Living in Florida means dealing with hurricanes and severe inclement weather, as well as the challenges involved in recovering from it. As we have had a few days to reflect on the devastation of Hurricane Irma, it is important to think about what we learned and evaluate our plan.

It is imperative to have a strategy for your family, business concerns, employees and clients. At Sapoznik Insurance, we immediately reviewed our business continuity procedure that focuses on our most important assets: Our team members and our clients.

The safety and needs of our team members were top priorities. The ability to communicate with everyone was the key. During Hurricane Matthew a few years ago, some employees could not be reached and we realized the importance of being able to reach everyone. Before closing our South Florida office several days before Irma made landfall, the executive team acquired a list of all team members with their personal email address, personal phone numbers and their home address. Every manager was responsible for keeping in touch with their team members.

A resident sweeps grass clippings as a CentruyLink Inc. employee works to restore phone and data service for a neighborhood after Hurricane Irma in Fort Myers, Fla., on Sept. 13, 2017.
A resident sweeps grass clippings as a CentruyLink Inc. employee works to restore phone and data service for a neighborhood after Hurricane Irma in Fort Myers, Fla., on Sept. 13, 2017. Bloomberg News

We set up a hotline through Google so that everyone was aware of the status of the office and could leave messages as to their well-being. The hotline was updated twice a day. All team members were provided a hurricane checklist with safety tips for both their workspace and their homes.

The plan also ensures that our clients, some of which are national, had no disruption of service. Before closing for Irma, we sent a communication out to all clients informing them of the closing of our South Florida office. We had our phones transferred and received messages through a Google account in another location. This allowed us to respond to all client calls.

Lessons learned
We learned a couple of things throughout this event. We learned how incredibly valuable social media can be during this time and how it is a useful tool to reach both our team members and clients. We posted regularly on our Facebook page and had notifications on our website.

Service is a priority at Sapoznik, and our clients were comforted in the fact that they knew we were available to help. Hurricane Irma also confirmed what we already knew about our incredible South Florida community: We have amazing first responders and everyone pitching in to help others in a time of need.

We also learned that mental well-being during these stressful times is so very important. So, don’t forget to breathe! Ultimately, we learned that being prepared and communication during a natural disaster is what makes a business and individuals get through these devastating events.

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