Hurricanes can be devastating to your restaurant, especially if you’re not prepared. While a storm can hurt the bottom line in terms of lost business, factors like property damage, repairs and lost inventory can take their toll. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Centers for Environmental Information, hurricanes and tropical storms have tallied more than $430 billion in damages from 2008-2018.
Being ready can significantly reduce the amount of damage to your establishment. The tips below are how to prepare your restaurant for the heart of hurricane season.
Have the Right Insurance
Insurance is essential in many walks of life, and it shouldn’t be overlooked when protecting a business. If your restaurant is in an area prone to hurricanes and other natural disasters, having the proper policy is crucial. In an article for QSR.com Emily Lazration from CoverWallet wrote that restaurant owners should consider these three natural disaster policies:
- Commercial Property insurance – As the name implies, this type of coverage manages the loss or damage of physical business assets including pieces of equipment, furniture, and office property or buildings caused by a natural disaster such as a hurricane. Bear in mind that it does not provide coverage for company vehicles or flood damage. You may want to purchase Commercial Auto insurance for that.
- Commercial Flood insurance – This type of insurance protects the restaurant against substantial financial losses due to damages as a result of flooding. It protects physical business assets such as pieces of equipment, tools, furniture, records, and merchandise from floodwater damages. If your business is located in a flood-prone area, consider purchasing Commercial Flood insurance to avoid shelling out a considerable amount of money in case the restaurant gets affected by a hurricane. Remember you need to have this specific type of policy to be protected from flood damage, other insurance policies will not cover flood damage.
- Business Interruption insurance – Restaurants rely heavily on day-to-day operations. But what if a disaster strikes and you need to close the business temporarily? This can mean huge financial losses. You can avoid this from happening by carrying Business Interruption insurance. This coverage will pay for the estimated lost revenue if a hurricane or any natural disaster forces a restaurant to stop operating. Even retailers and wholesalers can benefit from having this type of insurance.
Come Up with a Response & Recovery Plan
Response and recovery plans are very common when preparing for a hurricane. Create a checklist that your restaurant can follow when a storm is on the horizon. The list should include the following:
- Emergency phone numbers – In addition to managers or corporate headquarters, this should include phone numbers for local police, fire department, state and federal agencies and disaster relief organizations.
- Pre-hurricane procedures – Procedure before the storm should include boarding up windows, clearing gutters, shutting off gas supplies, moving tables and loose items to a secure location and storing refrigerated ingredients in coolers with dry ice.
- Post-hurricane procedures – Recovery is key to getting your business back up and running. Discard any food or ingredients that may have spoiled due to high temperature or humidity. You should also throw out any food or kitchen utensils that came into contact with standing water from flooding. Make sure to inspect your facility for damage, especially to commercial kitchen equipment.
Get Your Property Ready
Aside from a good response plan, having your property prepared beforehand also can save you a lot of time and headaches. Prior to the season, stock up on materials like 5/8″ plywood and sandbags. Since winds can get close to 130 mph during a Category 3 hurricane, plywood comes in handy for boarding up windows, especially if your establishment doesn’t have adequate storm shutters. If your restaurant is in or near a floodplain, sandbags can help reduce heavy flooding in your building during hurricanes and severe storms. Sandbags might not completely stop water damage, but they still can keep significant amounts of water from seeping through doorways, roller doors and drains.
There are ways to prepare your property. Make sure to purchase a powerful backup generator. Whether it’s gas or electric, a good generator can provide power to everything from small refrigeration equipment to chargers during and after the storm. Also, have waterproof storage compartments to help protect valuable documents, keycards and other items that can’t afford to be damaged by water.