Hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, avalanches, wildfires, and mudslides. It seems that no area is safe from disaster. And since you don’t always know when or where disaster will strike, both businesses and families should be prepared. And that includes having messages on hold prepared and ready to go should disaster strike in your area.
Disasters can also cost companies lots of money. In fact, after Hurricane Sandy ravaged the East Coast, one study reported that the storm had a devastating impact on many small and medium-sized businesses.
Should a disaster strike in your area, how prepared is your business?
A Disaster Caused By Giant Lizards?
Most businesses have a disaster recovery plan somewhere. I bet if everyone in your office dug through all the dusty notebooks on their shelves, someone might even find one. When was the last time you reviewed it, as a management team or with the entire staff? Is it still relevant? Is it customized to your particular location, or is it a cookie-cutter printout you got to fulfill a mandate from somewhere?
In the acclaimed 1970’s sitcom, WKRP radio newsman, Les Nessman, thought he was reporting the biggest story of the year when he made this startling announcement: “Monster Lizard Ravages East Coast!”
It turned out to be one of the most famous typos of all time.
In a later episode, with tornadoes threatening the city of Cincinnati, the station’s program manager told Les to get on the air and read from the station’s disaster plan, one that was uniquely suited to the Cold War, not a cold front. “Just insert the word ‘tornado’ where you need to,” Andy told Les. This led to the hilarious clip of the station’s news director warning about “armies of godless tornadoes” invading the River City.
That’s a lesson for every business: keep your disaster plan up to date!
Develop A Business Disaster Plan A good disaster plan starts with these two steps: make a plan and communicate it. But let’s dig a little deeper.
Make a Plan: If you don’t have a disaster plan or if it’s time to update the plan, ask yourself these questions:
After the immediate threat to life has passed, you need a plan to communicate with employees and customers.
Communicate the Plan: Having a plan is critical. But you also have to communicate the plan if you want it carried out. And don’t think that just printing up a bunch of notebooks will do it, either.
Have annual meetings about the disaster plan. Consider having a small committee that reviews the plan each year and revises it as needed. Definitely have a full staff meeting to communicate the details of the plan. Staff members need to feel confident about their role during the disaster, and the company’s expectations. For example:
Communicate to your customers as well. You probably don’t need signs and posters around the building all the time, but consider posting disaster procedures when severe weather is possible. Also, know who on your team will manage your website and social media channels. Those will be critical avenues for two-way communication.
Your telephone messages on hold are a critical component of all your communications, and they can play a key role during a disaster, too. Many customers, vendors and partners will call to check on your business if they hear of a disaster in your area. If things are not business as usual, don’t let your messages on hold suggest otherwise. Through the years, On Hold Company has worked with clients to provide Crisis Communications for messages on hold to keep callers updated and informed in times like these.
After recent disasters, severe weather is a threat that people take seriously. It’s unnerving to realize that, within a couple of hours, or even minutes, everything familiar can be destroyed around you. A good disaster plan gives your employees the tools and training to keep their heads during a crisis and protect lives and property.