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To avoid you having to count the cost of flooding, here are some steps to prevent future problems.

The impact of flooding can be particularly devastating for businesses across all industries due to loss of revenue, damaged stock and ruined equipment.

The cost of repairs can often run into six-figure sums, if not more, so it’s vital that organisations are prepared for the worst.

To avoid you having to count the cost of flooding, here is some advice on what steps to take to prevent future problems.

1. Don’t let optimism cloud your judgement

Many businesses assume that they won’t be affected by floods, either due to the organization not being located in a floodplain or simply because they haven’t considered the issue. Flooding has the potential to disrupt a business for months, so it is important to plan for the worst-case scenario.

2. Plan for the worst case scenario

When it comes to flooding, don’t assume that it is simply your own premises that would be affected, or that damage would be minimal. Most businesses are reliant on their supply chain, so if one of your suppliers were hit by flooding, would this disrupt your ability to deliver products/services to customers on time?

Industries like tourism and hospitality are often the hardest hit by issues like flooding, so it’s important to consider whether demand for your product/service would drop off if your clients or the areas surrounding your business were affected and whether this could be in any way mitigated.

3. Manage the situation before it happens

Don’t wait until your business is actually affected by flooding to start thinking about it.
Find out whether your business is in or near a floodplain to assess the likelihood of problems and if so, consider whether a change of location may be appropriate.

Set up a crisis management team to assess the ways in which you could potentially be affected and formulate backup plans should the worst happen.

If your business is office-based, you may want to consider paying for a business continuity service. There are now services designed for specifically for SMEs that can offer a package of cloud-based IT backup and office space in the event of a problem.

4. Protect your critical activities

It’s important to consider whether your most critical activities could continue as normal in the event of flooding. Would some activities need to be stopped to allow you focus your resources on what is critical? Would you need to hire alternative workspace or could staff work from home or other unaffected premises? If your IT isn’t cloud-based, consider whether you should switch to facilitate business continuity.

5. Protect your supply chain

It is easy to overlook the importance of suppliers to a business’s ability to function, and how some are more important than others. Whether it’s A4 paper or product components, most businesses keep a limited amount of stock on site in the event of supplier delays, but these could be rendered useless in the event of flooding. Utilities like electricity, gas, water supply, and telecoms are also often affected by flooding and can render a premise unusable for weeks. Assess which of your suppliers are business-critical, whether you could find another quickly, within what sort of timescale, and the how this would impact upon you.

6. Monitor developments

In the event of flooding, it is important to stay abreast of how the area is affected, so you are aware of road closures and localized flooding that may affect suppliers/staff. Use your local radio stations for weather and flooding updates, or go online to the government’s flood warning information service website and the Met Office’s severe weather warnings page.

If your business is situated in an area that is likely to experience problems, sign up for email alerts to get advanced notice of any new weather warnings.

7. Contact your insurers

If your business premises are flooded it is important to contact your insurers as soon as possible. This is for two good reasons, one to get an immediate indication of what help they will offer in the short and longer term, and two, they will probably be very busy.

8. Communicate

Whilst you may be keen not to flag up problems to customers, suggesting that it is “business as usual”, when your ability to deliver the same quality of service may be compromised, may do more harm than good in the long-term. Notify all relevant parties (i.e. your customers, staff and suppliers) that you have been affected by flooding and give regular updates as to what this means for them and when you expect the situation to be rectified.

You should also contact your local council’s emergency planning officer and inform them of any changes you need to make. They may also be able to offer you advice about funding or entitlement to business rates relief.

9. Consider your staff

If flooding is widespread, it is likely that your staff will be affected by flooding too. This could mean transport difficulties, with road/rail closures making it difficult to get to work or that employee’s own homes are affected, so it is important to be as understanding and as flexible as possible. If your business has more than one site, it’s important to consider how inter-dependent they all are, and how each might be affected by site closures or staff being unavailable.

10. Relocation

Whilst relocating premises temporarily may seem expensive, many businesses expect to be back up and running before is reasonably practical, and as a consequence find that their customers lose patience with them.

Some of the business continuity services on the market offer temporary office space as part of their package, so contact your provider to discuss whether it would be appropriate to invoke work area recovery agreements.