Whether facing the aftermath of natural disaster or a business-related crisis, dealing with serious incidents and catastrophes can put a strangle-hold on your business. Business trade associations estimate that about 25 percent of businesses never reopen following a major disaster. Mr. Sid Fey, property claims director at Nationwide Agribusiness Insurance Company, says getting an impacted business back up and running within a short timeframe can be a daunting task, and yet more down time adds to existing lost revenue. "Larger businesses often have detailed disaster recovery plans, but there are steps businesses of all sizes can take to make it easier to bounce back when disaster strikes," he says.

Getting back to business quickly helps to meet several important goals: showing employees and customers you are committed to rebuilding, meeting processing and delivery commitments, restarting the cash flow, as well as providing a sense of hope and renewed normalcy as residents watch vital businesses come back to life in the aftermath of a natural disaster.

These steps are important steps in dealing with disaster and while geared toward incidents caused by weather or other natural occurrences, they can also be important guideline when dealing with business crisis incidents.

Disaster recovery plan.  All businesses should have a detailed disaster recovery plan. Review your plan and make necessary updates on a yearly basis. Public relations specialists and insurance companies are good sources for developing a plan.

Vital business records.  Review your operations and processes to determine what information needs to be regularly saved or backed up and stored off-site or in a fire-proof vault. That may include customer and vendor lists, financial data, and other information vital to the business's daily operation. Copies of other important documents, such as tax returns, insurance policies, contracts, lease agreements, etc. should also be stored in a vault.


Recovery communications plan . Develop a detailed, written crisis communications plan to identify audiences and target messages.

Review insurance coverage.  Review your insurance policies to be certain coverage is adequate. Overlooking ongoing costs such as employee wages, bank notes, and other operational expenses that may continue until the business is back up and running is a common error. Be sure to report losses as quickly as possible. Many insurance companies have 24/7 claim reporting services.

"Without the right coverage, owners may find themselves lacking the funds to maintain the business after a catastrophic event," says Mr.. Fey. "In a large company with several locations, other divisions or branches can usually absorb some of the work or costs. Small businesses don't have that option." Mr.. Fey adds that a company's insurance agent can help determine how much income coverage is necessary.

Physical recovery from a natural disaster or other devastating event is only part of the battle. In addition to other disaster planning, an appropriate and detailed plan of crisis communications is essential to minimizing lasting effects .