Four ways to counter the costs of disaster
While each disaster is unique, there are common ways that one can avoid many of the pitfalls associated with them:
- Plan for adequate financial reserves. This is not always easy, particularly for small businesses, but it is critical in dealing with disaster. Review insurance coverage annually and understand what is covered and what is not. Know the process and requirements for filing a claim and get emergency contact numbers.
- Prioritize employee welfare. Developed people-focused plans that not only center on managers and key employees but consider families as well. Employees are more apt to remain on the job if they know their families are safe. Keep the lines of communication open with employees during the crisis. Rumors about the business closing or not being able to meet payroll can heighten anxiety and cause employees to seek other jobs.
- Manage customer expectations. Open lines of communications as early as possible and share your plans with them. Customers can accept delays or inconveniences if they know about them and are not taken by surprise.
- Pay attention to what is going on in the community. Disasters don’t create social problems. They take problems that were already there and make them worse. A demographic shift had been going on in Northridge for several years before the earthquake; the disaster accelerated the process.
One of the keys to surviving a disaster is to know its true cost. This cost is not only the physical damage or temporary loss of business. It also includes intangible costs caused by the long-range impacts it has on the affected community. Recognizing these impacts and adapting to them is the only way to ensure solid business resumption.
Lucien Canton, CEM, is a consultant specializing in preparing managers to lead better in crisis by understanding the human factors often overlooked in crisis planning. A popular speaker and lecturer, he is the author of "Emergency Management: Concepts and Strategies for Effective Programs." For more information, visit http://www.luciencanton.com/, or e-mail Info@luciencanton.com.