Mother Nature doesn’t play favorites. Hurricanes may hit the South, but tornado damage can impact the Midwest and wildfire damage can strike in almost any state.
Watch the news and you see almost every day how freak storms can suddenly impact the lives of people in a multitude of communities from coast to coast. But, what happens if a storm lands in your neighborhood?
“We’ve all seen remarkable stories of big box retailers and local dealers going ‘above and beyond’ to help out when tragic weather hits an area,” says Michael Sekely, director of operations and logistics with Weyerhaeuser Distribution. “Those businesses that decide to open their doors to support local people with survival and rebuilding efforts are the companies that will forever be admired in their communities.”
While we all hope severe weather will not impact our lives or businesses, it’s smart to have a plan of action just in case the unthinkable happens. “Planning ahead can bring a sense of calm and efficiency even in a chaotic situation,” says Sekely. “Having a plan in place that all key personnel at your location are familiar with and have practiced can help your team react quickly and efficiently in a crisis.”
The team at Weyerhaeuser Distribution has put together this checklist of ideas for you and your company leaders to consider now … before bad weather strikes.
Tip #1 – Make a plan. Determine how to contact and support employees and their families if severe weather strikes. You’ll need to gain assurance of their safety and decide how to deploy employees to help at your location if they’re able.
Tip #2 – Practice your plan. It’s not enough to have a written document; your team needs the practice step of engaging with the plan to make sure it works. Consider getting local fire departments involved for drills or work on a surprise “injured person down drill” coordinated with local first responders.
Tip #3 – Assess your location. After bad weather hits, determine if your location is functional and able to open for business. Do you have power, water, etc. to handle regular operational needs? What about enough staffing? Are the roads leading to your location clear? Is your parking lot accessible?
Tip #4 – Get into emergency mode. Determine what hours your location will be open and what your business practices will be. Consider how you can best serve the community at large while also handling the needs of existing customers. Be ready for residents to flood your store asking for key items needed in a disaster, such as plywood, tarps, work gloves, duct tape and even power generators.
Tip #5 – Communicate. First, get to your employees and tell them about your plans. If your location is operational, let your regular customers know. Then, let the local media know so they can publicize your hours and ability to offer services to the community at large. Also, contact your Weyerhaeuser rep and other key vendors to let them know you may need emergency product deliveries.
Tip #6 – How will your company help? In post-crisis weather situations, simply opening your doors is a big first step. Next, realize the panic that may be taking place by area residents and your customers whose homes may be partially destroyed. Think ahead to decide if you’ll extend credit to people without current accounts, how you can order “necessity” products quickly from your suppliers, and how to staff your location if some (or the majority) of your staff can’t come in to work.