business continuity

Before Disaster Strikes

What a Priority Response Emergency Plan can do for you
Wednesday, April 1, 2015

The problem with emergencies is that they happen when you least expect them. Pipes burst, equipment malfunctions, Mother Nature unleashes random acts of extreme weather. In fact, climate change is reportedly increasing the frequency and intensity of storms. Scientists are detecting that severe rain events are happening more often than they used to, and that a warmer atmosphere will only make these events more likely to happen in the future.

What does all this mean for property management professionals? It means, simply, that if you own or manage a property or facility, you’d better be prepared.

Getting back to business

The business of restoration revolves around disaster. Restoration companies help deal with day-to-day emergencies, such as clean-up after small floods and fires, as well as catastrophic events, like the Goderich Tornado, the Slave Lake Wildfires, the flooding in Southern Alberta, the Toronto Ice storm, and the many hurricanes that have struck in Eastern Canada.

Each time there is a catastrophic event, property managers experience many or all of the following complications:

  • Local vendor support quickly reaches full capacity, leaving them in the dark
  • Support companies respond to whoever called first, regardless of size or severity of job
  • Support companies routinely run out of resources to complete the job. (Resources might include specialty drying equipment—such as dehumidifiers, air scrubbers, generators, moisture meters, supplies, specialized cleaning solutions and tools, labour—trained technicians, experienced project managers, specialty sub trades, as well as general labour)
  • Sometimes support companies are forced to walk away from a job, or abandon it entirely until they are able to gather enough resources. Worst case scenario is that they go out of business because they ran out of cash flow to support their commitments
  • With so many large jobs to choose from, vendors are able to say yes to some and no to others
  • When there are multiple parties involved (customers, adjusters, brokers etc.) there may be substantial time delays before the work can begin

The advantages of having a pre-established partner

Having a pre-established restoration partner can help eliminate all the issues listed above. FirstOnSite’s commercial property business model is designed to serve customers from beginning to end. They constantly look at industry challenges from a customer perspective, and proactively develop programs, tools and process initiatives in response—all with the specific goal of providing higher quality, reliability, transparency and better service.

Three years ago, FirstOnSite introduced their Priority Response Emergency Plan, known as the PREP program. “PREP is our partnership program we developed for our commercial customers,“ explains Margo Malowney, Director of Marketing at FirstOnSite Restoration. “It is set up to integrate our work with their planning activities, to better meet business continuity objectives, and to work transparently together toward the same recovery goals. Importantly, it is designed to address the most common issues that customers can face in times of major crisis, and to ensure our commercial customers tailored priority service when they need it most”.

The program is built around four major concepts:

  1. Partnership
  2. Planning
  3. Pro-activity
  4. Priority

First and foremost, the PREP Program is a partnership—one that begins before disaster strikes and before any urgency is required. FirstOnSite leads planning sessions with program customers in order to discuss expectations, priorities and protocols. These sessions often involve physical walk-throughs of the customers’ properties to establish familiarity beforehand. The information shared serves as a guide when an emergency happens, and allows FirstOnSite to respond and mitigate the loss faster and better for each unique customer.

“Even details like knowing where to park and enter the building can help speed our response time,” Malowney says.

Having a PREP program ensures that FirstOnSite can be proactive with its partners whenever an event is foreseeable, such as with the flooding in Southern Alberta in the spring of 2013. Together with partners, FirstOnSite can work to anticipate resource needs and mobilize as necessary, ensuring that they are fully equipped and prepared to provide the service promised as quickly and effectively as possible.

Finally, and significantly, this program provides priority service to its program partners. While this is of value during a day-to-day crisis, it is especially important during times of catastrophe, when local support resources are stretched thin and when help can be a long time coming.

When an event occurs, being prepared means that property owners already have half the battle won. According to the research firm Gartner Inc., the average cost of downtime for a midsize company is $70,000 per hour. A partnership with a restoration company established prior to an emergency situation can help support your specific business continuity priorities, while providing an immediate response that is already tailored to you.

Visit FirstOnSite Restoration to find out more.