Disaster readiness during hurricane season
The year was 1992. I was just a kid in Miami making the best summer memories when suddenly a Category 5 hurricane was barreling its way towards South Florida. There are many things I remember about living through Hurricane Andrew, but a few stick out:
- The beautiful weather on August 23rd, causing me to disbelieve that a hurricane was hours away from making landfall
- The sounds of the windows breaking and the winds whipping throughout the house for hours
- The 17 days after August 24th when we were without power (an inconvenience grossly exacerbated by Miami’s notorious summer heat)
In 1992, staying connected had an entirely different meaning than it does today. Because I was so young then, I have no idea how companies navigated so much time without power in addition to picking up the pieces from a city completely destroyed by Andrew’s force.
Now, it’s almost impossible to imagine being without power for 17 days and the catastrophic implications that would have on any business’s profit margins.
Today, 28 years since Hurricane Andrew made landfall and with hurricane season in full swing, it’s a good time to discuss disaster readiness.
With a little preparation, you can ready your business to face disasters and support clients who are in affected areas.
Enact your business continuity plan
If you have a business continuity plan, now is the time to make sure you’ve got everything in order to put it into action. If you haven’t quite developed your business continuity plan yet, there are still steps you can take to prepare your business and your customers to weather the current storm (that being said, you should make it a priority to get that continuity plan in place!).
- Have a communications plan. Make sure all of your employees and clients have updated their contact information so you know how to reach them. And let everybody know how they can reach you throughout the event and in its aftermath. If you’ve got a main phone number where you’ll be pushing out recorded messages with updates, make sure all your contacts are aware of that number and how often messages will be updated.
- Create “if/then” scenarios. If/then scenarios help manage both employee and customer expectations around when services or work will resume normal operations. For example, if one day after a hurricane makes landfall road conditions are safe, then clients can expect on-site visits within a week or as needed. Communicate these scenarios to anyone who is affected.
- Consider extending support hours. As long as it's safe to do so and you are capable of doing so, consider offering extra support before, during, and after a crisis. Your clients may have more concerns and questions than usual and could benefit from reaching you outside of normal hours. Not to mention, this is a powerful way to build up trust and loyalty amongst your clients.
What about data?
Business owners and their clients alike are probably going to be overly concerned about their servers, devices, and data as a hurricane approaches. This applies whether you’re working in a completely remote environment or in a hybrid of in-office and remote work.
It’s a good idea to have a standard procedure in place for how to secure devices and hardware before a storm hits. Living in Miami, we are threatened by at least one major hurricane each year, so in every place I’ve worked we’ve known what to do to cover our belongings. When the news warned of a hurricane on the way, we’d know the drill and be ready to go.
Make sure your employees know what they have to do (either at home or in the office) and offer advice to your clients for doing the same.
When it comes to backup and disaster recovery, take every opportunity you can as an MSP to shed light on how a BDR tool, like ConnectWise BCDR (formerly Recover), can be a game-changer in the event of a hurricane or other natural disaster. Without living through any major event, it may be hard for your clients to imagine why they would need to invest in a BDR tool. But, hit them with the truth. Remember, after Andrew we were without power for 17 days. If that happened to your client, everything they’ve worked so hard for could be lost. But a BDR can paint a vastly more optimistic picture as far as restoration efforts are concerned.
Finally, if your clients are still using hosted or on-premise servers, now may be a good time to discuss the advantages of switching to the cloud. Especially as remote environments become the norm, there’s no real reason to have your important data centers on-premise. It’s costly and risky. And for those clients who operate in natural-disaster-prone zones, there’s an even bigger argument to be made for cloud services.
There are other intricacies that go into disaster preparedness, such as ensuring your cybersecurity services are up to par, but the tips outlined in this post are a good place to start especially if you are in a pinch.
Hurricanes are scary and nerve wracking, but they certainly don’t have to upend your business. A little preparation and the right tech stack can go a long way.