How to Prepare Your Franchise Business for a Natural Disaster

As the recent tornadoes in Ottawa and Gatineau have proven, disasters can strike at any moment. Flooding, ice storms, hurricanes, blizzards, earthquakes, tsunamis, wildfires and any other natural disaster can leave your franchise business in a state of ruin.

But, that doesn’t mean you have to be unprepared. There may be nothing you can do to predict the weather, but you can put yourself in a position to bounce back if the worst happens.

In order to have your franchise business prepared for a natural disaster, follow these steps:


1. Get your insurance in order

The first line of defence against natural disasters is to have your business insured for them. If something happens, you don’t want to be caught with inadequate insurance. Your buildings, your equipment and other assets of your business should have the proper insurance so you aren’t left with nothing. Your franchisor may be able to help you choose the best coverage for your particular area of the country.

2. Have a plan

Technically, you’ll need multiple plans, some of which are mandated by law. You should have an evacuation plan for if you need to get everyone out of the building fast and also keep in mind that these routes should be accessible to all employees and customers, even if they have mobility issues. All employees should know where the most secure part of the building is in case of something like the aforementioned tornado where you would want to stay inside and everyone should know how and when to get there.

For other disasters that you can see coming like ice storms, hurricanes and floods, you will need a plan to secure the building with things like shutters, sandbags and anything else you will require to keep your building and equipment as safe as possible. You may need to move some of your equipment to a safer spot, so it would be helpful to identify one ahead of time.

Plans also include what you will do if you have to ship anything or you offer a service that might get disrupted due to the disaster. Most customers will be understanding, but you should put a notice up on your website that service will be disrupted due to the disaster. Being part of a franchise family, you may be able to arrange for shipments or appointments to be filled by another franchise location temporarily.

And, of course, you’ll also need a cleanup plan afterward. Know what you need to do for your insurance claim and know who is going to help you clean things up. Your franchisor might be of some assistance with the cleanup.

3. Train your employees

You can’t take it for granted that everyone will automatically know what to do in an emergency. Train employees so everyone can be prepared and everyone knows their role when a disaster strikes. If it’s feasible, you can also have all of or at least some of your employees trained in first aid. If you cannot offer to pay for the entire course, you could just offer to reimburse a portion of the cost of a course to give employees incentive to get the training.

Know who is going to be in charge of what if a disaster strikes and keep a list of all employee phone numbers somewhere secure so you can contact everyone and make sure they are all safe.

Keep up to date on all news about inclement weather or major events happening in your area like wildfires so you are not caught off guard by anything.

4. Stockpile what you need to

You’ll need standard safety equipment like fire extinguishers and first aid kits, along with training on how to use them, but you might also need to stock up on other things, too. Flashlights are always good to have, for example. If you know a flood is imminent, you can stock up on sand bags. Depending on what type of disaster it is, there may be other items you’ll need to stockpile.

5. Let your priorities be known

Buildings and equipment can all be replaced. People can’t. A disaster is traumatic for everyone, so let your employees know that they are your top priority when it comes to a natural disaster or any other type of disaster, for that matter. They’ll appreciate knowing that you value them above everything else in your business.

Hopefully you will never have to suffer through a major natural disaster, but if you do, being prepared is crucial. Before your franchise business can survive a disaster, you have to have a business. If you are ready to take the leap into franchising, sign up for a free FranNet franchise search and consultation today. We would be thrilled to help you.  

Oct 9, 2018