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Tips on Reopening Your Business After a Natural Disaster

Author: ServiceMaster Restore

Rebuilding After a Natural Disaster 

A natural disaster can occur at a moment's notice. Within seconds, your business can be damaged or destroyed, forcing you to close your doors until you can get back up and running. Unfortunately, businesses that haven’t implemented a Disaster Restoration plan before the unthinkable happens may likely be unable to reopen their doors after a loss. In fact, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), up to 40 percent of small businesses never reopen their doors after a natural disaster strikes. With lack of planning for financial damages, property destruction, loss of essential business documents and equipment, and taking care of staff needs, it can be difficult for business owners to rebuild when disaster strikes.

Luckily, the experts at ServiceMaster Restore are here to help. Use these tips to get your business back on its feet as soon as you can after disaster strikes.

Tips to help you reopen your business effectively:

Safety First:

Prioritize the safety of your employees and customers. Ensure that the premises are safe and free from hazards before allowing anyone to enter.

Assess Damage:

Conduct a thorough assessment of the damage to your business property and infrastructure. Document the extent of the damage for insurance claims and recovery efforts.

Contact Your Insurance Provider:

Notify your insurance provider promptly and start the claims process. Review your policy to understand what is covered and the steps required for filing a claim.

Secure Your Property:

Take steps to secure your business property to prevent further damage or theft. This may include boarding up windows, repairing damaged roofs, or installing temporary security measures.

Communication Is Key:

Keep your employees, customers, suppliers, and stakeholders informed about your situation and recovery progress. Clear and timely communication can build trust and loyalty.

Financial Assessment:

Evaluate your financial situation and create a budget for recovery expenses. Consider seeking financial assistance or loans to cover immediate costs if needed.

Reconnect with Suppliers and Vendors:

Contact your suppliers and vendors to discuss timelines for resuming deliveries and services. Ensure you have a plan for restocking inventory.

Seek Outside Help:

While FEMA provides financial assistance to businesses that are located in a federally declared disaster area, the process of receiving aid can take some time, especially when an astronomical number of claims are being filed. Have a backup plan in place to ensure you're able to cover the costs of repairs in a punctual manner.

Consider purchasing a flood insurance plan that specifically covers natural disasters. The Small Business Administration (SBA) may also be a good place to turn for help. Through the organization's Office of Disaster Assistance, businesses that are located in declared disaster areas can apply for low-interest, long-term loans to make repairs and replacements.

Employee Support:

Address the needs of your employees, including their safety, pay, and benefits. Be flexible and understanding during their recovery process.

Temporary Location:

If your business location is severely damaged, explore options for temporary or alternative operating spaces.

Regulatory Compliance:

Ensure that you meet all regulatory requirements and obtain necessary permits before reopening. This may include building inspections, health department approvals, and compliance with local zoning regulations.

IT and Data Recovery:

Restore your IT infrastructure and data. Ensure that critical systems are operational, and data is securely recovered.

Utilities and Services:

Verify that utilities such as water, electricity, and gas are restored. Arrange for necessary services like internet and phone lines.

Inventory Assessment:

Evaluate your inventory for damage and losses. Dispose of damaged items properly and restock as needed.

Marketing and Communication:

Develop a marketing and communication plan to inform customers about your reopening. Consider promotions or special offers to attract returning and new customers.

Emergency Preparedness:

Learn from the disaster and update your emergency preparedness plan. Take steps to improve resilience against future disasters.

Employee Training:

Train your employees on new safety measures or procedures that may be necessary after the disaster.

Community Involvement:

Engage with your local community and consider participating in relief efforts or initiatives. Building goodwill can have long-term benefits.

Remember that recovery after a natural disaster can be a gradual process, and it's essential to be patient and adaptable. Seek support from government agencies, business associations, and disaster recovery organizations to navigate the challenges. By taking these steps and focusing on safety and preparedness, you can increase your chances of successfully reopening your business after a disaster.

If the unexpected does happen, remember that you’re not alone. Count on the experts at ServiceMaster Restore to guide and support you throughout the recovery process and help get your business back up and running again as quickly as possible. Call us today at 1-800-RESPOND.

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