Step one after the fire is out or the flood waters have receded (or both) – if you haven’t already done so – is implementing your comeback plan.
Yes, I said implementing the comeback plan, not creating one. The time to make a serious, well-thought-out recovery plan is not while smoky water drips on your head from the roof.
It’s something to think through long before that.
Some things will change – but if the plan is in place before your disaster happen, you’ll have a plan made by someone who isn’t tired, burned out, mad as heck and frantically trying to figure out where next week’s payroll is coming from.
Here are a few things to consider…
Get a reward program in place (yes, I said it again).
This must be in place and working before your disaster. Why? Because it’ll assure that you know how to contact your best clients. The occasional ones might not realize you were closed for a month. Regulars will notice right away.
Have a serious conversation about this with yourself, your banker, your insurance agent, your accountant and your attorney.
Now is not the time to find out you would’ve been OK if it wasn’t for that really big deductible and flood exclusion despite having your store right next to the river. Pin these folks down. Make them talk about and help you arrange for the ideal recovery.
Figure out how you’re going to keep your valued assets – your people.
With all the other chaos going on, the last problem you need is losing a trained staff. Find a way to involve them in your recovery plan. Do as much as you can to keep paying them – you don’t want to lose them to a competitor.
Make sure your client and accounting data files are backed up offsite
Those backups on CD and USB thumb drive are great – unless you leave them on top of the computer every night where the fire can melt them. Take a thumb drive home at least weekly, if not daily. Make sure it has your customer and financial databases on it, such as your QuickBooks data.
A common reason that businesses fail after a fire or similar disaster is that they don’t have customer records, order records, service records or financial information to work from. They also don’t have the paper to back up that data. If you don’t know who owes you money, who has appointments next week and so on – you’re in trouble.
Communicate with the media and your clients regularly about the progress of your recovery
This is no time to keep secrets. If you will get power tomorrow, let everyone know. Use a blog, press releases, email, postcards, phone calls and other means to get the word out. If you have difficulties during your comeback, talk about it. Get your customers interested in the process. You want the recovery to be “water cooler talk” so people know you are coming back.
Here’s a great example of an “open book” comeback.
Make a fuss about it
Is your serving area shut down? If so, throw a party in the parking lot. Roast weenies, or a pig or barbeque something. Get people to your place of business, even if they have to sit in rental chairs in the parking lot. Just be sure and do it right. Keep them in the habit of coming back, even if the building is a smoldering pile. If they liked you before, give them as many chances to show it as you can.
Go a little bit nuts
Don’t be boring. The press is attracted to eccentricity, but just a little. Funny, silly crazy is fine. Strait jacket crazy is not.
If you cook, build, warehouse or store what you sell, think about how to make that happen in the time right after the fire.
The guy we talked about last week managed to arrange for competitors and friends with kitchens so he could continue fulfilling his catering obligations. That didn’t resolve his retail issues, but it kept the cash flowing. Don’t make the excuses everyone else would make. Show them all they’re wrong and find a way to make it work.
Quitting is the easy thing to do. John Elway and Roger Staubach wouldn’t give up. Why should you?
Stay Connected with the Daily Roundup.
Sign up for our newsletter and get the best of the Beacon delivered every day to your inbox.