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It’s Time to Prepare for Hurricane Season

Hurricane season will be here soon. Even if your dealership isn’t in a hurricane-prone area, here are steps that are just as useful for preparing for wildfires, tornados and other disasters to protect your assets and minimize financial losses.

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Hurricane season started June 1, and The Weather Channel recently released its hurricane outlook. While the season is expected to be less active than the 2018 season, that doesn’t mean it won’t still be dangerous. Is your dealership ready?

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Use the tips below to prepare. Even if your dealership isn’t in a hurricane-prone area, these recommendations are just as useful for preparing for wildfires, tornados and other disasters.

Designate a Disaster Preparedness Team

In a high-pressure scenario, it’s important to have not only a plan but someone to take charge of executing that plan. Designate a few trusted employees to form a disaster preparedness team. Good candidates include an IT person, a manager and an HR representative. This group of people will be responsible for:

  • Documenting a recovery plan that outlines the roles of employees during a disaster
  • Compiling a list of emergency service contacts (utilities, phones, sanitation, etc.)
  • Procuring any necessary disaster recovery equipment or vendors
  • Assembling and checking first aid kits and other emergency supplies (water, cleaning supplies, flashlights, etc.)

During a disaster, this team will oversee the execution of the plan and answer any questions employees might have.

Protect Your Assets

You’re more likely to minimize financial losses if you take steps to protect your assets, including data, vehicle inventory, keys and tools. Your plan should include the following steps:

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  • Preserve your data. If your dealership is running on paper-based processes, have a safe location to store all documents and filing cabinets. Make copies of records and store them in a physically secure facility. Back up any electronic files.
  • Keep your keys in a safe location and make sure all keys are accounted for at the end of each day in case you have to unexpectedly shut your doors (in fact, this is a best practice you should follow year-round). If you use a key management system, regularly run system backups and export or print a map of the system contents in case of a power outage.
  • Secure your inventory. Some dealerships have gotten creative by moving vehicles into the showroom or loading them into the service bay. While these strategies might not be feasible for your dealership, especially if space is a challenge, you can and should brainstorm solutions that’ll work for you.

These steps are a good start to protecting your assets, but every dealership is different. You might have assets not mentioned here, or you might have multiple locations that require a more complicated strategy. What matters is that you plan ahead.

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Consider Your Employees

The most important thing to remember about disaster preparedness is that without employees, you don’t have a business. It’s important that you consider your staff throughout every step of the process, from planning to execution. Here are some specific ways to do that:

  • Interview key employees about the processes and resources that are critical to their job.
  • Educate employees on the plan and their roles during a disaster.
  • When making decisions during a disaster, prioritize employee safety.

When you demonstrate that you care about employees’ needs, they’re more likely to buy into the plan and put forth their best effort in protecting your business.

Don’t let predictions for a less active hurricane season lull you into a sense of false security — unexpected disasters of all kinds can strike at any time. However, a little advance planning can have a huge impact on your bottom line.

Steve Robinson

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