While natural disasters do not occur very often; however, very few home and business owners are prepared for when the unexpected does happen. This can include thousands of dollars in repair costs, depending on the size of the property and extent of the damage. However, there is a way to save a large percentage of the costs and time in repairs with proper planning, such as choosing a professional restoration provider. Not only can this save time and money in repair, but it can save lives. Although it is extremely difficult to predict when exactly a natural disaster will strike, stepping forward and taking proper precaution can prevent severe damages to homes and buildings.
When following the steps of disaster planning, RestorationMaster ensures that there are two factors involved in every situation: (1) those who have taken proper precautions before experiencing a disaster have saved thousands of dollars in repair costs and (2) not many people think that a disaster would happen to them. Simply by understanding and following a set of steps, you can save your property, business, and the lives of everyone involved.
Your experience level and recognition are imperative when it comes to the success of your business continuance program. This program involves a general overview of the issues that are involved in the planning process of business continuity. It includes the general information, provided that all individuals involved have an understanding of the technical skills that are needed when it comes to continuity and contingency. While each situation is unique, each step discussed will be generic.
The steps to take in a business continuity and contingency plan include the following:
- Train all employees on the emergency plan
- Establish awareness of all types of natural disasters
- Practice a positive and confident image while present at the business
- Prevent the extremities of the disruption as much as possible
- Limit the disruptions and suspensions of daily business activities as much as possible
- Prevent as much damage as possible during a large loss
- Improve the restoration services
- Resume daily business activities within a certain period of time
- Provide employee safety at all times during times of an emergency
Pre-Loss Planning Process
Executive support is essential when it comes to establishing an efficient and effective plan. If it is not created ahead of time, time will be lost and the necessary resources will not be allocated efficiently to complete the task. The plan must be presented to upper management for approval as well as their knowledge of what to do when the unexpected occurs. Overall, it is essential that the required objectives are shared and the emergency restoration budget I reviewed in order to implement the overall program. Ultimately, the total costs and time in repairs will be minimized after these initiatives have been planned and taken.
The Planning Committee’s Responsibility during the Process
After the plan has been reviewed and approved by upper management, it is the responsibility of the planning committee to review and implement it. All members must take a holistic approach, listening to the viewpoints from all departments within the company. Finally, all concerns, ideas, and communication is made clear from the creation of the plan to the time that it is implemented.
Executive in Charge. This person is in charge of the organization as whole and has the responsibility of acting on any documents that are needed in order to enhance and make the recovery process more effective by RestorationMaster.
Committee Chairperson. While different organizations will use unique titles, they will have an individual that is in charge of risk planning, such as Business Continuity Planner, Risk Manager, etc. This person oversees the risk planning and flow of the overall recovery from a large loss. In large organizations, this person will often communicate with the insurance company, making the appropriate decisions and assembling the needed services that work in the best interest of the company.
Broker/Agent. When coordinating with the insurance policy, the broker must aid in the insurance claims process. They must be able to provide all information to the insurance company, the disaster victim, and all others involved in the process. They must also have knowledge and experience in communicating with the restoration provider of the resources that are needed. This includes the following: salvage agents, temporary equipment, and other disaster restoration services.
Adjuster. This person is in charge of the representation of the interest of the insurance company. Although it is the mission of the claims agent for the process to run as smoothly as possible, the adjuster must ensure that the needs of both the customer and insurance company are met. RestorationMaster highly suggests that the insurance company is involved to ensure clear and open communication during the entire restoration process.
Delegates/Department Leaders. Representation is needed from all departments, including: communications, support, records management, personnel, integrated systems, operation, accounting, personnel, distribution, and warehouse to provide all necessary information to complete a Risk Analysis.
Property Owner. The property owner must be involved in the disaster planning process in order to make decisions that work in the best interest of the company when the unexpected occurs. Any problems with the building structure must also be reported to this individual.
Purchasing. In order to save costs, it may be necessary to outsource services and process on a temporary or even long-term basis, in addition to the replacement of stock and raw materials. The procurement process must also seek disaster restoration services and allow for contingencies during daily operations instead of the time of a disaster.
Review the Insurance Policy
In order to ensure proper planning, business owners must act as though the occurrence of a catastrophe is a matter of “when”, not “if.” They should also be knowledgeable of their insurance policy and claims process. This way, time is not wasted reviewing the plan after the disaster has already hit. When doing this, be sure to focus on the clauses, exclusions, business interruption, values and limits, and all other fine print. RestorationMaster highly recommends that this plan is reviewed with a claims agent so that all questions can be answered at the time the plan is read.
