5 Reasons Why You Should Create an Emergency Response Program for Your Business The only way to successfully avoid permanent damage to your business is by making extensive preparations well in advance.

By Pritom Das

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

When most people think about running a business, what comes to mind is managing the day-to-day administrative and operational tasks of providing products or services to customers. While it's true that optimizing those aspects will typically be the biggest determinant of whether a business succeeds or fails, preparing for emergency incidents and handling them effectively is another aspect that, although infrequent, can make or break a business within a short period.

Emergencies are just that — unexpected and sudden. That means that it's very difficult to prepare and execute a response on short notice. Solving the problem will be a function of how much long-term preparation you have done in advance. That is why all businesses must initiate a comprehensive emergency response program. Here are a few reasons why you should do just that.

1. You reduce downtime and stay in business

According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), almost 40% of small businesses do not reopen after experiencing a disaster. This statistic is the number one reason that every business should have some plan for an emergency to avoid a similar fate. There are a variety of ways that an emergency response plan (ERP) can reduce downtime for a business. Whether it's employees or contractors being able to quickly identify and shut off the main water valve or having access to contractors by being a part of a preferred vendor program, the theme here is quick and decisive action. When there is a plan in place, it gives a business the best odds possible of limiting downtime and getting back to regular operations.

2. You educate employees

As a business is creating its ERP, it will immediately reap the benefits of having educated employees. The employees of a business who are involved with the planning of an ERP will find themselves learning the basics about responding to an emergency, the importance of it and what their role is if a disaster was to occur. While catastrophes are somewhat rare, a business may experience smaller isolated events where this education and planning will pay great dividends.

Related: What to Do If You've Lost Your Job Because of COVID-19

3. You can identify preferred vendors

A key aspect of an ERP is identifying the partners that will help restore a business to regular operations. Having a list of various outside contractors with whom the business already has relationships will help to get service as fast as possible. Certain companies assist businesses in creating an ERP in exchange for becoming a preferred vendor. Unless you have been a part of a catastrophic event, you have no idea the volume of calls that service providers receive. Creating a relationship with these vendors is extremely important.

4. You have a centralized location for important documents

What happens if you can't access important documents or they are destroyed by a disaster? This is a serious question that every business owner should ask themselves, yet many never have. Having one location to keep digital copies of important documents is a very important aspect of an ERP. It isn't likely that you can have every file uploaded but at the very least blueprints, insurance info and fire safety system documents are some must-haves. These documents ensure responders are well informed before they walk into a building and allow a business to give direction without having to step onto what is often an unsafe property. It can also be a great place to have reminders for renewals to make sure there are no lapses in coverage.

Related: Why Digital Transformation Is An Effective Crisis Response

5. You improve safety and insurance benefits

While there are other benefits of an ERP, the final reason we will give is that creating one will make any work environment a safer place. Knowing that you and your employees are as safe as possible is a benefit itself but when it comes time for insurance renewal, your insurance carrier should also take notice. Most carriers will ask you for a general safety plan for discounts but surprisingly will not ask for an ERP. Presenting one without it being requested when asked for safety programs will surely impress any insurance carrier.

Now that you have five reasons to create an ERP, you may be wondering how to make the best one possible. If you make your way over to Ready.gov you can find some great information about how to go about this. At the end of the day, you don't need an ERP — until you need one. If that day ever comes, that little bit of extra preparation and planning can save a business.

Related: How to Continue Collaboration When a Disaster Occurs

Pritom Das

Entrepreneur Leadership Network® Contributor

Founder/CEO of TravelerPlus

Pritom Das is a tech entrepreneur, business development consultant and freelance writer. He is the founder of travel-based networking site TravelerPlus.

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