It was one of those typical gloomy, windy days that is seen so many times in southwestern Missouri. Daytime heat builds up and storms break out in the afternoon. It’s a part of life in the South.
We have all heard the sirens go off before. Often it is a Doppler radar signature that “looks like” a tornado. The TV weather interrupts our programs and just adds to the aggravation. Often times it just gets turned off.
But not long after 5 PM on May 22 in Joplin, Missouri, and in many other places this year like Tuscaloosa, Alabama and as far north as Minnesota, those warnings were the last thing many people heard.
The news reports showed us a landscape which looked like an atomic bomb went off. It sent me imagining what a hornets’ nest of 2x4s, shingles, asphalt, cars, trees and houses would be like at nearly 200 mph. It’s hard to believe that anyone could survive it, and it scares everyone with good sense. It causes me to really think about what is important and what isn’t. Life is precious, and friends and family are irreplaceable. But life and business goes on. Or does it?
What would we do after surviving such a disaster? Our homes are one thing, and the loss of our homes is beyond comprehension for most of us. We have a mechanism in our brains that prevents pain, so it is hard for us to think about it, much less plan for it.
But what if it was your business that got annihilated? What is your Plan B?
I have started asking these questions at Nashville Wraps. While we do live and work in a tornado-prone region, no one anywhere these days is safe. So the topic of Disaster Recovery/Business Continuity is very hot on our agenda and it should be on yours too.
Here a just a few topics that we will be looking at. There are many more.
Will your website survive your business?
If you run your website at your business or home, and the neighbor’s pickup truck lands in your office, that site isn’t going to do you much good. While your community can understand why they get 401 errors when going to your website, your customers in the next state may not be so patient.
By whom (and where) will your phone be answered?
Telephone service can be easily forwarded to alternate offices or even your home, but be sure this other location is far enough away that it will not be in danger too if disaster should strike. Answering services are available, as well as offsite-trained sales and service alternatives, but they are not for everyone.
Do you have an off-site computer backup?
You’ve heard the horror stories. Computers are electro-mechanical devices and will fail. A tornado, fire or flood will certainly ensure they fail all too quickly – but remember, even under normal conditions, they eventually will fail. So make remote backup software available online a priority.
Can you quickly contact your customers and suppliers?
Neighbors help neighbors here in the US, so contact your suppliers and your customers. Let them know what is going on. It’s a good way to build trust and save your future business.
Can you establish your business at a different location?
Keep a watchful eye for opportunities where you may have to move to one day. Contact the real estate agent(s) and let them know that in case of emergency you are interested. Be first on the list. You may be able to partner with other non-competitive businesses that have extra space or extra capacity. Think outside the box, as they say.
Are you adequately insured?
Business interruption insurance is cheap, because while it is horrendous, business interruption is not all that common. But don’t play those odds! For a few bucks a month, you can make sure you would have the cash to replace a good portion of your revenues while you put things back together.
There are many other aspects of the topic of Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery, and as we ask these questions of ourselves we will pass what we discover on to you.