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Being Ready When Disaster Strikes

Home improvement stores are often one of the first places people go to prepare for and recover from a natural disaster. Retailers who want to provide a service to their customers should make careful note to stock up on emergency and repair supplies ahead of peak seasons, such as before hurricane or spring flooding seasons. It’s also a good idea to remind customers to be prepared. But it’s also a good idea for the retailers to be prepared so they’re ready if a disaster would strike the store. Here are a few tips for creating and maintaining a disaster plan for a retail business.

Identify threats. There are several different types of disasters that could befall a business. There are the common ones everyone tends to think about—fire, flood and hurricane—but there are others that could strike as well, such as workplace violence, chemical spills or a computer virus. Retailers who want to be prepared should assess the threat level posed by each possible disaster and decide which of them warrant having a disaster plan.

Use off-site storage. Cloud storage systems have made it easier to back up electronic files, but there may still be a need to back up files in other ways. It’s critical to keep important documents, such as insurance information and contact lists, in safe areas where they can be easily accessed if the store were to be destroyed.

Involve employees. All employees should be trained and kept up to date on the store’s emergency plan. If a disaster were to happen during store open hours, all employees should know how to safely help customers out of the store as well as protect themselves. Make sure all employees understand their roles during an emergency.

Communicate. Have a pre-established plan for communication during and after a disaster. Have a contact list for all employees and keep it up to date.

About Jesse Carleton

Jesse Carleton has visited independent hardware retailers, conducted original research on the industry and written extensively about the business of hardware retailing. Jesse has written for more than a dozen of NHPA’s contract publishing titles, all related to the hardware retailing industry. He also was instrumental in developing the Basic Training in Hardware Retailing courses now used by thousands of retailers across the country.

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