How to Protect Your Business

How to Protect Your Business

We’ve seen it before: peaceful protests hijacked by opportunists who want to spread chaos and use the opportunity to loot.

And if you are a business owner, you are probably pretty nervous about now — rightfully so.

Today we’re going to share three steps you can take to protect your business from civil unrest in your area…

’Cause let’s face it. If you are a small-business owner in 2020 — you’ve been dealt a hard hand.

Like numerous other business owners and entrepreneurs, you may have taken advantage of a government loan or stimulus. and are trying to follow the rules and make your business COVID-compliant. Not to mention you’re trying to pay your bills and your employees and hopefully have a little left over for yourself.

And now, just as the nation begins to open up again and you were hoping to get out of the red, a new and unexpected threat comes your way.

What if everything you work for goes up in smoke?

Six years ago, Kurt Barks of Ferguson, Missouri, experienced just such a trauma:

There [are] a lot of businesses that never came back that [were] lost throughout that time. We were fortunate to have multiple locations… The financial impact was millions of dollars. The emotional impact was irrevocable. It was insane.

Barks laments that the original message of the protests was lost in the destruction, largely wrought by outsiders. The communities impacted suffered long term in many ways due to the loss of services, jobs and the economic foundation of the community — not to mention the anxiety and fear that was fomented.

History seems to be repeating itself, and in the wake of recent violence and destruction, retailers big and small are shortening their hours or closing their doors and boarding up.

In some areas, delivery drivers have been told to stop delivering packages.

It’s not just property being damaged…

The economic impact of riots goes beyond jobs and personal property.

The stock market can be skittish, local sales tax revenue plummets, entrepreneurs and big businesses alike are disincentivized to invest in these communities again and property values plummet.

The hard truth? Insurance companies will likely not cover all the losses and may not cover any losses due to civil disturbances.

“Large chains like Target, Starbucks and Apple use their deep pockets to buy sophisticated policies that cover the entire chain for losses stretching into the millions of dollars,” writes the Los Angeles Times.

Small-business owners tend to have more sparse policies with high deductibles and limited coverage and will end up digging into their own pockets to cover damage and losses — if they pull through at all.

To add insult to injury, some business owners may have let policies lapse during coronavirus lockdowns in an effort to squeeze every penny possible from their budgets.

If you believe that your business is threatened now or at some future time, there are some steps you can take that may protect you and possibly mitigate or minimize damage…

Step 1: Take Pictures

First, take pictures regularly to document what your business and inventory look like under normal operating conditions. It can be tricky to prove the extent of damages after destruction or fire, and this serves as a way to document your claims.

If the damage has already occurred, take pictures prior to attempting to clean up. Again, documentation is your friend.

Step 2: Have a Plan

Next, create an emergency plan and go over it with your staff. They are more likely to remain calm under pressure if they have some idea of what to expect.

Further, closely monitor the news as well as messages from local law enforcement and follow their precautions and recommendations.

Step 3: Protect Your Interests

Then take steps to protect your interests if it is possible that problems will occur in your area. This includes boarding up — something you should be prepared to do ahead of time, making sure you have supplies and hardware on hand.

Close early and get employees out of the area to minimize danger to them. If possible, take as much of your most valuable merchandise and equipment home with you as possible. Removing it from the premises can save you a lot of headaches.

Lastly, monitor emergency declarations. This may affect the latitude with which your insurance company can work, often freeing them up to offer you more timely service. Programs may be implemented that you will want to take advantage of.

State commissioners nationwide are hard at work trying to help those most impacted by recent events. In the wake of coronavirus, many have ordered partial refunds of premiums and extended grace periods on due dates, and if you have not already looked into how this impacts you personally, it is worthwhile and may be a saving grace for your business.

The state commissioner will also have information for you about submitting claims and the extent of coverage.

Prior to 2020, the Watts riots of 1965 and the LA riots of 1992 were the costliest civil disturbances in modern U.S. history. Though it is too early to tally up the current damage, it looks like a new record will be set.

With purpose,

Dr. Patrick Gentempo

Patrick Gentempo