What should you be doing right now to prepare?
- First, you need to meet with your commercial insurance agent to ensure that your coverage is up-to-date and you understand if you are covered for wind, flood and fire damage and what your coverage for these damages are.
- Second, don’t keep a large inventory of food. Food spoilage not only results in the loss of product, but potentially the loss of coolers and refrigerators. Ask your suppliers and distributors what their emergency plan entails.
- Identify your emergency preparedness team. These are key staff members who are willing to stay behind and secure the premises and be the first back in to re-open.
- Have a shut-down plan. This outlines who does what in securing the location and handling technological matters such as: backing up your POS, batching out your credit card transactions, capturing your payroll information and securing your technology equipment. Thumb drives and laptops are recommended for these members during evacuation.
- Keep staff contact information. It is helpful to have an idea of where your staff is going to evacuate, have their cell numbers and also the phone numbers of any family members they may be staying with.
- Consider utilizing your Facebook business page or Twitter account for your staff to communicate during an event. Cell phones may not be reliable, given tower outages or overloads.
If evacuation is necessary:
- Change your outgoing message on the phone or reservation line and cancel your reservations/parties.
- Empty the ice machines and coolers.
- Flip the breakers to the off position to reduce chance of fire.
- Grab your important documentation—insurance policies, payroll, etc.
These are just the highlights of what you can do to prepare and reduce your losses during a weather event. There are so many aspects of emergency preparedness and it varies depending on your operation, number of locations and proximity to the Gulf of Mexico. Four things we all can do are consider, think, discuss and act. It may not be fun, but it is completely necessary.