As I write this the remnants of Hurricane Arthur are moving away from shore and the damage has been done. Once again it is hurricane, tornado, wildfire and disaster season, which means it is time for my annual Guide to Business Disaster Planning.
Disasters happen in all forms, often without warning, at any time. So prepare your company and yourself.
Here’s a disaster-readiness checklist I suggest you look over carefully. If you think you’re on top of it, compare your list to this one to ensure you have all the bases covered.
- Have a business survival disaster plan in place. Get your department heads involved as stakeholders. Let your employees know what to do in the event of any emergency.
- Publish a list of all emergency contact numbers for your key personnel and vendors. Include home and cell phone numbers, as well as home email addresses as alternative ways of contact if main communication channels go down (think Skype, FaceTime, etc)
- Twitter and Facebook can be effective tools for communicating with your employees, vendors and customers during times of crisis.
- Designate someone in your company as chief disaster planning officer.
- Back up your computers and computer systems regularly. Then back up your backups. Most importantly, keep them off-site. I have five backup drives and all my files backed up on DVDs. There are two kinds of computer users: those who have lost data, and those who will lose it. I fall into the first category: Last year one of my backup drives failed with more than 750 gigabytes of data on it. Luckily, while I lost three-quarters of a terabyte of data, I had almost all of it backed up on DVDs. I’m one of the fortunate ones who lost a little, not a lot.
- Work with your call center so it can operate if a disaster strikes. If you use an external call center, inquire about its disaster plan.
- If your call center is on-site, consider hiring a backup call-center staff to field calls in case of emergency (this saved one my clients’ bacon a few years ago).
- If you host your own website, have a plan in place in case you lose all power. Find out what your ISP does if it loses all electricity.
- If your business is in a disaster-prone area, buy a generator.
- If your business isn’t in a disaster-prone area, contact any vendors that are. Disasters, either natural or man-made, can interrupt your workflow with printers, the Postal Service or any other vendors.
- Don’t market into disaster-impacted areas because they won’t respond. If you’ve already marketed in a disaster-impacted area, adjust your projections downward.
Bottom line for all this, remember my motto (or is it the Boy Scout motto?): ALWAYS BE PREPARED!
Do you have a disaster plan? Feel free to add to this list by posting a comment below.
About the Author
Jim Gilbert is president of Gilbert Direct Marketing Inc., a full-service catalog, direct marketing and social media agency. His LinkedIn profile can be viewed atwww.linkedin.com/in/jimwgilbert. You can email him firstname.lastname@example.org, follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/gilbertdirect
Please note: This article originally ran for Retail Online Integration Magazine where I have a regular column.