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How Your Businesses Can Survive a Storm

Does it seem that powerful and violent storms are becoming more common? Well, they are. There has been an astounding increase in the quantity of life-threatening weather events worldwide over the past 20 years, propelled largely by intensifying global temperatures and additional climatic changes.

The UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR) has published a report showing that from 2000 to 2019, there were 7,348 major natural disasters worldwide, killing 1.23 million people and resulting in $2.97 trillion in global economic losses. In contrast, the previous 20-year period, 1980-1999, had 4,212 natural disasters that claimed 1.19 million lives and caused $1.63 trillion in economic losses.

A recent U.S. government report clarifies the overwhelming effects of climate change. The U.S. Global Change Research Program, a team of 13 federal agencies, was assembled with the help of 300 top scientists. It discovered that if greenhouse emissions are not reduced, the yearly average global temperature could surge to 90°F or more by the end of this century. This will create more frequent fire and flooding.

Additionally, a recent study published in the journal Science showed that the prevalence of significant tornado outbreaks (events lasting 1-3 days, containing numerous thunderstorms and including six or more tornadoes in close succession) have been rising in the U.S., nearly doubling in the previous half century.

“These are all things we should expect to see more and more of as climate change takes a deeper hold on our climate and on the extremities that it creates in our weather,” Jeff Schlegelmilch, director of the National Center for Disaster Preparedness at Columbia University, told weather.com in a recent interview.

How Storm Damage Can Affect Your Business

As seen in the above information, the odds of storm damage affecting your business are ever increasing. And having storm damage take down your company is more than an inconvenience. It’s your livelihood. Disasters also hurt your employees because of loss earnings due to downtime. They may not be able to afford to stick around until your business reopens, especially if it’s closed for days, weeks, or even months. So, as a property manager or owner, you need to not only contemplate what steps to take to clean up and repair the damage, but you’re also concerned with the health and safety of your staff and/or occupants. And time is of the essence.

Storm damage can potentially close a business forever. Here are a few sobering statistics from the Association of Small Business Development Centers:

  • More than one out of four businesses will undergo a significant crisis in any given year.
  • Of those businesses that suffer a disaster but have no emergency plan, 43% NEVER reopen.
  • Of those that do survive, only 29% are still operational two years later.

Considering these statistics, it’s vital to get your company on its feet again ASAP so that you may live to do business another day.

Don’t Go Radio Silent

If you own a business that’s forced to temporarily close due to storm damage, don’t just hang a “Reopening Soon” sign on your door. Rather, immediately and continually inform your clients as to what has occurred by posting up-to-date information on your website and social media accounts, through phone calls, direct emails and/or a customer newsletter. Doing so may soften the blow and motivate your customers to return once you reopen.

If a client is in need of your goods or services immediately, is there a comparable company that you could refer them to? You may be afraid of losing some regulars by doing so, but in reality you’ll be inspiring loyalty while spreading goodwill among customers and competitors. You might even be able to formulate a deal with a trusted competitor that pleases you both, like a finder’s fee or commission on your clients, money that can be earmarked for marketing when you’re able to reopen.

Create a Plan

Get informed ahead of time for what you need to know if a major storm or tornado hits your business. Most areas have a local emergency management office and/or a Red Cross Chapter. These organizations can provide you with information about local emergency response plans, evacuation plans and emergency shelters. It’s also a good idea for your company to invest in a NOAA Weather Radio that will alert you and your employees any time of the day or night for when possible dangerous conditions materialize.

But a recent survey by Office Depot found that that over 60% of small businesses not only don’t have a plan, they argue, “we don’t need it”.  Fooling yourself by pretending storm damage could never happen to your business is a huge mistake. You must prepare by creating a detailed disaster plan that includes:

  • Locations suitable for employee evacuation
  • Emergency contact info for every employee
  • Strategies to protect and access critical business records
  • Possible off-site locations that employees can temporarily work from
  • Your business’s insurance company contact info
  • A pre-emergency plan with a trusted disaster restoration company

Disaster restoration companies like ServiceMaster By Simons will, at no charge, create a prequalified emergency restoration plan for your company. This inclusive document contains vital information about your business, including emergency contact information, shut-off valve locations, the general layout of your building and other areas of import. Keeping this documentation on hand helps business owners and restoration firms to react to unforeseen events quickly and effectively, which helps to minimize business interruption.

There are numerous reasons why a business needs an emergency restoration plan. The benefits of a having one simplifies and accelerates the restoration process by:

  • Receiving a priority response from your commercial restoration company
  • Reducing costs due to quick response time and prior planning
  • Decreasing any downtime you may experience
  • Cleaning and restoring vital documents and property
  • Reducing stress because important decisions are already made
  • Having an experienced and fully-equipped restoration service at the ready 24/7

Your ultimate objective as a business that’s had storm damage is to be able to operate again. The function of a commercial emergency restoration plan is to ensure you’re able to do so with as little time and money lost as possible.

You May Not Need to Shut Down

If the damage to your building is serious enough to need repairs, but not catastrophic, your concern may be: Can I run my business while the damage restoration process is ongoing? You’ll be happy to know that respected restoration companies like ServiceMaster By Simons, while working with countless businesses and property owners over the years, have nearly always found ways to keep those businesses operating as efficiently as possible while the restoration process is ongoing.

This is done when the restoration company keeps a clear channel of communication open with business owners. They work out what the owners’ requirements are and how the restorer can operate around them in ways that are the least intrusive. For instance, a good restoration company can schedule for the dirtiest work to be completed when your personnel and customers aren’t there. They’ll also cordon off the damaged areas so as not to endanger your staff or hinder your business. That way restoration cleanup can move forward while allowing your business to stay open.

So as serious as storm damage can be, it doesn’t have to mean the end of the world. By meticulous planning and partnering with the help you’ll need, there’s no reason why you should have to shut your doors permanently.

About Us: ServiceMaster Restoration By Simons, is a 2020 recipient of the Better Business Bureau’s Torch Award for Marketplace Ethics, and recipient of the 2020 Skokie Business of the Year Award, Honorable Mention Category. ServiceMaster Restoration By Simons (MBE/WBE) is a family operated, IICRC & OSHA Certified company serving Chicago, Oak Park, River Forest, and the North Shore. We provide commercial disaster restoration services including Water & Flood Damage Restoration, Fire & Smoke Damage Restoration, Mold Remediation and a wide range of interior specialty cleaning including COVID-19 Cleaning Services, Hoarder & Clutter Cleaning, Post-Construction Cleaning, Carpet & Upholstery Cleaning to residential and commercial customers. For more information, call 773-839-5542 or visit www.servicemasterbysimons.com or info@servicemaster-rbs.com

 

Nasutsa Mabwa
Nasutsa Mabwa
Nasutsa Mabwa is President of ServiceMaster by Simons, a MBE/WBE City of Chicago and State of Illinois certified firm. She is a 2018 Chicago Business Journal Influential Women in Business Honoree, a member of Crain’s Chicago Business 40 under 40 and a 2018 ServiceMaster(c) Achiever Award recipient. She is a Civic Federation Board Member, an Advisory Board Member for Roosevelt University’s Marshall Bennett Institute of Real Estate, and serves on the Executive Committee for the Evanston Chamber of Commerce. She is IICRC certified for WRT & FSRT.