Last week I received many calls, the day before Hurricane Irma approached Florida.
“I need to ask you something”, “Would you mind coming over to tell me if there’s something we can do?”, “I don’t know what to do” and “We should have bought business interruption insurance! I am loosing money every day” were just some of the phrases I heard over and over.
I felt bad, because I knew there wasn’t much to do at that point, I knew those losses reported up to Friday were just a fraction of the real losses they all would face before, during and after the hurricane. I am sure they will either learn the lesson and prepare somehow, or completely forget until the next event. I pray they learn and prepare.
But it’s September, and I have permission to talk about preparedness. I also have the blessing of Brock Long (FEMA’s Administrator) to continue promoting preparedness and create awareness. So that’s what I am going to do! But I’m doing it my way, we will discuss Business Preparedness.
Last week’s post provided a brief introduction to why am I using the National Preparedness Month to write about business preparedness. It also touched on supplier issues and third-party failures.
If you haven’t read it, you can find it here.
This is a three in one post; I will discuss technology issues (very common), equipment failures (also common) and power outages (super common). These common, but sometimes seen as “small” events, if not addressed on time, can escalate and result in losses of revenues and customers.
Although every risk for your business and operations must be addressed, technology issues, equipment failures and power outages can stop your business on its tracks, at the worst possible time. We all know it, but sometimes, we rather ignore the fact that technology is not 100% reliable, that equipment breaks down, and that a power outage occurs when you least expect it, or need it.
We need to change the approach of wait and see, to a more proactive approach. We must plan and prepare for these events.
Here are some general tips that can be applied in any business:
- You need backups. As discussed in last week’s post, you need an alternate payment processing software, a backup reservation system, a backup waffle maker if that’s critical for your business. This doesn’t mean you will have to invest thousands of dollars on having a piece of equipment or software just in case you need it. It means having a contingency plan, have arrangements made for tech support, repairs and replacements. Again, these agreements are made in advance.
2. Identify your critical equipment, the one you cannot operate without. This equipment is the piece of equipment that makes a difference between your business operating or completely halting. For that equipment, you need a fast action response plan. If you cannot have in on site, you must have arrangements for quick delivery. Your arrangements must include same day delivery, not days later, not weeks later. If you must finance the equipment, make sure you are pre-qualified for quick purchase and delivery.
3. Backup generators and alternate sources of energy. If your business depends somehow on the use of energy to operate, you need a generator or source of energy. You cannot afford not to have a generator. Include it in your budget and include it on your business expenses. There is no way around it. If you cannot purchase it, plan and lease one. There are many companies that offer the lease-purchase option. Also, make sure you include maintenance and repairs on your plans. If you lease it, you don’t have to worry about repairs and maintenance, and don’t forget to have everything in writing as part of your lease.
These are generic tips that could be applied to any business. It doesn’t matter if you run an agricultural business or a software development company, technology issues, equipment failures and power outages are risks for your business. If you prepare, you will minimize the effects of these events. Worst case scenario, if you are prepared these issues or failures can be addressed quickly to ensure prompt recovery. Plan ahead; you cannot afford not to plan!
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