Is your business or organization prepared for an emergency?
According to The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), about 25 percent of businesses do not reopen after disasters.
Having an emergency disaster plan and a continuity of operations plan in place can reduce that risk and help the business recover faster.
It is important to have a plan in place to protect your employees and safeguard your assets to minimize the disruption to the business,
but it can be difficult to know where to begin – and where to go from there. The City of Hollywood Office of Economic Development is here to help you prepare.
BEFORE AN EMERGENCY
Before you are ever faced with an emergency develop a plan for keeping your employees safe, your equipment secure and your business on track.
Build an emergency kit
During an emergency, essential business documents can be easily damaged, lost or destroyed. By backing up all of your essential financial and business
documents on the cloud or an external hard drive located in a separate location from your business, you’ll ensure easy access to the files needed for loan applications following a disaster.
It’s important to know how you will cover costs if a disaster hits. For many business owners, this means opening a line of credit that is reserved for post-emergency purchases.
Having the right insurance is an important way to ensure you have coverage for your business in the event of a natural disaster.
Vendor and customer lists
Keep an up-to-date list of all of your employees, vendors and customers prior to a disaster so you can contact them after a disaster occurs.
DURING AN EMERGENCY
Activate the emergency response plan that you’ve already created prior to any disaster so you can secure your assets and protect your staff.
Safety is the main concern. Businesses are encouraged to review their Business Continuity Plan to ensure the information is up to date and employees
are all aware of the plan and their responsibilities. It is important to monitor relevant emergency management news for weather and safety updates.
In case an evacuation is ordered, businesses owners should secure their businesses and follow instructions by local emergency management on evacuation orders.
Remember, if your local emergency management officials order an evacuation and you make a decision to remain in your business, emergency responders
will not be able to respond to you during the disaster. You, and your employees, will be on your own until the storm passes and first responders are able to
secure the area.
AFTER AN EMERGENCY
Your first concern after a disaster should be you and your team’s safety, followed by addressing any damage to your business.
Following the disaster, it will be important to communicate with employees, vendors and customers at the right time and with the right message.
Employee safety and communication
Make sure all of your employees are safe and accounted for and that their personal needs are being met.
For example, do they still have a home to go to and transportation to get there?
Evaluate the physical damage
Once it’s safe to survey the damage done to your business, document all damage with photographs and/or video for insurance claims.
Make a list of all of the damaged items using the inventory list you created prior to the disaster and keep receipts for any repairs you make so you can include these
details in insurance claims.
Assess your financial situation
Despite being in a challenging and stressful circumstance, you will need to assess your financial situation following a disaster.
If you need further funds to pay your employees during a temporary business shutdown, consider applying for bridge loans,
which are usually short-term loans that give a quick infusion of cash, emergency funds set up for recovery from the disaster, or perhaps there are
some grants that can help you.
Clean up and rebuild
In the aftermath, you can reach out to the vendors you identified in your emergency response plan who can provide the supplies you need
to get back in business (i.e., sheetrock after a flood). You can also look for other local merchants who may have the supplies you need for your operations.
Let customers know you’re open for business
An important step to take after rebuilding is to let customers know you are open again. They might expect business as usual, regardless of your business’s stage
of recovery after the disaster. If you can’t provide a certain level of service, it may be wise to alert customers to the change or consider waiting to reopen, as
a change in service could lead customers to take their business elsewhere. As soon as you reopen your doors, consider using temporary signage to promote
the fact that you’re open again and update your website and social media channels to let your customer base know that you are back in business.
For business preparedness checklists from the U.S. Small Business Administration, visit https://proxy.www.sba.gov/document/support-preparedness-checklists.
For safety tips from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s ready.gov website, visit https://www.ready.gov/be-informed.