A tale of two businesses
June 4, 2011 was a devastating morning for buildings surrounding a vacant building at 816 Washington Avenue in Brooklyn, New York. Over 100 firefighters fought a four-alarm fire that sent six to the hospital and torched neighboring businesses. Of the Prospect Heights businesses affected by the fire, two include a coffee shop and a cell phone retailer.
The Coffee Shop
Struggling to make ends meet, the young owner of the coffee shop thought she could save some money by not paying her commercial insurance bills. She discussed this option with her parents, from whom she sought advice, and they convinced her that this was a bad idea. She took their advice and paid the bills. While the damage to the coffee shop seemed minimal, the expenses to replace the windows the firefighters broke, the water damage clean up and the smoke damage and recovery could have easily tanked this business if the owner did not have the proper insurance coverage to pay for the restoration services.
The Cell Phone Retailer
While it had the proper insurance coverage, the cell phone retail store suffered a massive amount of water damage, which poses a potential mold hazard. The building needs large-scale restoration and the owners do not know the status of their store’s structural integrity. Therefore, the owners do not know when they can open for business again. In an interview for the website Prospect Heights Patch, the shop owner stated, “It’s like you wake up one morning and you don’t have a business anymore. Devastated. That’s exactly how you feel. It’s a hardship, we have families, we have newborns to feed, and then you have to deal with this.”
What was missing for the cell phone storeowners was a business continuity plan—a plan that outlines how to keep a business going in an event such as this. Fires, water damage and natural disasters are among the top killers of small businesses when the owners do not have a plan to recover before an incident occurs. While one cannot always prevent a disaster from happening, one can prevent the need to suffer through the hardships that may follow.