It’s impossible to predict when a natural disaster will strike your business. US companies have recently faced hurricanes, wildfires, and floods in recent months. When a disaster strikes, it can cause your business to close temporarily or permanently. Having an emergency plan in place helps you reopen promptly and minimize losses. The following are steps to restore your business after a natural disaster:
Restoring Your Office Space After an Emergency
Good planning can keep your company from being among the 25% of businesses that don’t reopen after a disaster. The first step in restoring your business occurs before the emergency. That is creating an Emergency Ready Plan. This document includes contact information for key team members and vendors who handle the board up and details like the location of shut-off valves. After the disaster, communicate immediately with team members to implement your response and recovery plan.
Secure the Building
Protect your building and its contents from the elements or trespassers. Board up windows or doors or position tarps over damaged roofs.
Document the Damage
Take a photo or video of the damage. Make a detailed list of the damages and keep receipts for any temporary repairs completed.
File an Insurance Claim
Contact your insurance company immediately after a disaster. They will work with your restoration company to coordinate the restoration process. If you have business interruption coverage, file a claim for that as well. Periodically review your insurance policies to ensure adequate coverage, including for loss of income.
Look into Disaster Assistance
If your business is in a declared disaster area, you may be eligible for a low-interest disaster loan from the Small Business Association (SBA). Use it to repair or replace real estate, equipment, and inventory. Disaster loans also cover improvements to the property or facility that reduce the impact of future disasters.
Safeguard Your Data
Losing original documents can delay your company from getting back to business after a disaster. Bring in specialists in document restoration if water or smoke damages important papers. For example, SERVPRO uses innovative technology like freeze-drying at its document restoration facility. Their specialists work to restore paper documents to their pre-damaged state or as close as possible.
To protect important documents against disaster:
- Make digital copies of contracts and other critical files
- Store documents off-site or in fire and water-resistant cabinets
- Periodically back up electronic documents
Clean Up Your Property
Wear safety gear such as masks and gloves if you do any cleanups yourself. However, it’s best to contract with disaster recovery experts to repair and restore your business. You’ll have enough to do coordinating with employees, and vendors and managing a temporary closure or relocation. Let a team of specialists manage cleanup, restoration, and reconstruction. SERVPRO, a leading cleanup, and restoration company have experienced specialists to manage your insurance claims process.
Before the emergency, set up text message groups of key stakeholders. These include staff from key functions, such as HR, facilities, IT, and vendors.
Even if some physical locations are closed, your customers will still visit your website for information and to shop. Keep your website updated with information for customers and vendors. Provide a way for community members to add a donation to relief efforts to their purchase.
Restoring your Office Space After an Emergency
As a business owner, the steps you take before a disaster strikes will help minimize the damage in a crisis. See the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation Small Business Recovery Expanded Guide for a comprehensive guide to disaster resources for businesses. For free guidance in creating an emergency plan for your company, contact SERVPRO. Their specialists will assess your facility and create a concise document that contains the critical information you need for a swift and efficient disaster response.