How Small Business Should Prepare For a Hurricane or Tropical Cyclone

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As the fall season approaches consumers and businesses will begin planning for the new school year, cooler weather, and the peak of hurricane season. The question is will business owners be prepared if and when a powerful storm packing heavy rain and winds in excess of 80 mile per hour should their city.

These monstrous storms are classified in three different types of groups according to their intensity and according to where they are located, for example a storm in the Northwestern Pacific is called a typhoon, while if it is in the Northeast Pacific Basin is known as a Hurricane and lastly if it was in the Indian Ocean it would be called a cyclone. Regardless, all are intense weather conditions to be taken very seriously.

In 2011 the Atlantic hurricane season produced a whooping 50 storms which included cyclones, tropical storms and hurricanes. Further, there are an estimated 9-15 tropical storms expected for the Atlantic season for the year 2012 so itís best to be as prepared as possible, and in advance.

Most people remember when Katrina hit back in 2005 as a category three killing at least 1,000 people but over the years there have been, and will be storms that are just as deadly. For example the Great Galveston Hurricane which hit in 1900 taking over 8,000 lives and in the storm hitting Lake Okeechobee Florida in 1928 taking about 2,500 lives.

The good news is that todayís technology allows us to better prepare for these systems as they move inland and as a result less lives are lost. In preparation we naturally tend to think about important needs like clean bottled water, batteries, and canned food. But for many business owners, especially those in the medical and service industries or those that service clients outside of the affected area, you need to also plan for how you will tend to your customers needs when communications are not available. In most cases your customer will expect you to be available to them, regardless of the situation, and failure to do so might cost you a lot of customers while building the reputation of your competitor that did provide 24 hour service during that period of time.

The best solution may be a live emergency answering service that can take calls on your behalf 24 / 7 and deliver your messages in live time so that you can tend to them as the local conditions improve. In many cases you donít need the service to answer your calls all the time but can use a feature from your local phone company that only forwards calls that are not answered by you within a preset number of rings, usually three. This makes using an outsourced virtual receptionist a very affordable option. Also, consider that a storm could shut power and phones down causing you to entirely miss calls. A service would take messages that would be available long after your power and phones were restored.

Most professional answering services have back up generators and servers located in a secure building and can also farm out calls to another office in another city should their systems be impacted by severe weather or anything else. The key is to make certain that your provider is not a small mom and pop call center that could shut down as well should a storm or other catastrophic event occur. Experts suggest that businesses hire call center services that have at least two locations that are 200 miles apart and collectively have a minimum of fifty agents available to take customer calls.

Today there are small business answering services located in nearly every major metropolitan city and the technology is far greater than it was just five years ago. They can answer call in your company name, keep on call rosters and send messages to the person on call during any preset time or day, send messages by text to cell, book appointments and so much more. Most small businesses find that this solution is far less costly than hiring a full time receptionist, who of course is also subject to sick time and being off on nights, holidays and weekends.

Most service publish there rates and features but to be safe businesses should ask for written proposals and commitment to the companyís ability to provide round the clock service. Lastly, donít forget to get testimonies, and plenty of them.

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