I am writing this a few days after Hurricane Irene disappeared into a “depression”. We experienced Irene as a Tropical Storm while staying on the water’s edge in beautiful Prince Edward Island.  You can only image how Anne of Green Gables would have written about the howling wind and driving rain that occurred on the island for a couple of days.

We were fortunate when it came to Irene. We knew the hurricane was coming and had time to plan and prepare. After going through Hurricane Juan a few years ago we don’t take these warnings lightly anymore.

Knowing there was a good possibility we would lose power and maybe even water we took preventive measures and charged our cell phones and laptops. We made sure we had flashlights and batteries and knew where they were. We filled bottles with water and put away anything outside that could possibly “take flight”.

The storm came and  thankfully did not do a lot of damage here in Nova Scotia or PEI. In the grand scheme of things, losing power is just an inconvenience especially if you are  prepared.

Fortunately hurricanes don’t happen very often (at least not in eastern Canada) and when they do we usually have plenty of warning. But in our businesses we’re not always that lucky. Emergencies tend to crop up all the time.

In our business emergencies usually are good news. It means work for us, our crews and sub-trades. Or it allows us to show off our service levels to a new insurance company who is sending us their first claim to “see how we do”.

Other times the emergency is bad news. You find yourself up against a deadline on a project you are working on, or you forgot to write a job on the “Job Board” that has to be done this morning and other Project Managers on your team have everyone booked solid for the whole day. Or you promised to get an Indoor Air quality test done today and you forgot to call your Industrial Hygenist. Or your newsletter is due out tomorrow and you still haven’t gotten the article written. You know the story, right?

Listen, running your business from emergency to emergency is exhausting, and it is not necessary. We, of all people, should have plans for dealing with the unexpected.

If these types of things are happening again and again are they really emergencies or are they “situations” that occur regularly. If so, you should have yourself prepared for these situations?

Here are three areas you should look at to help you prepare so that you and your business and life will run smoother and at the same time allow you to give better customer service to the ones who have true emergencies.

  • Think about your day-to-day schedule. What types of “emergencies” often strike? Sure the specific situation might be unexpected, but there are a lot of similarities between these events. Pay specific attention to when you find yourself saying “Oh NO! Why does this keep happening?” What can you do to prepare? What tools can you put at your disposal so that your business keeps going?
  • Look at the things you do often. What can you automate or create a system for so that these situations become barely a ripple. Create an “info package” for new loss clients. This will make sure they have the proper information about what is going to happen in this claims process and at the same time make it easy and consistent to deliver. Create a package of material on the various types of losses you do so that you can quickly give it to anyone who needs it.
  • What type of true emergency systems can you put in place? If you were called away from your business suddenly do you have a team that can cover for you? What parts of the claims process can you “automate”? Who can you delegate your files to? What if you lost power or your computer’s hard drive crashed or lost your cell phone?  (hey, if anyone should be prepared for this scenario it should be us!) Is your computer backed up and do you back it up regularly? Do you charge your phone regularly? Would you have your important phone numbers available?

Here is the bottom line. There will certainly be true emergencies that force you to stop everything and focus our attention elsewhere, and you’ll never be able to avoid them all. The key is to do as much as you can to minimize the interruption that they cause.

Would you do me and more importantly yourself a favor? Today, make a list of what you can do to minimize the impact of emergencies in your business?

It would be fantastic if you would share that list with me here on my blog.