Cox Business and Inside Business held their Cox Executive Discussion Series breakfast on June 17 at the Crowne Plaza in Hampton on the topic of damage control - don’t be caught with your guard down. A panel of four experts shared personal experiences and why business continuity is extremely important. The moderator for this executive session was Cathy Lewis, Host/Executive Editor of WHRO.
The panelists included: Jim Carroll, Executive Director of the Small Business Development Center and Vice President of Small Business of the Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce; Raymond F. Smith CBCP, PMP, Security+ Business Continuity Analyst and Records Manager, Navy Exchange Service Command; Hui-Shan Walker, CEM, CF Emergency Management Coordinator, City of Hampton; and Ming Yao Director for Crisis Management and Business Continuity, Cox Enterprises, Inc.
Jim Carroll spoke about downtown Franklin and its devastation by hurricane Floyd in 1999. Carroll posed the questions, “If you were a small business owner what do you do?” “How do you recover?” Carroll explained. “It is challenging to put together a recovery plan when you have to start at zero.” The International Paper Mill closing in 2010 was another disaster. The city lost six of its top 10 employers because the other five had been closed or subcontracted causing unemployment and bankruptcies. Carroll said, “As a small business owner, if you don’t have a continuity plan, something written down - if this happens, here is fallback solution - you’re going to be out of luck because all you’re going to be doing is ad-hocking it - just reacting instead of driving the situation.”
The panel answered audience questions. The panelist advised businesses of disasters that need to be addressed in their continuity plans.
Weather: Snow, ice storms, hurricanes, tornadoes. Do you have a plan? Most prominent around the Hampton Roads is flooding. Know if you are in a flood zone. Doesn’t have to be tidal flooding, it may be a heavy downfall or storm surge. Is your business in a flood zone? Be aware and make contingences.
Loss of a major employer: How would the business survive? An example of this is when the Ford plant shut down in Franklin.
Loss of power: Businesses could lose all data on computers. This would especially be detrimental to CPA’s and attorneys, or any business where information is the main product. Do you back up your data on a routine basis and where do you back it up?
Pandemic or work-force continuity: Not having employees able to work for whatever reason.
Nuclear or dirty bombs: People should know the difference because it is going to determine a different response.
Terrorism: There are a lot of military bases and CIA agencies all over this area which makes the Hampton Roads a target for terrorists. Does your business have a plan?
The role of social media in disaster/incident and recovery can be extremely beneficial. It’s another great communication tool if your business can actively use it. It’s another channel to put information out to the masses. Know your customer base. Businesses must however have a back-up plan because when the power goes out keep in mind that social media will go down too.
Business continuity is not just about the weather. It’s more than simply having a plan for when a disaster strikes. Businesses need to be sure their customers are served, employees are safe and business will continue strong no matter what occurs.