The first aspect, geographic association, has to do with your physical location and the impression customers, suppliers, and stake holders think of in regards to that location. Businesses in the shadow of Pike’s Peak send materials out with that beautiful Colorado image all over the country. But when the image on the national news is of raging fires at the base of America’s Mountain, thoughts of doubt and concern are now there in your customers’ minds. Same for a business on the beautiful Atlantic or Gulf coast; very picturesque until the news is saturated with images of an incoming hurricane. Even if your business still stands, that negative perception is there.
The second area of impact is employee confidence. How much do your people think you are prepared as a business to deal with a disaster? If you are faced with a flood, fire, hurricane, tornado, or other disaster – do your employees trust your company is prepared or do they think the company reaction will best be described as running around like a headless chicken? (This is a topic for another time, but I’ve seen references as high as 75% of employees do not think their employers are prepared for any disaster.)
Lastly, your company reputation can suffer from these events from the impression customers, suppliers, stake holders, and the community have based on how you responded to the event. If in any way your reaction was perceived as ill-prepared your reputation sinks faster than leaky submarine.
So yes, I firmly believe your company can be negatively impacted by a disaster even when you had no physical or operational impact. I also believe from a business continuity perspective that you CAN absolutely do something about it by addressing what I call the “3-P’s” – Place, People, and Processes.
No matter where you are located you will have threats to deal with as a business. You probably can’t pack up and move, but you can understand the threats you face in PLACE and prepare for those threats (which is part of the work in the 3rd P). You can also asses your physical infrastructure and work on mitigating the impacts from these threats. To increase the trust from your PEOPLE, clearly define what they should do in your Emergency Action Plan (EAP), implement a training and awareness program, and involve them in your continuity program. Finally, you can make your reputation more resilient by implementing business continuity PROCESSES. This will make your company better prepared to respond to and recovery from these events, but also the added benefit of providing a positive lift to your company reputation just by being ready, even if nothing happens.
Improving the 3-P’s doesn’t have to be a giant task. One of the key points I emphasize in my training courses is that small actions lead to big gains. If you start with one task in any of these areas and build upon those first steps it will make your company more resilient in the long run.
If you would like to know more on how you can strengthen your company in these three areas, please contact me. I’d be glad to help.