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Natural disasters, like fire, tornadoes, hurricanes and catastrophic flooding, have the potential to disrupt businesses a hundredfold. A business located along the US coast may be at increased risk for hurricanes, and midwestern locales leave businesses prone to tornadoes. Businesses in close proximity to river streams can be overwhelmed if the river waters overflow. Rain falls on every part of the globe, leaving flooding due to thunderstorms a veritable likelihood. Any establishment is at risk for a natural disaster.
No matter in what region a business is located, it becomes crucial for business owners to prepare a business continuity plan. A well-developed business continuity plan addresses several key factors: business processes, assets, business partners and several additional elements to maintain and resume operations quickly in the face of a natural disaster.
Recognize a Plan’s Advantages
The advantages of creating a business continuity plan are numerous. Included in the long list of benefits are minimizing extensive interruptions and the severity of the impact due to natural disasters, hindering financial losses, and hastening restoration.
Businesses with a business continuity plan are more likely to jump back on their feet rather than permanently close their doors, as 40 to 60 percent of businesses do following a natural disaster.
Identify Business Impact
Business owners will first want to conduct a business impact analysis. Businesses should identify the financial impact a disaster will take on their operations. Evaluate any potential losses if the business undergoes a natural disaster. Consider the steps you will take if the business is out of operation for a day, a week or even a month.
Develop the Plan
Experts recommend outlining six key steps when developing a business continuity plan:
- Develop the scope of the plan and identify threats (fire, flooding, earthquakes)
- Note critical business areas and personnel; develop a team who will enforce the plan when disaster strikes.
- Identify important business functions.
- Outline how various business functions rely on certain areas of the business.
- Evaluate the permissible downtime for each function.
- Develop a strategy to resume and maintain operations.
Business owners should know where their business continuity plan is kept and what personnel has access to it.
Create a checklist that details all business supplies and equipment and the location of backup sites and data backups. Keep your business information secure by regularly uploading them to a cloud-based platform and an external hard drive. Financial records, business emails and employee information should be stored safely, allowing business owners full and immediate access if a natural disaster destroys the physical components of the business.
Contact information for emergency responders, the business’ insurance company, local disaster restoration services, financial institutions and key employees should be kept on hand. Contact information for backup service providers should also be safeguarded
Offsite locations where staff can continue working is ideal. As a part of the business continuity plan, pinpoint safe locations that employees can travel to if the need to work offsite arises. Multiple routes may be a necessity, especially if one is blocked by the disaster.
An emergency kit is imperative for every business. The kit should include food, water, flashlights, batteries, first aid kit, tools and a battery powered radio or device to allow communication. A copy of the business continuity plan should also be included with the emergency kit.
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Test the Plan
One of the most important activities business owners can take after creating the business continuity plan is to test it. Experts note that several businesses perform test runs of their business continuity plan two to four times per year. Walk throughs that respond to specific disasters, tabletop exercises conducted in a conference room, and simulations are several ways businesses can practice the plan. A complete emergency evacuation drill should also be performed annually. During the tests, personnel should be on the lookout for weaknesses and gaps in the business continuity plan.
Update the Plan
As important as testing the business continuity plan is keeping it updated. Technology changes and personnel changes can turn an original business continuity plan into an ineffective one. Gather employees and discuss the business continuity plan at least once a year. Solicit feedback from all departments. If a natural disaster has struck before, add the lessons learned into the most current business continuity plan.
Offer Plan Training
While business owners should be aware of every detail in the business continuity plan, it is also important that employees have the necessary details to implement the plan. Experts recommend distributing the plan to staff and offering training throughout the year. As a result of plan training, employees will recognize the plan as one that requires urgency and has substantial credibility.
Having a solid business continuity plan in place will help make recovering from a natural disaster attainable. Business owners should, as mentioned, keep on hand the contact information of a reputable disaster restoration service that will help return the property to its pre-damaged condition. Professional restoration services are critical when it comes to cleaning up damaged areas, boarding up and tarping property and clearing away the natural debris that has resulted from the disaster.
ServiceMaster Restoration & Cleaning
ServiceMaster Restoration & Cleaning is a storm damage restoration company with experience in salvaging commercial properties that have suffered losses in the wake of a natural disaster. Our professionals are experienced with repairing damages due to the natural elements, like flooding and strong winds that batter the property’s siding, roofing or windows.
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The highly skilled technicians at ServiceMaster Restoration & Cleaning offer flood damage cleanup. Advanced water extraction equipment is utilized to thoroughly dry a saturated property. Board up and tarping services are offered to secure a property that has been ravaged by storms. Openings are secured to prevent pests, water and wind and even criminal intruders from entering. Structural repairs are performed by the specialists at ServiceMaster Restoration & Cleaning, as well.
ServiceMaster Restoration & Cleaning reliably serves the Houston, TX community of businesses and residential properties. The team stands by 24 hours a day to respond to emergency calls.