Prepare for the Unexpected

The Better Business Bureau offers tips for dealing with unpredictable Texas weather and other possible natural disasters.

By: Kelly Trevino

If a natural disaster or the unexpected were to occur, would you be prepared?
Unfortunately, severe financial losses from uninsured property, damaged infrasrtucture or the destruction of vital documents could greatly affect the ability to work or make essential transactions. Better Business Bureau (BBB) serving Central, Coastal and Southwest Texas and the Permian Basin advises businesses to anticipate the worst-case scenario and make sure your business is ready for a natural disaster.

Important documents that should be safely stored in your place of business may include employee records, customer information, vehicle titles, property deeds and copies of insurance policies. BBB recommends storing these documents in a fireproof box or safe, or in a bank’s safe deposit box.

If you do not have a safe, make sure all of your essential documents are stored together in a discreet location, but one you can easily access. Remember, no safe deposit box or safe is completely protected from theft, fire, flood or other damage, but taking these precautions could save your important documents from ruin.

Your BBB recommends using the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) website at ready.gov/business to learn about the potential emergencies that could occur where you live and the appropriate ways to respond to them. When you know what to do, you can plan and prepare in advance to be ready. FEMA provides information about how to protect your household and begin recovery following the initial disaster.

To help you get organized and prepared, your BBB offers the following advice:

Review your insurance policy. It is important to understand your insurance policy, including the fine print. Know what types of natural disasters are covered and what your business must do should one occur. Determine if you need additional coverage by reviewing the monetary limitations associated with each natural disaster.

Update your inventory. When you submit an insurance claim, you need to provide an itemized list of damages. Having an accurate inventory prepared prior to a natural disaster will help you assess the situation and determine what your needs are in order to get your business back to normal operating capacity.

Inform your staff. Post an emergency plan of action in your place of business, or include it with new employee manuals. This will help keep your staff safe in a natural disaster.

Identify critical business systems. Figure out what functions are vital to your organization’s survival should something happen. These include functions that would be most sensitive if you had to shut down temporarily, as well as functions that are necessary to maintain cash flow.

Develop an emergency communication plan. Make sure you have a plan developed to communicate with your customers and vendors in the event of a natural disaster. The plan should include a list of all parties that have regular contact with your business and information on how to account for any outstanding deliveries or customer orders. Make sure the plan explains how to update your Web and social media sites to communicate any pertinent information.

Manage expenses. If your business closes temporarily due to a natural disaster, make sure you have a way to process expenses, such as accounts payable and payroll. Compile a list of all expenses along with account access information in order to continue to be able to operate in a normal capacity.

For more important business advice, visit our website at bbb.org/central-texas under the “For Businesses” section, or our independent blog at watchyourbuck.com.

Kelly Trevino is the regional director for the Corpus Christi office of Better Business Bureau serving Central, Coastal and Southwest Texas and the Permian Basin. She is available for media interviews and speaking engagements. You can reach her by phone at 361-945-7352 or via email at ktrevino@corpuschristi.bbb.org.

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