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Is Your Company Prepared for an Emergency?
Working remotely has become very popular in recent years
Many businesses allow employees to work remotely once or twice a week. Many businesses require everyone to be in the same location working together for specific reasons. A business that does not normally find it conducive to have people work remotely, should have an emergency plan in place for an unexpected event that makes it necessary.
We recently experienced this first hand — there was a storm in our area that was unexpected
Trees were hit by lightning and split, some were uprooted, branches snapped, and windows broken and blown out. Streets were blocked by fallen trees and branches and traffic lights were out, causing it to be difficult to get around. The building where our office is located in was hit hard. Windows were blown out, flooding the inside of many offices and the first floor had furniture overturned. The electricity was out and the building became dangerous to occupy, with broken glass in many offices. We fund businesses through invoice factoring, and our clients need to be funded weekly. We were lucky, only one office in our suite was destroyed, and it was on Sunday, which resulted in no one being injured. The office next to us was completely under water and all windows blown out, damaging equipment and files.
We had previously taken some time to come up with a plan for an emergency such as this, and, immediately put it into action
Everyone was familiar with the plan and we made some calls and everyone came together to assist in the emergency. We made arrangements to move to the location we had set up in advance. We took computers, servers, printers, files, banking necessities and everything we needed to make it easier to serve our clients doing business as usual. We transferred our phones to our remote office so we could answer calls and continue business as normal as possible. The move took place within about two hours. on Sunday afternoon, and Monday morning we were ready to go. We sent emails to our clients explaining our situation and updated them as the week progressed. We learned the importance of our emergency plan, which in the 40 years we have been in business, we had never had to implement. Our entire staff worked together patiently and as a team to make it a successful week, which would not have been the case had we not been prepared.
Emergency planning is important and following are some things to consider:
- Insurance –your office and equipment should be covered by insurance.
- The ability to move computers, servers and files and/or have laptops for employees.
- Have software available on the cloud, as well as client information.
- Keep a hard copy list of clients and contacts that can be easily reached.
- Have a location that is easily accessible and has wireless connections and phone capabilities. A good option is an office suite. They are usually furnished and have copiers and other office machines available.
- Have emergency numbers for employees so you can let them know about the situation if they are not at work on that day.
Prepare your business for emergencies by holding a meeting with your management staff
Consider all of the things that keep your business running smoothly, and list what is necessary on a daily basis. Consider documents such as client lists and employee lists that you may need to access quickly. Make copies or put these on flash drives and take them home with you so that you can access them if necessary. Have a plan to contact your employees and customers in the event of an emergency.
Management should hold a meeting and go over Disaster Recovery Plans usually provided by your office building management. It is a good idea to create your own Emergency Protocol and Disaster Recovery Plan and have both in writing in a binder easy to reach. Each employee should also be familiar with these plans. In the event of an emergency or disaster, it is important that everyone works together for a common goal. Knowledge is the key to everyone being able to do their job effectively and in a safe location.
Plans should include protecting office equipment, computers, servers, and items of importance when there is impending inclement weather that poses a threat. Protecting equipment and files can be as simple as purchasing heavy-duty bins with lids that can protect things temporarily or for an extended period, and are easy to move if necessary. Office equipment should be unplugged and, if possible, moved to a safe (interior) place in the office when inclement, damaging weather is possible.
Depending on your business, there may be other considerations. It is important to take the time to put a plan in place. Hopefully, you will never need it, but in the event you do, you will be prepared and can continue business as usual without too much interruption or disruption.
Business owners know that happiness is a positive cash flow!
But, every now and then entrepreneurs are caught in a cash crunch. The long-term solution to this is a detailed examination of every expense, an analysis of pricing and investigating bringing on outside capital. The process takes time and won’t help meet payroll by Friday, or other operational costs. Every business owner knows this drill – drop everything and start dialing for dollars! In a frantic effort to get money into the bank, the owner starts calling customers to coax them to quickly pay their invoices. Since this is an emergency, calls are made to the customers with the best relationships and those most likely to respond to a plea for a quick payment. And while this may be one way to get cash in to meet the immediate expenses, the owner’s best customers are wondering about the strength of the business and the slowest paying customers may have gotten overlooked entirely.
Business owners finding themselves in a cash flow deficit...
...being looking for additional capital to meet these needs, overlooking the fact that they never established a collection policy for delinquent accounts. Following a few easy steps with each invoice issued, the owner will experience timely payments eliminate those desperate cash shortages just before payroll.
The first step is in the details
Even if you are providing service to a company down the block, verify where invoices are to be sent, who needs to be copied, and who approves your invoice for payment. Get the contact information for accounts payable, e-mail and phone numbers. An invoice sent to the wrong address is rarely forwarded. Follow-up on your invoices and get confirmation that the invoice is approved for payment. Also, confirm the customer understands the payment terms on the purchase order, and ask if you can offer a discount for early pay.
You know when your invoice is due...
...have someone from your company call several days before payment is due to verify that the invoice is in line for payment on that day. A little follow through will keep you up to date and help avoid problems that your customer may have with your invoice. The customer will also know that you are on keeping up with your business and that you will be verifying invoices and staying on top of them to pay. This takes time away from promoting your business but is necessary unless you find another solution.
When customers do not accept discounts for quick pay or are just slow, there are other options. One of these is invoice factoring, a simple solution to shortages and immediate cash for your business.
Cash flow is one of the most crucial factors to success in your business...
Funding your business through invoice factoring works like this:
The business owner sells his completed invoices to the factoring company. The factoring company verifies the invoices and funds the business owner with a percentage of the total, usually 85-95%, When the factoring company receives payment on the purchased invoices, they return the balance or “reserve”, less the agreed upon fees. The factoring company will stay up on when the invoices are due and allow you more freedom to promote your business.
The business owner has consistent cash without waiting for his customers to pay, and by using his own assets, does not incur debt for his business as he or she would with a traditional bank loan.
A few simple steps will keep your business on track, your cash available for running your business and peace of mind for you, the business owner.
Call American Receivable today and let us show you how we can give you peace of mind...