Preparing Your Cleaning Business for a Disaster

Jan 16 17:39 2007 Steve Hanson Print This Article

You spend years building up a successful cleaning business. And, unfortunately, in just a matter of minutes it can be wiped out by a disaster - fires, floods, tornadoes, hurricanes, and chemical spills are just a few of the things that can wipe out your business in a matter of minutes. How you prepare ahead of time can determine if your business succeeds or fails after a disaster happens.

Bad things can happen to your business -- fires,Guest Posting floods, tornadoes and hurricanes, are just a few of the many disasters that can wipe out your cleaning business in just a matter of minutes. You have spent years building up a successful cleaning business; don't let failure to plan for the worst ruin it. Although no one wants to think about it, planning ahead can keep your business from going under after a tragic event. Many businesses never recover from misfortune: the Small Business Administration (SBA) reported that in 2006 up to 25 percent of businesses did not reopen after a natural disaster.

Proper planning can also get your business up and running faster or keep your business going when others in your area are still trying to get back on their feet. The Red Cross and FEMA encourage all businesses to create a disaster plan. Even if you don't have time to sit down and write out a full-blown plan for your cleaning business, begin developing your plan by starting with the following:

1. Create a list of phone numbers of your key employees and customers and keep it with you. Also provide a copy of that list to key staff members.

2. Back up your computer data often and keep an updated record of that information off-site. If you keep paper records, be sure to make copies of important documents and store those in another building.

3. Make a comprehensive list of your equipment, including the price, date purchased, model number, and serial number. Keep this updated as you buy new equipment and keep a copy of this off-site. It's also a good idea to photograph or videotape your office, equipment, and supplies so you have a visual record for insurance and replacement purposes.

4. Consult with your insurance agent and make sure you have enough coverage. Remember, most policies do not cover flood or earthquake damage. Your insurance needs to cover more than just your building. Insurance has to also cover the replacement cost of your supplies and equipment. Make sure your equipment (both cleaning and office equipment) is covered. Most insurance companies offer Inland Marine insurance. This will cover any equipment you don't store on your property.

Keep in mind you will also be replacing more than just cleaning equipment, but also office equipment and supplies. It may be necessary to rent items temporarily until you have the insurance check. So it's also important to have enough money on hand to rent the necessary equipment.

Some of the things you might be renting include:

  • office space
  • office furniture
  • computers and printers
  • phones and accessories
  • cleaning equipment (buffers, vacuums, mop buckets, etc.)

Your policy should include some type of business interruption insurance - think of the possible situations and then decide if you need one or more months of coverage.

5. Prepare an action plan so if a disaster does happen you don't panic. Who will call your cleaning customers to let them know you are running behind schedule? If a natural disaster hits a large area your customers will also be scrambling to get on their feet. However, if your business experiences a fire or other incident that only affects you, it is important to keep the lines of communication open with your customers. If you can't get up and running in a hurry, they may have to find another cleaning company to take care of their buildings.

6. Make note of where you can quickly get replacement supplies and equipment. Is there a janitorial supplies distributor in your community that will have what you need to get up and running? Also, make note of office supply stores in your area so you can replace your office equipment.

7. Another necessity is having an emergency fund so you can quickly replace equipment before you get your insurance check. Think of saving 3-6 months of business income.

You've no doubt spent years building up a successful cleaning business. Don't let it be destroyed in just a few minutes by an unforeseen disaster. Taking the time to prepare now before something happens can assure that your cleaning business can keep going after a tragedy.

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About Article Author

Steve Hanson
Steve Hanson

Steve Hanson is co-founding member of The Janitorial Store (TM), an online community that offers weekly tips, articles, downloads, discussion forums, and more for anyone who would like to learn how to start a cleaning business. Visit The Janitorial Store's blog and get inspired by reading cleaning success stories from owners of cleaning companies.

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