Hurricane Season Checklist for Business Owners by Kevin McNally, JD
Whether you are a long-time Florida business owner, or you recently relocated your company or staff to the state, it is that time of year when you must begin preparing for hurricane season, which runs annually from June 1 through November 30. The following checklist is intended to help you protect and preserve your assets, […]
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Whether you are a long-time Florida business owner, or you recently relocated your company or staff to the state, it is that time of year when you must begin preparing for hurricane season, which runs annually from June 1 through November 30. The following checklist is intended to help you protect and preserve your assets, mitigate losses and resume operations as quickly as possible following a natural disaster, whether that be a hurricane, tornado, flood or fire.
Inventory your Assets
Ensure you have up-to-date lists of all your current business assets, including tangible property, such as buildings, computers and other office equipment, machinery, vehicles and inventory, along with your original basis in those assets, the date of purchase, depreciation schedules and the current fair-market-value, if possible. It is also a good idea to make a digital video recording of these assets along with a narration from you describing each item in detail. For example, if you own real estate, use your phone to videotape a walking tour of the entire building, including the interior space, the outside parking lots and all the landscaping.
While we are talking about assets, be sure you have on hand a current list of all your clients, vendors and your employees with their emergency contact numbers. This will enable you to maintain communications before, during and after a storm with the people you rely on to make your business a success.
Copy and Secure Key Business Documents
In the event your business sustains losses, you must be prepared to demonstrate your company’s track record of financial performance to your insurer. You can accomplish this by gathering and securing three to five years of the following documents:
- Accounting journals
- Bank statements
- Federal and state tax returns (including those for payroll and sales tax)
- Financial statements
- General ledgers
- Profit and loss statements
You should also have a detailed accounting of your current operations, including pending and fulfilled sales orders, as well as future budget forecasts and other projected financial data.
Check in with Payroll Service Providers
If you use a payroll service provider, ask them if they have a fiduciary bond in place to protect your business in the event they default of their responsibilities. Even if their offices are closed, your employees will need their paychecks.
Regularly Review and Update your Company’s Emergency Plan
Do not wait until hurricane season to develop an emergency plan that maps out the actions your company will take when a storm is tracking in your direction. Consider what employees should do to secure their offices when a storm threatens? At what point will you close your office? How will you communicate with staff before, during and after a storm passes? How will you secure digital assets and enable your operations to continue through a potentially prolonged recovery period?
It is often a good idea to create a disaster-recovery and business-continuity task force of key employees you trust to take the lead and carry out this plan.
The speed and ease at which your company can return to normal operations after a disaster depends on the planning you do today and on a regular basis. At a minimum, you should annually review your plan, make updates, put it into practice and share it with your current employees.
About the Author: Kevin McNally, JD, is a senior manager of Tax Services with Berkowitz Pollack Brant Advisors + CPAs, where he works with high-net-worth families, private equity firms and real estate development businesses on a broad range of tax matters, including complex deal structuring. He can be reached at the CPA firm’s Miami office at 305-379-7000 or at email@example.com.
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