As our area prepares for the approach of Hurricane Dorian, many small business owners are working hard to prepare their homes and businesses for its impact. While the damage is not suspected to be as severe as we saw last year with Florence, it is still important to take precautions. Here are a few important steps to prepare your business for a hurricane.
Your people are your most valuable asset. Your top priority should be protecting them. Work with your team to set up a communication plan for your employees. Decide what roles are critical and who needs to be available during the storm. If certain work-related responsibilities and employees are not needed during the storm, let those employees know they do not need to worry about work over the next few days.
You will also want to set up a communication plan for your clients. If you have a storefront, decide how you will let your clients know when you will close and reopen. For scheduled appointments, phone calls will be best, but email and social media posts are also good additional options.
If your business requires you to stay up and running throughout the storm, it’s recommended that the necessary personnel evacuate to a location that will not be impacted by the storm. Be sure to take any files and technology you will need to keep the business up and running. It may also be beneficial to alert your clients that your team is working from a remote location during the storm, so they are aware delays may happen.
If you are leasing your business space, take a moment to review what the landlord is responsible for covering and what you will be responsible for if there is damage from the storm. Knowing ahead of time who is responsible for what will hopefully prevent delays when it’s time to repair.
Once you know what you are responsible for covering, review your insurance policy to know what the insurance company will cover. Have the insurance company’s contact information readily available in case you need to make a claim after the storm.
Now is a good time to back-up important data on your computers and servers. You can back-up data to the cloud or to an external hard drive, which you will want to keep in a secure location.
Depending on your location, the potential for flooding, and wind speeds, you may want to relocate any electronic equipment or inventory to a safer location. Make sure you have an accurate inventory count in case there is damage and you need to make an insurance claim.
Depending on the hurricane’s strength and your location, it may be necessary to board the windows and/or put out sandbags. If you have outdoor furniture or removable signs, bring them inside.
Hurricanes can speed up, slow down, and change directions in a moments notice. It’s always better to be “over-prepared” then caught by surprise. Set up weather alerts on your phone, so you can stay up-to-date with the forecasts and make the best decisions possible.
As the business owner, your employees are looking to you for guidance and direction during the storm. Stay calm and communicate as early and clearly as possible to ensure operations run as smoothly as possible.