What to Consider When Preparing Your Restaurant for a Hurricane
The ferocity of hurricanes and weather events like Superstorm Sandy can devastate businesses like restaurants. Profit margins are extremely low in the foodservice industry to begin with, so when you tack on the impact of floodwaters or damaging winds, those effects can put a restaurant underwater, both literally and figuratively.
That being said, there are some important things to consider when preparing for a storm, and not all of them involve actual preparation. Let’s go through some of these important concepts to help your restaurant or foodservice operation get ready for and recover from a hurricane.
1) Double-check your insurance policy.
This is extremely important and should be done yearly. Make sure you inventory important, big-ticket items by taking photographs or video of them, and then make sure they’re covered in your policy.
“Make sure you review your insurance policies and have business interruption insurance,” says Andre Duart, president of CDR Maguire’s Emergency Management division, which helps states, counties, municipalities, and other organizations prepare for and recover from destructive storms.
One of the quickest ways restaurants go under after a severe weather event is due to business interruption, and insurance can help mitigate this factor.
2) Develop and follow up with a plan.
Specifically, think about your employees. In many cases directly following a storm, your employees will be busy taking care of their own families or needs. Determine in advance who will have availability, and then follow up on that plan as the storm approaches. The most important thing is to ensure everyone’s safe. After those needs are met, get together as a group to discuss the work that needs to get done.
3) And work isn’t just work.
After a storm, spirits are lifted when people see things getting back to normal as quickly as possible. Restaurants can become valuable morale-builders. Think about how much goodwill a restaurant would receive if it could even just roll out a grill into the parking lot and start providing nourishment to first responders and those in need of a meal. Consider using those perishable goods, which could possibly be used as a tax write off, as well.
4) Move inventory to higher ground.
If you store your wine or liquor in a basement cellar, consider moving it to an area of the facility that is less likely to be flooded. Wine and spirits are huge profit makers, but they’re often not insured when it comes to storm damage. Make it a point to find out this information from your insurance company, and move bottles to higher ground.
5) Consider how you’re going to purchase new equipment and supplies after the cameras have gone.
Once the camera crews roll out and your storm isn’t at the top of the national psyche anymore, that’s when the real work begins. Rebuilding. Mitigating for the future. Transforming an operation into a newer version of itself. Check with the Small Business Association in regards to loans for restaurants in recovery.