MINIMAL DISASTER PLANNING
If you are thinking that your store is located in the center of the nation far from the chance of hurricanes and there are no known fault lines for you to worry about, please do not think these articles do not apply to you. Tornadoes have happened on every continent and in every state. New fault lines are discovered. And, who can predict acts of aggression? Plan now what you will do to carry on "business-as-usual" or to safely evacuate your store and what will determine which you will do.
If you are in a mall does the mall or leasing company have a policy concerning loss of power or disaster that affects the surrounding area? Is business continuance up to the store owner? If commerce is not permitted, are you required to clear the store immediately? How will you do that? Who is going to search for staff and customers and how will they leave the store?
If you continue "business as usual," how will you do it? Will you accept credit cards? Debit cards? Checks? Who has a key to open the cash registers manually? Will all registers remain open or just a register at the main store entrance/exit? Contact your bank card processor now to learn what their requirements are for manual processing. You may need a credit card imprint machine. Manual processing of credit transactions usually costs more. Are you willing to pay the higher processing fees? Does your store have a land phone line? What is your procedure for reimbursing your employees for personal cell phone minutes used for the store's business if the store's phone system fails?
Do you know the procedures your bank requires for manual processing of checks? In Texas, a record of a customer's id (Driver's License or other photo ID) is required for the contract between check writer and business to be complete. Check with your banker to be sure your procedures are the most efficient for all involved.
Do you have 2-part, pre-numbered sales ticket books? Do your employees know how to complete a manual sales ticket? Do you have calculators for everyone? Do you and your employees know the current sales tax rate for your area and how to calculate it?
Who will enter the sales into the computer system when power is restored? If your sales are recorded at the SKU level, are the numbers printed on the merchandise tag legible so that they can be entered on the hand-written sales ticket? Do your employees know what to record?
* Your local police and firefighters. Always have direct local numbers for both police and firefighters included in your emergency numbers. In a disaster, 911 lines may become over used and the system may crash. Try the direct local numbers for immediate help if the 911 system is busy.
Keep this information as a packet in multiple places so you can find it. Keep one such packet in your safety deposit box with your back-up discs and at least one other packet in a fireproof, water proof portable container. Zip-Lock bags are good to use as an extra measure of protection against water damage.
Emergency supplies to have on hand (recommended by the US Government at ready.gov)
Do not re-write over reusable discs. Spend the extra money to use system back up discs one time only. Set a particular day to back up and do it. Then put the backups in a safe off-site storage such as a safety deposit box. If you always back up every Monday, for example, you may lose a week's worth of transactions, but not 50 weeks. It's worth the time it takes especially if you later need it. Replace back up media at least every other year. Always keep the last 2 backups stored off-site. And don't forget any other computers in the store. Make sure customer data is also backed up. It's just good common sense.