Updated: Nov 5, 2021
Hurricane Ida has leveled many physical operations for small businesses in Lafourche and Terrebonne Parishes. As a digital expert in Thibodaux, Louisiana, many of my clients are in these locations. I've compiled a list of quick, actionable items you can do to keep your customers and employees aware of what is going on.
Google My Business, social media, and website can be updated to reflect temporary closure until further notice.
You will be extremely busy dealing with numerous issues, so assigning someone to handle your social media updates, preferably someone who is not in the disaster zone, can take some of the pressure off of you as the business owner.
On the platforms where possible, pin posts with the following heading:
DISASTER RECOVERY STATUS: Updated 08/30/2021
(In the post text, consider include the following)
FALSE INFORMATION ALERT: Squash any rumors that are going around about your business.
Set your away message. It can be something as simple as this:
Due to Hurricane Ida, our response time to email inquiries may be delayed. We will respond as soon as we can. Your patience is appreciated.
Update your voicemail with a similar message as your email away message:
Due to Hurricane Ida, our response time to phone inquiries may be delayed. We will respond as soon as we can. Your patience is appreciated.
Communication will be difficult at this time. Your message should be consistent and regular, but your usual digital delivery method (email, text, etc.) may need to change depending on what communication is available at the time.
Your employees should be getting regular updates (think every day or every few days). Think of the different aspects they may be curious about.
Where they should direct customers who are asking questions
Dispel any rumors
What has changed?
What remains the same?
How you can help them?
How they can help you?
You won't have time to curate the message exactly how it needs to be, so again, this is a good time to send bullet points to someone not in the middle of the disaster who can mold your message and get your approval before sending on your behalf.
Food Delivery Services
Turn off all food delivery services until you are ready to deliver again.
Turn off your store completely or, at the very least, turn off shipping if you are unable to ship items. This will mitigate having to cancel or refund orders.
Business Economic Loss Insurance Claim
If you have this insurance, file a claim. If the insurance company gives you the run around, get legal counsel involved.
If you have insurance, you should file a claim with your insurance company immediately. FEMA assistance cannot aid with losses already covered by insurance. But if you still need assistance, here are some resources to apply for disaster funding.
Virtual Business Recovery Center & Virtual Disaster Loan Outreach Center
Mondays – Fridays | 9 a.m. – 6 p.m. | FOCWAssistance@sba.gov | (916) 735-1500
There are tough times ahead for the businesses within our South Louisiana community. Clear and concise crisis communication will be key for keeping your business on track on the road to recovery.