Want to make a business owner squirm? Ask about the state of his or her disaster-preparedness plan. Even in the best of times, disaster planning can rank low on a priority list. And in today's economy, it's easy to nudge it aside in favor of such issues as paying the rent, drumming up sales, finding reliable employees and other pressing tasks.
While that's certainly understandable, it's unfortunate-and not exactly a sound business practice. According to the Institute for Business and Home Safety, a Tampa, Fla.-based nonprofit organization, up to 25 percent of businesses never recover from a major disaster.
Tornadoes, floods and wildfires make the big headlines and the Be Aware and Prepare tools on www.allstate.com can help you prepare. These emergencies, however, are not the only things you need to worry about. Even something as mundane as an electrical power surge or a malfunctioning building sprinkler system can cripple a company and wipe out years of your hard work and sweat equity.
All of that is the bad news. The good news is that disaster preparedness doesn't have to be a backbreaking task. A little thoughtful planning can go a long way.
For starters, you'll need an emergency response plan, which will dictate the actions you and your employees should take when a disaster occurs. An emergency plan will address such topics as:
Facility evacuation routes and shelter areas
Location and functionality of emergency equipment such as fire alarms and fire extinguishers
First aid procedures
Policies for reporting emergencies
It's also important to identify the potential types of disasters that could affect your business, along with the potential impact of each. Allstate's Be Aware and Prepare guide is a solid starting point, providing specifics on how to prepare for a range of different disaster scenarios. The Federal Emergency Management Agency's (FEMA) Ready.gov website offers a wealth of advice on the topic, including a practical risk assessment worksheet.
Once you have an idea of your potential risks, you can plan for how to address them. Business insurance is a critical part of that. Allstate offers a variety of small business coverage options-everything from general liability to equipment breakdown insurance to policies that offer protection for loss of business income and much more. The Business Insurance section of our website offers full details.
A disaster recovery plan that details how you can restore operations is another critical element. It should factor in everything from employee and customer contact information to potential alternative work sites to how employees can access company data and IT resources and the like. Disaster Recovery Journal, a publication that focuses on business-continuity topics, offers a sample plan on its website. Note, however, that these sorts of sample plans are only starting points. You'll want to customize any template or plan to accommodate your company's unique needs.
Post-disaster communication is another vital issue-you'll need to inform and regularly update customers on your company's status. Check out this concise guide on the topic from FEMA's Ready.gov site.
In sum, there's no way to prevent disaster. But a sound-and regularly updatedâ€“plan can help lessen any damage, get you up and running as quickly as possible, and ultimately boost the odds that your business will remain in business.
Allstate understands how much your business means to you. After all, our agents are business owners-just like you.
Allstate business insurance gives you great protection at a great price. Find your local agent or call us at 1-888-322-3070 to see how we can help you save on business insurance.