying, and can hurt your business’ long-term chances of success. According to the Labor Department, 40% - 60% of small businesses never reopen after a natural disaster.
When you’re running a service business, you’ve got three big things to worry about: Your employees, your customers, and your management system. As long as those three components are safe, so is the core of your business.
The key to beating those odds is preparing your business and making a proactive plan in case of natural disaster. Even if you don’t think you’re in an area that could experience one, some disasters, such as fires and flooding, can happen anywhere.
Here are four tips for disaster-proofing your business:
Protect your data in the cloud
By running your business on a cloud-based management system like Booker, you can rest assured that all of your data is protected in secure data storage facilities. Even if your on-site devices are destroyed, your customer and business data will be safe, and you’ll be able to check-in on your business 24/7 and on-the-go.
Without a cloud-based system, you could lose access to your information entirely if the equipment you use to store your data, such as tablets, appointment logs, or computers, is lost.
2. Make a communication plan
Make sure you have accurate and up-to-date contact information for all employees and customers. This will make it easier for you to communicate updates and direction regarding how events are impacting your business, including opening hours and the status of your location(s). If you rely on a landline phone, forward those calls to a mobile number as a back-up so you won’t miss them if you need to be out of your facility.
Assign a process for your staff to give you updates on their safety and whereabouts. A group text or group Facebook message can serve this purpose so you can keep track of your team and be aware when they may need additional assistance.
Additionally, use your social media pages to give your customers updates on your facility, opening hours, and staff. They’ll want to know how you’re doing and when they can expect to access your services again.
3. Take inventory
If your physical location is impacted, it’s important to have an accurate count of all of your inventory and equipment in the event that it’s destroyed. Take detailed pictures of your space so that you can share them later with your insurance company to recover costs. Back up this information on a secure server online so you can access it later even if your phone or computer is lost.
4. Make a business continuity plan
This plan outlines the steps you’ll take to keep your business running in the case of natural disaster.
Some things to consider:
Is there an alternate location where you can provide services in case your site is flooded or otherwise unusable?
How will you serve people who had appointments that were missed because of the event? Make a plan to reschedule and communicate with them so they know that you’re thinking of their needs once the emergency is over.
Can you continue to take online orders? How will you fulfill them? If not, update your website to reflect this.