Business Disaster Recovery Toolbox

Maybe this title caught your eye. What is a business disaster recovery toolbox? Why do I need one? You probably don’t think you need one because as most of us, you think, “it will never happen to me.”

There are so many natural disasters that occur. Pictures on the news of flooding, fires and collapsed buildings bombard us. But there are also other problems that could affect the operation of your businesses: machine breakdown, power outages and water main breaks. Whether these occurrences are covered by insurance or not, you need to have a planned response. Hence, a disaster recovery toolbox.

“A business should have a recovery toolbox. It should contain the right tools to assist with the three phases of a disaster: preparing, responding and recovering,” states the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety. In talking with other business owners, I find there are so many excuses as to why there is no plan. “We thought we could deal with a crisis when it happened,” or “We thought we were too small to need a plan” are just a few of the excuses I have heard. Get your head out of the sand! You need to plan ahead. This is your business and financial future we are talking about.

Preparing a plan is the biggest challenge you will probably face. It starts with knowing your risks. What will disrupt your business operations? Of course, earthquake, tornado, flood or fires are the obvious possibilities. But what about loss/illness of key staff, workplace violence, power outage, loss of utilities like water and gas, software/hardware failure or loss of premise (what if a neighboring business has an issue that causes you to shut down?) You need to identify these risks.

Next, your need to know your operations. This can make a difference between survival and closing down your business. You are a service business. You don’t want to lose your current customers. How can you keep operating? Can you still dry clean? Can you still open your doors and wait on customers? How much down time can you afford? You need to consider the things that will impact your businesses. Who is the employee you need to call to help you? How can you reach him/her? What vendor will you have to contact for support? Again, do you have contact information for them?

Employees should be a key part to your plan. Do you have current home and cell phone numbers as well as emergency contact information? Is this contact information available to you off premise? If you have a disaster and the only information you have is in the business, you will probably not be able to access it. Establish a phone number where the employees can call to obtain current information on the state of your business.

Your suppliers and vendors are key partners in time of disaster. What do you know about their continuity plans? Ask them! You should also have backup suppliers as well. If you have a catastrophe, how quickly can they supply you with what you need? Other key contact information should be kept off site: building manager, insurance agent, utilities and telephone company.

Your computer is your best friend until the disaster occurs. I know some you may not even have a computer but that is for another day and another article. Of course, you have back up off site. If not, start today. Technology is so important to business today, Backups are so important and they need to be kept off site. This is a critical part of your operation. Looking ahead, contact your provider and get a written estimate on the cost and amount of time necessary for replacement in the event of an emergency.

Finances are an important part of your plan. Have a credit line available if you don’t have cash. The banks have relaxed the requirements in the last few years so look into it. It is important to have credit available. You will most likely need it.

These are a few guidelines to use in establishing a plan. For more information, log on www.disastersafety.org/open-for-business. They have a packet you can print out. This will give you all the guidance you need. And the work has all been done for you. Do It Now! Once the disaster occurs, it is too late.