Restarting Your Business After a Natural Disaster

Filed in Business Management, Disaster Response by on September 25, 2017 0 Comments

In the aftermath of the recent hurricanes in Texas and Florida, builders are doing all they can to address the overwhelming demand for their services. But that’s a very tall order, especially for many builders who haven’t yet been able to resume business operations.

Understanding how your business has been affected by a natural disaster and developing a sensible strategy may increase the probability that your firm becomes financially viable in a post-disaster environment.

Here are some tips to get you going:

Establish Communications

As quickly as possible, communication channels need to be established with your team. First, ensure everyone is safe. Then, determine how many team members are able report for work. Recognize that many of them will be addressing their own families’ priorities as well, so consider split shifts.

Keep the lines of communication open with your team. Be completely honest with them about the current status, and establish a timeframe for periodic status checks.

Establish a Place of Business

Following a natural disaster, it is important to establish a place of business — either your existing office or a new one. If the property is structurally sound and your customers, suppliers and staff can reach it safely, you may be able to reopen as soon as the clean-up is complete.

If your existing office isn’t safe, but you can’t afford to shut down completely, consider shifting operations to a temporary location nearby:

  • Check to see if loans or grants have conditions that prohibit relocation
  • Consult with your employees about this location and make sure that they can get there with relative ease
  • Reach out to other businesses to see if they could provide you a temporary base of operations in exchange for services you can provide

Gather and Restore Business Records

Quickly recovering essential business records after a natural disaster is a key step to help you restore operations.

  • Save all of the files that you find during the clean-up phase; do not throw away any records until after you have assessed them
  • Repair any that are damaged yet salvageable, and request new copies of those that were destroyed

Begin the Insurance Process

Before any cleaning begins, notify and meet with your insurance carrier to discuss the claims process and your restoration plans. Find out if you can begin repair work immediately, or if you need to wait for the insurance company to authorize repairs.

Business interruption insurance claims can be very complicated and time consuming, which is why they should be filed as soon as possible. Be prepared to:

  • Document all losses and damages related to the storm
  • Make temporary repairs to prevent further damage
  • Keep damaged items on hand for the insurance adjuster, but protected from further damage
  • Take photos and video footage to show the extent of the damage, and continue documenting throughout the rebuilding phases
  • Maintain an itemized listing of materials and labor used during the repairs
  • Reorganize your bookkeeping to segregate costs related to the business interruption and keep supporting invoices

Keep Employees Safe

After a natural disaster, many hazards can still remain even if they are not readily visible. Those who are involved with the clean-up may be exposed to a number of dangers such as hazardous materials, falling tree limbs and structural instability.

Keep in mind that under OSHA’s “multi-employer worksite doctrine,” employers may be liable for the safety measures provided to employees brought onto their worksites following a natural disaster. Be sure to take the proper precautions and provide warning notifications with appropriate signage, caution tape or cones in areas where hazards exist but access is necessary.

Member can view these resources on nahb.org for details on keeping yourself and your worksite safe after a natural disaster. For additional information, home builders and owners can also visit nahb.org/disasterresponse.

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