F E AT U R E
Disaster! The best time to prepare for the unexpected is well before it happens. By Mary MacDonell Belisle
t is the emptiest feeling I personally have ever felt. You get choked up when you talk about it, and you compare it, unfortunately, to death because it is an equation of that nature.” Ultimate Sports Bar & Grill owner Tom Frericks shared this raw emotion with WJON Radio reporter Lee Voss within days of a devastating fire that totally destroyed the long-time area landmark. Frericks’ words and experience, no doubt, reflect the response of any owner whose small business has been hit by a disaster, be it fire, flood, tornado or other storms. Here are 10 pre-emptive measures business owners can take to avoid a disaster or mitigate the effects of one.
A Assess your risk. The Small Business Administration (SBA) suggests businesses look first to their own uniqueness and vulnerabilities when discussing disaster preparedness. What type of disaster would they be most apt to experience, and which would result in the most damage? Determine what it would take to return to business. The conversation will help to broach the topic and align priorities among the staff. B Develop a plan. Emergency response plans should be developed and circulated to staff well in advance of a disaster, according to Kelly Chance, manager of HR for Insperity, a provider
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of human resources and business solutions to improve business performance. “This plan should include a clear chain of command, necessary emergency functions and responsibilities, specific evacuation procedures, and processes for checking in with employees during an emergency,” Chance said. Erik Soule, owner and manager of Princeton Insurance Agency, highlights the need to update and distribute a written disaster plan annually to staff. A plan should include “temporary” business sites, as needed, employee contact list, procedures for forwarding phone calls, handling mail, etc. He also suggests generator backups so offices can be
online within hours during power outages, should the infrastructure be intact. 3.Purchase adequate insurance. “Insure properly. Let your insurance agent give you suggestions based on your business needs and then budget accordingly, not the other way around,” said Princeton Insurance agent David Haugen. “No one ever wishes they had LESS insurance after an incident.” Crafts Direct in Waite Park sustained a memorable, $1.5 million fire years ago, one that folks still remember. “I could probably be a poster child for insurance,” owner John Schlecht told Gail Ivers for an
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