Everyone in Florida must be prepared for a hurricane. Every person and every business. All areas of Florida have been “teased” often – being in the forecasted track of the cone of a hurricane – but have been hit infrequently, so the inclination of many may be to ignore the need to prepare. Critically, however, the repercussions of being hit by a hurricane are considerable, so everyone should be prepared regardless of the historic number of hits experienced.
All businesses need to have plans and protocols which will properly prepare the business to (i) protect its employees, (ii) allow its employees to protect their homes and loved ones, (iii) adequately close down business operations, giving notice to all who should know of the closure, (iv) protect its business premises and physical assets, (v) protect its all-important data, (vi) keep its employees and vendors informed and in contact with management, and (vii) try to determine or predict what a hurricane closure may mean to the restart of operations. These plans should be specific to the particular business and should be re-examined often to make certain they do meet the then perceived needs of that business.
Retail businesses have additional planning needs. Retailers must prepare for the impact a hurricane may have on their suppliers, both those within the hurricane impact zone and those outside the impact zone. This is further complicated by the reality that a retailer may be fortunate enough to avoid being hit, but a supplier is not so fortunate. Retailers must ensure that needed goods arrive in the event the hurricane does not hit and that it is properly supplied after a hurricane hits and business returns to normal. Retailers must also ensure that goods do not arrive when the business is shuttered. This alternative planning requires careful thought, planning and communication with primary suppliers. This also requires that alternative suppliers be identified and, where possible, lined up should primary suppliers be impacted by the hurricane. It also requires a realistic assessment by the retailer of the likely needs of its customers after the hurricane occurs, both in the event the hurricane hits and in the event it does not. Although the actual repercussions of any particular hurricane is necessarily guesswork, the planning done before such an event can make a tremendous difference on the ability of a business to survive such an event.