3 Ways Restaurants Can Prepare for Hurricanes
When it comes to hurricanes in Florida, being prepared is the name of the game. Whether it's a beachfront home or a personal business inland, everyone needs to know the powerful potential each named storm can bring. This is no different in the restaurant industry.
Because profit margins are so slim in foodservice, it's probably even more important for restaurants and other types of operations to be prepared. Just a single day of shuttered doors and windows can lead to decreased sales, so knowing your options is important.
No matter which corner of Florida, it's critical to think about hurricanes in these three ways:
START PREPARING WELL IN ADVANCE.
In fact, start your preparations when it's not even hurricane season, and do it annually. This means reviewing your restaurant's insurance to make sure you understand what is covered and how the policy works.
"Make sure you review your insurance policies and have business interruption insurance," says Andre Duart, president of CDR Maguire's Emergency Management Division, a disaster recovery firm that manages several counties throughout Florida and helped recovery efforts after hurricanes Wilma, Irma, and Michael to name a few. "True preparedness begins well in advance of the storm."
When restaurants cannot open, they lose business, and there are insurance policies that can help with business interruption. With insurance comes documentation, of course, so review your policies every year, know what's covered, and film or photograph all of your important equipment in case you need records of it later.
Having a plan is also critical. After a storm, employees are often busy helping their own families recover, so many staff members may not be able to come to work. Discuss a plan well in advance about who can come in to help with staffing.
Also remember electricity will likely be out. Plan for that. If it means buying a generator, make sure you have one before the lines form at your local hardware store as the storm approaches. Without power, your computers, cash registers, and POS systems won't work either. Decide early how you're planning to accept payment, whether it be cash or an old school credit card machine, if you don't use a generator.
FINALIZE PLANS AS THE STORM APPROACHES.
Now that you know you're in the bullseye, the first thing to do is ensure everyone's safety. Make sure employees all have safe places to go, and if you developed a post-storm staffing plan, finalize it now.
In many cases, liquor, wine, and beer are not insured items, so consider moving those to higher locations within your facility. If they can be stored on a second floor or out of the reach of potential flood waters, those are the ideal locations. Also consider documenting some of the pass-through items you have on hand such as food inventory and ingredients.
DON'T FORGET THE IMPORTANCE OF POST-STORM RECOVERY.
There's a mission in the emergency management business to be there after the cameras have all gone home. Restaurants and other local businesses are a huge part of this effort. When the hurricane that just hit your restaurant is no longer top news in California, that's when the real recovery efforts can often begin.
The bottom line is restaurants are part of the community. They're part of the fabric of everyday life that residents are used to, so the quicker your restaurant or foodservice operation comes back online, you won't just be doing good by your business, you'll also be helping the community. It's also an opportunity.
Imagine how people would feel about your restaurant if you took all the food out of your walk-in that is going bad, wheeled a propane grill out into the parking lot because the power is out, and started cooking for first responders and passers-by who might be hungry and are looking for food. That's not to mention the potential write-off potential of those ingredients. The bottom line is restaurants are a large part of a community's pulse.
"One of the biggest impacts to a community is those small businesses and restaurants going under," Duart says. "They're critical for the community at large in terms of the overall recovery."
Finally, don't forget about public assistance funding that can be available. There are resources restaurants can look to for help once FEMA starts to get involved.
"One of the first things you should do is reach out to the Small Business Association to discuss loans," Duart said.
We hope you find these tips to be helpful as we enter the heart of hurricane season. To learn more about foodservice equipment and how it might be impacted by potential storms, schedule an assessment with Eaton Marketing today.