Preparation limits disaster impact

NO business can ever be 100% weatherproofed but several steps can be taken to ensure you are as prepared as possible if disaster hits.

Tourism Queensland has been running “weatherproof your business” workshops ever since Cyclone Ului hit, and they have unfortunately proven increasingly important in the wake of recent floods and Cyclone Yasi.

Twenty-four Sunshine Coast businesses were represented at two workshops in Montville and Maroochydore last week, organised by TQ industry innovation director Therese Phillips.

“We realised at the time of Cyclone Ului that a lot of our operators didn’t have an understanding of what prepa- ration they needed to get through a weather crisis,” Ms Phillips said.

“So this four-hour workshop gives them a memory stick loaded with lot of documents they can use and it gets them thinking and talking about what they can do to prepare and what support is available to them.

“It is so much better if you have this conversation before a crisis.”

Representatives from council and Emergency Services Queensland were on hand to paint a picture of what the region would look like in a crisis, where the evacuation centres were and to remind people that council phone lines were always kept local, and not diverted, in emergencies.

“If you do your preparation work well enough, you can minimise the damage to your business,” Ms Phillips said.

“So if you have cash-flow problems now, speak to your bank well in advance of you needing to go and ask for a bridging loan.

“What’s the tipping point for your business? If you don’t know, you are not in a viable position.

“I remember one of the businesses up north who had his boat business wiped out by Ului. Because they had attended the workshop, they’d had conversations with banks and their fellow boat owners at the marina.

“So when the weather crisis hit, they managed to have the other owners take over their senior staff, while they paid a portion of their wages.

“Then they had staff ready for when they reopened.”

THINK ABOUT IT:

Communication is key: between you and clients, staff, suppliers.

What are the top three vulnerable areas your business faces in crisis

Build a “go pack” with insurance papers, bank account numbers, current and forward bookings, staff contact numbers etc

Identify a replacement if you are hospitalised

Write up event logs and display them prominently

Learn how to deal with media

Talk to your insurance broker

Remember your obligations to staff


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