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Business Flood Recovery

After the Calgary Flood:  20 Steps to Business Recovery

Tenato comes from word “tenacity” — and we’re already thinking about how businesses can ready themselves to recover from Calgary’s amazing 2013 flood.  We thought some forward thinking ideas might help you get moving forward….and if we do get hit, we’ve got the mop and bucket at the ready…..eek!

1.    Call your insurance agent, landlord, and banker if needed. There is no reason not to get the documentation started and ensure you know what and when you can get recovery funds or short term loans/extended payment terms.  The sooner the better.
2.    Keep a business journal of the disaster. Document everything you’re doing to mitigate your losses, and everything you’re spending.   This will ensure you’re ready to face your claims agent.
3.    Clean up as soon as it’s safe.   Book NOW to get your business cleaned, dried and aired out.  The sooner you mitigate your loss of business damages, the less headache you’ll have with insurers. You’ll also prevent your customers from going elsewhere.
4.    Post (Frequent) updates online and on voicemail.  Make sure your clients and prospects know you’re either okay, or not okay – and what you’re doing about it.   Post frequent updates on all your social media sites to let people know you’re not going out of business – no matter how long it takes, the world needs to know you are alive and kicking.  Post photos where you can to show progress.
5.    Get your building inspected.  Ensure the premises is safe and to code before allowing customers back inside.
6.    Solicit ideas from your staff, and make a plan.   While your staff might not be able to get to work, ask the whole team for their top ideas to help your business recover from the flood.   Get together in a dry place, and map out a plan – use this list as a resource pool too, and make a plan that works for you.  Each person on the team may be able to work different times, shifts and roles to get you back up and running.
7.    Assess each staff member for his or her ability to help.  Some people might have more capability to participate than others –it depends on how much their home lives have been devastated.   Perhaps some staff/personnel can supply shelter or supplies to others.  Some may have to cover shifts or duties of others.   Call a meeting in a safe dry location – or set up a Web Meeting (if not possible at your office) and get everybody’s input into the plan.
8.    Contact all clients by phone.  Phone contact keeps it personal… especially the ones who are awaiting projects from you, and explain the situation.   Much better to be proactive than to have your clients wondering why you forgot them.
9.    Supplier notification. Are you selling house siding, gravel, flowers, paint, plumbing services, or other home-related fix-up supplies? If you think you’re going to get a rush of demand, get in touch with your suppliers to let them know the situation – see how fast they can rush product out to you.  As to other supplier with whom you may have payables, take a pro-active stance and let them know the situation.   If you’ve been a good customer all along, they will likely do whatever they can to help you out in your time of need.
10.    Call in your friends and followers if you need them.   Have a few hundred Facebook Friends, Twitter Followers or Likes?  If you need it, call them in for help. Offer them whatever thank-you gifts or discount memberships you can.   This is an excellent opportunity to bond more closely with the people who already like your business, and build long-term relationships that may have only been “surface level” to this point.
11.    As soon as you’re ready, post visible “We’re Open” signage.  Get a big banner, and maybe even some helium balloons or external decor ready to post outside and around your business – let people know visually that you are there and back in action.
12.    Flood Sale.   You may need to quickly sell any damaged merchandise.   In addition just putting signs in the window, post items on e-bay, Kijiji and/or Craigslist.
13.    Work with surrounding businesses.   This might be a perfect time to organize a recovery party to attract traffic to your area.   With Stampede around the corner, maybe a flood recovery Stampede breakfast date can be chosen.   Pool your resources and invite everybody to help each other!  Consider organizing a meeting with your surrounding businesses right away.
14.    Keep your phones and computers on.    Think virtually!  Just because your bricks and mortar location might be flooded, it doesn’t mean you can’t operate virtually.   Update your website and make sure you’re answering your phones.  Let your staff work from home – communication within your business circles will prevent panic in the whole team.
15.    Help the civil servants!   If you business is okay, give whatever you can to help the city and its civil servants recover the community—whether you’ve got donuts to offer, blankets, furniture, food, shovels, or flowers.     The sooner everybody gets back to normal, the sooner we’ll start getting back to being consumers.
16.     If you’ve got the resources, book ad spaces now.   The papers, online mobile ads, and radio stations are going to fill up with FLOOD SALE ads – so if you want a piece of the action, book your space now.   Give us a call if you need a hand with this…we can prepare fast ads and get campaigns going very quickly.  What’s even better is that newspaper and media readership in Calgary will be at record highs over the next few weeks – and you can take advantage of the heightened interest to get great response to your ads.
17.    Create a page within your website just for your FLOOD SALE specials.  Keep the page updated with merchandise and services, and what’s available as it sells off.
18.    Optimize your FLOOD SALE or FLOOD RECOVERY page.  Include keywords and consider a Google Adwords campaign to drive traffic.   This could be a chance to boost unit sales – maybe you can turn a negative into a positive and gain a whole lot of new customers!
19.    Consider a PR campaign.  This incident is going to be in the national news for a few days to a few weeks. If you’re badly hit, it’s a story in the media – and this could give you the exposure you need to get back on your feet.   If you’re not the worst hit, you can reach out to help businesses that need you, and be the spokesperson for all of them – putting on a fundraising concert, or rallying the community.
20.     Community Relations.  This is the absolute best time to show what your business has to offer the community.  Can you sponsor the re-build of a school playground?  Replacement of a community centre?   Flower beds?  Donate rubber boots to all school children?  Offer shelter?  Whatever you have to offer, helping people in their time of need will be appreciated and remembered.  It also makes you feel great!

As for what we can do — we’re offering free business flood recovery marketing consultations during the months of June and July 2013 (we normally charge $699 for strategy consultations).  Just give us a call at (403) 242-1127 to book a date and time.

Our thoughts and prayers are with all of you.

Have you got any thoughts or tips to add?   Please give us your feedback – we’re here to help!

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About the Author - Jacqueline Drew
Jacqueline M. Drew, BComm, MBA is founder and CEO of Tenato Strategy Inc., a marketing research and strategy firm with bases in Calgary, Vancouver and Toronto. With over 25 years' experience in all facets of marketing strategy, she is a business consultant, trainer and speaker who loves to use her superpowers "to help the good guys win."

One thought on “Business Flood Recovery

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