Protect yourself – Think Business Continuity Planning for your brokerage
If disaster struck tomorrow, would your business survive? How would you contact clients and lenders? Could you continue to generate sales and future business? For many small to medium-sized brokerages, a sudden and unexpected interruption in operations could be harmful. It’s the responsibility of every business to stay ahead of the risks and potential crises.
A business continuity plan, or BCP, is essential for all businesses from a sole proprietorship to a large corporation. We recommend visiting the Calgary Emergency Management Agency (CEMA) website to help prepare your business for an emergency. CEMA has a Business Continuity Handbook, Business Continuity Template and supporting Reference Guide to help you walk through the entire process of business continuity planning.
Start protecting your business from a possible natural disaster, operational failure, illness or actions of another person. Our quick tips below will help get you on the right track.
Consider the unthinkable.
Brainstorm scenarios that could impact the day-to-day operations of your business or prevent it from running smoothly for any length of time such as power outages, fires, snowstorms, floods, disconnected Wi-Fi access, etc. Consider all the ways you could prevent or respond to them, and draft some initial statements and key messages you would share with key stakeholders.
Put together a BCP team and meet regularly.
Whether you have one, five, 20 or 100 employees, identify the key people who know your business the best. Getting a team of knowledgeable staff together regularly is the best way to brainstorm crises, strategize, assign roles, find solutions and make a plan. Choose a senior team member to act as a spokesperson for the group – someone willing and able to speak publicly in the case of an emergency.
Set up communication systems for internal and external stakeholders/audiences.
Technology makes communication easy – phone, texts, emails or social media. Have an updated employee list including emergency contact information. Prepare an email distribution list, phone call tree and/or text notification service to ensure all employees are safe and informed of their role during an emergency. Also, consider how you would inform and update external audiences such as customers, lenders, suppliers, sponsors and neighbours.
Communicate quickly and often.
If disaster does strike, stay in constant communication with key stakeholders as often as possible. Explain how and when you will update them next. Even if nothing has changed, let them know. Talk about the situation, how it’s being resolved and what they need to know.
Wash, rinse, repeat.
Most disasters and emergencies are unexpected. Once you have a BCP, you need to train employees, test the plan, hold drills and refine the process. Gaps, challenges and missed opportunities are found during regular evaluation.
Good luck creating your BCP. It’s important to stay prepared for any unexpected events that could disrupt your brokerage.