Steps to Take if You and Your Business are Victims of a Fire
No matter the severity of damages, a fire is a chaotic occurrence for any business owner. In addition to loss, every hour spent restoring your business is an hour of lost revenue and productivity. Once the fire has ceased and the site has been cleared, follow these steps to promptly restore order, productivity and profitability of your business.
Account for Everyone Affected
The safety of your employees and patrons is of the most importance. Be sure all of your employees and guests are accounted for proceeding the incident. Check guest sign-in sheets or logs if you use them or surveillance cameras to ensure that everyone is accounted for. Once accounted for, retrieve contact information so that you are able to get in touch with anyone affected by the fire. This may also include board members, external partners and customers. Don’t leave your staff and business partners in the dark regarding the future of your company. Any activities or services that need to be postponed or suspended should be clearly communicated and announced. Communication is key to help keep your staff calm and alerted.
Contact your Insurance Company
Promptly contact your insurance agent to report the incident, damages and loss. The quicker you report the incident the quicker the rebuilding and reimbursement processes may begin. If you happen to rent or lease your space, don’t forget to contact your property owner or manager.
Once the fire has ceased and you’ve accounted for everyone who may have been affected, survey your property for damages and take photos. Avoid costly mistakes and easily fetch important facts and numbers by documenting and organizing all records. Maintain phone call logs to include times and reasons for each contact. Keep all receipts to document any expenses paid for during your business’s recovery period. Insurance companies will require proof of claimed losses, so have pertinent documentation (receipts, user manuals, credit card statements, photos, etc.) easily accessible.
Recover Critical Data Servers: hard drives and computers that hold data critical to the day-to-day operations of your business. If damaged, you run the risk of losing data as well as exposing employee and customer information. Depending on your exact case, take the necessary steps needed to recover any sensitive data.
Safeguard Your Property
Once the property has been cleared by professionals, collect and remove salvageable valuables, paperwork and data devices. As a business owner, you are responsible for mitigating damages. If the fire has caused significant damage to the structure of the building (exterior walls, doors, windows or the roof) safeguard the premises. Temporarily patch any holes, pitch tarps or make arrangements to have the building boarded up to prevent further damage, vandalism and leaks. Remember to keep all receipts of expenses for reimbursement.
Proceed With Caution
It will be tempting get your business up and running as quickly as possible following the incident, but it is important to be patient and not to rush into any repairs. Contact experienced professionals to assist in the assessment of damages as they will have the knowledge, technology and resources needed to restore your space promptly and properly.
While any disaster to your business, big or small, can be worrisome - know that you have access to the resources to restore your business. Of US based businesses, about 60% have been able to reopen their doors after a disastrous fire and many have gone on to achieve great success and profitability. Above all, it is important to be smart and remain hopeful.