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3 Disaster Planning Tips for Distributors

From something as large as a hurricane to something as small as a water main break, all businesses should plan for potential disruptions.

One in four small businesses that are forced to close due to a natural disaster never reopen their doors, according to Gail Moraton of the Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety. In the latest free on-demand episode of Executive Briefing, Moraton tells distributors what to keep in mind as they craft plans for their businesses, including areas of disaster planning that are often overlooked.

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From something as large as a hurricane to something as small as a water main break, Moraton says disruptions are something all businesses should plan for and gives three tips for improving business continuity when disruptions do occur:

  1. Perform a vulnerability assessment. Moraton says the two biggest mistakes businesses make in planning for disruptions are failing to identify a potential threat and underestimating the severity of a known threat. Companies should identify all potential threats and determine the likeliness and potential impact of each as a first step in disaster planning. There is no "one-size-fits-all approach" to assessing risks since companies differ in location, industry and key business objectives, so each distributor must perform its own assessment.
  2. Compile contact information for employers and key customers. Distributors should maintain accurate contacts for all employees, including personal phone numbers and email addresses. They should also maintain records for suppliers and key customers, "because they need to know if their store or office can provide business as usual even if others around them aren't." This information should also be accessible off-site.
  3. Don't forget about your supply chain. In Moraton's experience, many businesses forget to factor in this element. She recommends evaluating current suppliers' continuity plans and referring those suppliers that don't have plans in place to the Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety website, She also recommends looking at current suppliers' geographic locations because natural disasters can make a tight concentration of suppliers problematic.

Moraton walks distributors through determining their most critical business functions and brainstorming ways of keeping them online in this month's episode of Executive Breifing. For a list of disaster planning resources Moraton recommends for distributors, view the episode now.

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