Counselor Commentary: Are You Prepared For Disaster?

Companies Need To Be Prepared For The Worst

Andy CohenHere we go again. The storm that marched across the middle of the country earlier this week and ravaged parts of Alabama, Georgia, and the Carolinas yesterday, is with us in the Northeast today. As the broken record that is this winter keeps skipping along, it’s clear that companies need to be prepared for the worst – whether that’s a natural disaster or simply winter weather that cripples roadways and impacts commerce in ways that can’t even be predicted.

At Counselor, we’ve heard from multiple distributors and suppliers this winter that have been hurt by shipping delays. One CEO of a Top 40 company told us last week that he’s never seen the kind of shipping problems that his company has had to face over the last two months. “It has been rather trying for our whole organization,” he said. “It seems like we’re constantly trying to come up with contingency plans and find new places to ship products because our normal shipping routes are either delayed or completely blocked by the weather. It’s like a weekly conversation at our company.”

Many companies are being forced to have similar conversations. Will my client’s order get to their event on time if the latest storm system gets in the way? Will I be able to fly to my customer meeting? Will the power at our company get knocked out tomorrow? What if we lose any data between power outages? These are all legitimate questions that company executives have been asking themselves – and, frankly, they should know the answers long in advance of a storm approaching. Indeed, disaster preparedness should be more top of mind than it is. Software and security company Symantec recently released a survey that shows that 57% of small and mid-sized businesses don’t have disaster recovery plans in place.

That means far too many companies are acting on the fly when a power outage occurs or their company operations are impacted by weather problems. That’s a bad position to put your company in. A time of crisis – and, even if an office has to shut down for a day because of weather, it should be considered a crisis – is no time to be creating policies and communication strategies. Those should be formed and thought out in advance, so that company employees know exactly what steps they’re going to take and who they’re contacting first when power is lost or operations get interrupted.

Have you done this kind of preparation? Take a look at the in-depth report that Counselor produced last year on the topic for some ideas on how to proceed. Click here to see the article. While the middle of a snow storm isn’t a great time to create new policies, you sure should be ready before the next one comes.