Businesses advised: ‘Have a hurricane plan’
With hurricane season under way, North Fort Myers businesses were advised to make sure they had a storm plan ready.
Bryan Avery, of Allstate Insurance, told business owners and managers attending the monthly North Fort Myers Chamber of Commerce Business Leaders Luncheon in the Dolphin Room at the Shell Factory last week to treat their business as they would treat their home.
When Hurricane Charley hit in 2004, it was the first time businesses had to deal with such a severe situation, and many weren’t prepared for it, he said.
“A lot of businesses locations were not available to operated out of, to be able to help people. When this happens, you’re going to lose the normal bases where you do business,” Avery said. “When you lose electricity and the Internet, that adds to the chaos.”
After Charley, many businesses were left without much for up to two weeks. Avery said businesses need a business perception plan, which gives them a template on how to get through the tough times.
“The idea is to have you back up and operational and prepared for what will take place,” Avery said.
Among the things businesses can do is have a list of phone numbers in writing so owners can contact employees and clients. This list should be at work, home and in a safe location, such as a lock box.
Avery added businesses should have an inventory of any valuable property, such as computers and furniture. If the business location is damaged, there is a possibility of looting and the theft of personal information. Backing up data is also important.
“Everything changes when all the basics for your business are exposed. So, you need an inventory list,” Avery said. “You’re always going to forget something if it’s not written down,” Avery said. “You should have serial numbers, back-up data so you have the information you need.
Ultimately, you still have to work, which is why you need to treat your business in a lot of ways the same way you would treat your home. Make sure you have ample supplies and cash on hand, Avery said. About a week to 10 days should suffice.
“If the electronic transfers of money are down, you should have cash on hand to pay your employees. Your business should be no different than your home,” Avery said. “You should have money to cover payroll, expenses or other needs.”
Avery also said there needs to be a secondary location to do business, which could be important if one location has power restored before your business location.
He also said owners must read their insurance policies carefully to know what is covered and what isn’t. Many times owners believe they’re covered for something until they learn too late they aren’t, or have a huge deductible.
“We’re not going to stop Mother Nature. But we can be better prepared than we are now,” Avery said. “You don’t have to have a 40-page document, but you should have a basic premise that you can put into play.”