In the disaster restoration business, we usually have a steady stream of work due to bad weather, accidents or breakdowns. We use each job to deepen our experience and enhance our reputation so that when agents or property owners need emergency repairs and restoration work, we are the go-to company.

If a major disaster strikes your region, that steady stream of work will turn into a tsunami. Chances are that you will have more work than you can possibly handle, which could be a good thing.

Or perhaps not. If you take on more work or larger jobs than you can manage, you’ll soon have your own catastrophe and your company will become a disaster scene.   

A prime example is one company that called me after a major job had put it under water. The huge restoration project was too good to pass up and the company jumped at the chance to do the work, knowing that successful completion would lead to future jobs, good referrals and great marketing material.

Unfortunately, the company failed to get a clear understanding ahead of time about when the insurer would pay. You can probably guess what happened. The insurance checks were slow to come in, the restoration contractor had to exhaust all of the company’s internal cash and line of credit, and the dream of profits turned into a nightmare as subcontractors and vendors pressed for payment. I helped with negotiations between the property owner and insurer and eventually everything was sorted out, but it was a sobering experience for that company.

Restoration contractors need to heed the advice that the National Flood Program gives to property owners all the time: “the time to plan for a disaster is now – before anything happens.”

Major projects have four stages, each with their own set of requirements. 

  • Startup– Getting agreement on the scope of the project, the payment schedule, the time requirements and limits of the job.
  • Planning– Working out key issues such as labor, supplies and cash flow as well as governmental regulations.
  • Execution – Bringing in the teams to handle the labor, supplying them with materials, monitoring their progress, and keeping track of costs and schedules.
  • Completion– Ensuring that completed work meets quality control standards and specifications of the job.

Throughout the job, you must work to keep communication flowing at all levels and provide documentation of all completed work.

If a hurricane, flood or tornado swept through your region, how prepared would your company be for the onslaught of jobs that would follow? Do you know where you would get the additional manpower to handle the work? Would suppliers be able to get you the needed materials? Do you have systems and procedures in place to keep the work on track? And do you have the self-discipline to turn away jobs that could pull you under?

Although every job is different, you should have checklists and processes in place so you won’t have to improvise or be surprised by factors that should have been settled at the beginning. If you need assistance in assessing your readiness to handle a major disaster, contact NIR and we can put you in touch with people who can help.

As tempting as it may be to take all the business that walks in, you should consider your company’s disaster response plan first. Now is the time to prepare. Have an outsider analyze your capabilities so you won’t find yourself digging out from under a mountain of problems that were supposed to be part of your perfect job.