When Disaster Strikes: My Annual Preparedness Guide to Surviving a Disaster
It’s July in Florida, that wonderful time of year for electrical storms suggestive of primordial weather. The sky is black and hurricane season is underway. We lucked out last year after getting slammed by the likes of Wilma, Charlie and others the two years prior. I hope our luck holds this year.
Elsewhere in the country, there is flooding, wildfires, an earthquake near San Francisco and record heat waves. Then stir in our Department of Homeland Security chief’s vague warning about his “gut feeling” that some terrorist action is coming soon, and you have all of the elements necessary for my annual disaster planning article.
You don’t need me to tell you that disasters happen without warning and at any time. So I urge you to be prepared. Here are some ways:
1. Have a business-survival disaster plan in place. Get your department heads involved as stakeholders. Let your employees know what happens if …
2. Publish a list of all emergency contact numbers for your key personnel and vendors. Include home phone numbers, cell phones and personal e-mail addresses as alternative ways of contact if main communication channels go down.
3. Designate someone in your company as chief disaster planning officer.
4. Back up your computer systems regularly. Then back up your backups off-site.
5. Work with your call center to make sure it can operate if disaster strikes. If you use an external call center, inquire about its disaster plan.
6. If your call center is on-site, consider hiring a backup call center to take your calls in case of emergency. (This one saved my client’s bacon a few years ago.)
7. If you host your own Web site, stop and seriously consider farming it out to a third party. Or make sure you have a plan in place if the lights go out. Find out what your ISP does if it loses its electricity.
8. If your business is in a disaster-prone area, buy a generator. Also, contact any vendors located in disaster-prone areas and inquire as to their readiness. Disasters, either natural or man-made, easily can interrupt your work flow with printers, the post office and just about all other vendors.
9. Don’t mail into disaster-affected areas.
10. If you’ve already mailed and a disaster occurs, factor your results down when making any future projections.
You can never be over-prepared, but you can lose your shirt easily if you aren’t.
Speak with you next week.
Jim Gilbert is president of Gilbert Direct Marketing, a full-service catalog and direct marketing agency. You can reach him at email@example.com or 561-302-1719.
Jim Gilbert has been creating direct marketing programs that drive superior ROI for almost 30 years. Fluent in consumer or B-to-B, creative, operations, and analytics, he marries the strategic and tactical sides of direct and social media marketing in a seamless fashion that gets results. He's CEO of a multidiscipline direct marketing agency, Gilbert Direct Marketing, Inc., which focuses on direct mail, catalogs, DRTV, telemarketing, print, alternative direct marketing media and social media marketing. Jim has been involved in start-ups, expansions and turnarounds, and is an expert in helping multichannel marketers get to the "next level." He's a former adjunct professor, teaching direct marketing at Miami International University, and is President of the Board of Directors of the Florida Direct Marketing Association. Jim loves to talk direct marketing, and has done many lectures on direct and social media marketing.