The world has watched the devastation Hurricane Harvey left behind in America’s third largest city, Houston. Now, the Southeastern US states are being threatened by Hurricane Irma who is scheduled to be a category 5 storm upon landfall. I was raised in Florida and experienced a fair share of hurricanes in my childhood. My most vivid memory of pre-hurricane chaos is the empty shelves in grocery stores of canned foods and bottled water. Natural disasters throw off supply-chain balance across all of the commodity sectors and the rest of the world feels the repercussions. The negative consequences of not having a strategy in place for your supplying business, especially if you are a supplier of perishable goods, can be detrimental to your business’ financial health. Not to mention, the potential positive impacts you can have on your community if circumstances go from normal to bad or bad to worse could save the lives of some of your community members.
Since our focus on the supply-chain topic usually pertains to food here at BlueCart, we do not want to stray away from that scope. Food is, after all, the most essential commodity after drinking water for disaster relief.
Plan ahead from day 1
The zombie apocalypse could break out, or a nuclear attack - what used to be jokes once upon a time are increasingly becoming realities, right? (Okay, maybe not the zombies part). That is why we advise you to plan ahead from the very beginning of your business opening. Make a list of scenarios and rate them by severity. Create a concise but helpful guide about what to do, where to access certain supplies should a natural disaster affect the location of your business.
Keep communication solid on your team
Communication is key to complex problem solving. Organize a disaster crisis team communication group with strategies that include how to get in touch with one another in the event you get separated. Always keep a backup pair of battery-operated walkie-talkies in the event of separation. Electronics that require a charge are not as reliable during disaster situations and having a backup plan to stay in contact with your team is essential for minimizing losses.
Ask your colleagues about their disaster plans
Whether your food supply business is a bakery, a small-scale farm, a large-scale production, it is always insightful to get survival information from other businesses that are in the same boat as you. Logistics are a messy ordeal and figuring out 100% of the logistics is better done by a group rather than one mind on its own. Work together with local businesses to minimize risk before disaster strikes.
Consider the dire need for certain products
What are the main products at your supplying business that would be the most useful to your community in times of despair? Making arrangements for distributing those products first could make a significant difference to someone’s life. It seems heavily redundant but there really is no better way to prepare for a disaster other than to make specific and useful plans prior to any foreseeable disaster.
Have a backup storage option for your data
Data is crucial for the growth and longevity of your business. Don’t let power outages and other challenges prevent you from tracking information about your business. Especially in the context of a natural disaster, your data could be very helpful for other business entities to learn how to respond in times of crisis. We encourage an offsite location for electronic data storage. Not only will it benefit others in your position in the future, but it will also protect your business metrics so nothing goes untracked.
Every business along the value chain in the food industry exists to serve their community. If you have leftover inventory that will perish or possibly be damaged in storage during the disaster, please take the initiative to be proactive and donate these goods to a local shelter who will be able to more efficiently distribute life-saving aid during the disaster. With impeding unpredictable weather behaviors and hurricane season starting off in full swing, the most intelligent and responsible actions you could take would be to take serious preparatory measures. Establish partnerships with people who understand your business and supply-chain so the recovering situation is made as fluid as possible even if communication streams become lost. You never know how large of an impact you could make if you choose to allocate some time to make plans for the worst-case scenario, especially when it comes to the food supply chain.
Interested in learning how BlueCart can help restaurants and suppliers grow their business? Feel free to check out our website! If you're ready to join BlueCart's big family today, please head right this way. We can't wait to talk to you!