The arrival of spring means storms, and storms mean generator and power equipment sales. But you can't make those sales and be a go-to resource for your rural lifestyle customers if that same storm knocks you out of business.

Statistics show that more than 43% of businesses won't reopen their doors after a disaster, says Scott Owens, managing director of BluTinuity, LLC, a disaster planning and management consulting company. And, for those that do reopen, 29% will fail within two years.

Weather-related disasters are just one kind of event that can hurt your business. You could face a fire, loss of data or an employee safety incident. Preparing for disaster is something that should have been done yesterday and always gets put off until tomorrow.

"Organizations are faced with the scary proposition of 'Where do I start?' It's almost a paralyzing thought," says Owens.

Don't get so bogged down with the mechanics that you never start preparing. These questions can help you analyze risks and provide a framework for planning.

1. What is most important to my dealership? 
Think through the effects of not having access to your team, computers, telecommunications, records, supply chain, etc.

2. How will my dealership be affected?
Think about risks in real terms, like what losing sales for a month would mean for your dealership.

3. What kind of data backup do I have?

Owens says businesses should back up data daily and that backup should be stored at least 25 miles away. An online-based storage option might be a solution.

4. How will I communicate with my employees, customers and others? 
Think about how you would communicate if phones lines were down. Consider social media, for instance, or even emergency walkie-talkies.

5. How will I conduct business while we recover?
Document your processes. Cross train employees. Keep a list of tools and equipment and how you would replace them. Plan for emergency power. Make sure you have enough insurance.

6. Does my plan work?
Test and test again.

There are many resources to help you formalize your plan., a partnership between the Small Business Administration and disaster planning and recovery company Agility Recovery, has templates for identifying critical business functions, risk assessment, emergency communications and more.

Set aside some time for free disaster preparedness webinars through The site has an upcoming April 9 webinar on "Social Media and Disaster Recovery" and another on May 21 called "Protect Your Business This Hurricane Season." Here's a link to the complete schedule,

Talk to your partners, such as your manufacturers or banker, and see if they have resources or know of another local business you could consult with.

Don't become a disaster statistic. Do something, anything, today to make sure you stay in business after a disaster.


Lynn Woolf,
Managing Editor
Rural Lifestyle Dealer