Natural disasters – tornadoes, hurricanes, floods, fires, earthquakes – seem to be hitting more often and with more intensity than ever. And when disaster strikes, quick, clear, and accurate communication is essential.
Which is why developing a disaster communication plan for your rent-to-own business before an emergency occurs is crucial. A comprehensive, considered communication plan not only will prepare you and your team to better manage crises, but also will ensure everyone affected has the information they need when they need it.
A new resource guide from Tulane University’s School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine – which offers a Master of Public Health in Disaster Management program – provides insights on how to coordinate and disseminate information during a crisis. Developing a Disaster Communication Plan: 8 Steps guides readers through a systematic approach to creating a disaster communication plan that will build trust, neutralize hazardous misinformation, and give your employees and customers the facts they need during an emergency.
“During a disaster, your team is looking for consolation and direction,” says Dan Singh, CEO of Dial Rent To Own, which has locations in Puerto Rico, Aruba, Guam, and Saipan. “Having a communications plan in place is extremely important for checking on employee safety and store security. It will answer fundamental questions for your staff, like Is our store damaged? Do I still have a job? What will our operating hours be? When do I come to work? How are my co-workers? How will we work with customers who have suffered losses?”
Without a formal communication plan, people involved in a disaster can easily become confused, overwhelmed, or panicked. A well-developed and executed disaster plan helps ensure info is properly provided during an emergency, offers much-appreciated direction during a crisis, and empowers people to make well-informed decisions based on up-to-date data.
Along with the Tulane University resource guide, Shannon Strunk – President of Gulf Breeze Investments dba RNR Tire Express, which operates numerous locations along the Gulf Coast – advises rental dealers consult their colleagues for examples of RTO disaster communication plans.
“Most people who have disaster communication plans have them because they’ve experienced a natural disaster that forced them to develop one,” says Strunk. “Get someone else’s plans so you can understand why they’re planning the way they are. Of course, you’ll have to customize others’ disaster plans for your organization, but studying other communication plans will reveal thoughts and concerns everyone should consider.”
APRO urges all its members to prepare as best they can for the possibility of disaster – including putting together a comprehensive communication plan. The step-by-step resource guide will help APRO members plan their communications before disaster strikes – including how to anticipate possible disasters, create clear messaging, strategize social media use, and more.
“Do not let a disaster catch you unawares,” Singh concludes. “Imagine the worst-case scenario, and plan for that. Develop a plan that addresses store security and employee safety; over the years, we’ve discovered two key components to plan success: people and business. Take care of your people as much as your cash position permits, and your business will benefit.”