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 firstname.lastname@example.org or 561-302-1719.
Jim Gilbert has had a storied career in direct and digital marketing resulting in a burning desire to tell stories that educate, inform, and inspire marketers to new heights of success.
After years of marketing consulting, Jim decided it was time to “put his money where his mouth was" and build his own e-commerce company, Premo Natural Products, with its flagship product, Premo Guard Bed Bug & Mite Sprays. Premo in its second year is poised to eclipse 100 percent growth.
Jim has been writing for Target Marketing Group since 2006, first on the pages of Catalog Success Magazine, then as the first blogger for its online division. Jim continues to write for Total Retail.
Along the way, Jim has led the Florida Direct Marketing Association as their Marketing Chair and then three-term President, been an Adjunct Professor of Direct and Digital marketing for Miami International University, and created a lecture series, “The 9 Immutable Laws of Social Media Marketing,” which he has presented across the country at conferences and universities.