Regulation of Authorities
If you have experienced a fire, flood, or other form of natural disaster, there is a probability that one or several government agencies are involved as a part of the emergency response. As the property owner, your responsibility in this step is to incorporate their services within the recovery process of your business.
In the occurrence of a property fire, it is important to utilize the services of the fire department as much as possible. This includes the establishment and execution of an evacuation plan and that all employees are aware of the escape routes. The building should have multiple placards and inform emergency services of all possible hazards and risks that may occur from within. You can also go over this plan with an individual from your local fire department to ensure its clarity and help them to understand your priorities during a time of emergency.
If the disaster occurs within a specific town, the local law enforcement will arrive to bring order and protection within the affected location. Keep in mind that law enforcement from the county, state, and municipality level may also be involved in the recovery process. This will vary indefinitely within each region; however, it is imperative that the representative, or the committee chairperson, knows and understands their local policy. Finally, gaining access to your building can be delayed or even denied without proper identification or credentials. Only creating and maintaining a relationship with these agencies will prevent this from happening.
In the situation that only the city is involved, it is important to know who is the first contact, such as the police department, the Mayor’s office, the fire marshal, or other emergency agency. If the damage has affected multiple municipalities or cities, the county agencies are involved. It is important to find out whether the sheriff’s department or other defense organizations are involved at this level. For state level disaster, the Department of Public Service, governors, and even the National Guard may be involved.
For multiple affected regions, the federal government agencies, such as the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will be the first contact. If there was arson or explosives involved, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF) and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) will be contacted.
When these emergencies occur, it is important to know that there are many factors that will be out of your control. When determining the government agencies that will take part in the recovery process before the disaster occurs, it will save valuable time and money.
Inventory of Capital Assets
When prepared for a natural disaster, you will have a detailed inventory of each piece of machinery and equipment. Otherwise, it is difficult to create the list if a large number of items have been destroyed. When creating this inventory, the following should be noted: types, age, manufacturer, original cost, and other costs, including: freight, modifications, peripherals, and installation. RestorationMaster strongly recommends that the creation of this last not be outsourced as it can be done using in-house resources. But keep in mind that this list will not include the daily expenses in addition to capital items whose book value has been amortized and is no longer on the ledger. As these values will be important to the company, they must also be listed on the inventory. Lastly, the list should be updated regularly while keeping photographic or videotape records. They must then be copied and store off-site in a fire-resistant safe.
Establish and Maintain Valuable Records
In order to maintain valuable documents, it is imperative to create copies and store them off-site in addition to “backing up” all electronic files, at least bi-weekly. However, the majority of business owners continue to keep their records at their facilities and months may go by without backing up their files on their computer.
Ultimately, problems can and will occur as a result of recreating inventory, appraisals, and ledgers. In contrast, those who manage the records and documents are the most knowledgeable and properly trained when it comes to the establishment and implementation of a contingency plan. They will also agree that taking the essential steps and possible cause-and-effect scenarios.
RestorationMaster believes that about 6% of business records are provided in their original form. It is also crucial to define what is essential in the business’ recovery process. These can include the following: federal mandate, business needs, customer demand, and more. In most cases, at least one copy of this document is needed. This is due to the fact that it is essential to have the condition of the original document as well as the information itself.
All participants within the business contingency planning committee are responsible for getting all information necessary to complete an insurance claim. The company will assume that this information will represent all departments of the company, although they do not know the responsibilities of each department nor do they know the sense urgency that needs to be taken. However, once they have been identified, it is essential to educate them on the problems that are related to their daily activities.
The first situation of an objective can include a Risk Analysis or Hazard Analysis. All members of the team must be involved in these scenarios in which a catastrophe can occur. A Hazard Analysis allows for a number of situations that include: natural, technical, or human safety threats. The company’s operational area should always be analyzed thoroughly in order to identify the possible and probable damage that can occur. When analyzing, the following must be considered: reduced quality, loss of competitive advantage, customer services, operation impacts; financial impact and exposures; intangible impacts, such as employee confidence, public opinion, and employee morale; critical business function; requirements for business continuation; and loss of customers.
When factoring in site location, stored material, domiciled region, building construction, and other similar factors, specific problems are more likely to occur than others. Though it is impossible to determine every possible situation, RestorationMaster suggests to plan for as many what-if scenarios as possible.
Business Impact Analysis
The Business Impact Analysis (BIA) will work with the accounting department to determine the real value of the business while it is not in operation. One of the tasks of this department includes a reasonable timeframe in which the operations will resume, even a timeline, if necessary, to repair the building and/or temporary relocating. The BIA is also responsible for identifying what is most important in terms of getting the business up and running, considering the interdisciplinary factors of each department.