Preparing Your Restaurant for Natural Disasters

Natural disasters are unpredictable and can wreak havoc on your business operations and profits. Failure to properly prepare in advance for a natural disaster can cause unrecoverable financial losses and put you out of business. Here are some important things to keep in mind when creating your preparations for natural disasters:

Plan ahead

Every business has a critical role in preparedness. Putting a disaster plan in motion now will improve the likelihood that your restaurant will survive, recover and thrive even after weather strikes. Establishing a disaster communication plan with your local regulatory and safety agencies also establishes you as a good community citizen.

The most important step every owner and operator should take is creating a multiple scenario plan. Know what you will do 5 days prior to a disaster, 3 days before, 24 hours before. Identify store managers, food operation leaders and other key roles in the plan. Allocate responsibilities and map out a phone chain for employee communications. Hold a meeting to give out roles and responsibilities. Ultimately, the critical goal is to control your risk and keep everyone safe.

Plan to stay in business

Business continuity planning must take in account all hazards. You should plan in advance to manage any emergency situation. Assess the situation, use common sense and available resources to take care of yourself, your team members and your business’s recovery. You and your employees are your business’s most important and valuable asset. Make sure to think through:

  • Emergency planning – align with local resources to establish a quick response plan for your restaurant
  • Medical emergency planning – keep critical equipment in-store and map out nearby medical facilities and hospitals
  • Tactical and food preservation planning – understand the longevity of your food supplies and create a preparedness plan to secure additional equipment or power and water resources
  • Consider purchasing food contamination insurance as part of your long term restaurant protection plan

Plan to protect your property

Protecting your business means taking precautions and being proactive at all times, even if you don’t think weather will cause a major disruption in your operations. Weather is unpredictable and can take you by surprise. Be ready to take these steps:

  • Secure your building.
  • Cover non-impact resistant windows.
  • Cover and move all equipment or furniture to a secure area.
  • Protect all data by creating back up les or enlist an outside vendor for data archiving and protection services ahead of time.
  • Prepare a list of vendors critical to daily operations and distribute to your key managers and employees.
  • Make provisions for alternate communications and power, especially if your business can’t afford to shut down.
  • Be prepared to have limited access to banking services.
  • Plan on losing some water, sewer, electrical and phone service.
  • Ensure primary and secondary backup communications such as radios, CBs, two-way radios or messenger systems.
  • If you do shut down during a weather emergency, keep clear communication paths open for employees and customers.
  • Create a micro-web site to allows employees and customers to access up to date information or 
at least use a voice-mail message to provide a status update.
  • Consider co-oping with a backup vendor outside your area to help with food supplies, storage and other needs.

Besnard Advisors can help you and your team develop an effective plan to prepare your restaurant for natural disasters.

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