It’s been 6 years since the devastating fire burned down our Conference Venue and Lodge near Pretoria. Even though there’s not a trace left of the fire and ashes, memories of the horrid event will take longer to fade. In light of all the recent floods that hit the Cape we thought to share what we’ve learned from our encounter with disaster.
Always be prepared for a disaster even though you think you’ll never have to
You might think that your business is safe from disaster and having a contingency plan is something you can put on the back burner. The best way to overcome a disaster is to have a plan of action BEFORE it hits you.
Make sure you have backups of all your data
This includes lists of suppliers, clients, bookings, employees and everything your business relies on for operation. Keep all your important documents and backup copies at an off-site location. When disaster struck our Conference Venue all our records were destroyed in the fire and we didn’t know which conference clients were coming and what their requirements were. We did however do everything we could for our clients and arranged with a neighbouring Lodge to accommodate all our booked conferences while our kitchen staff was on hand for all the catering needs.
Identify critical business tools that would need to be recovered first
For us one of the things that hit us the hardest was losing our database. But we’ve learned from this and now we have a cloud-based database and Customer Relationship Management (CRM) System so that we can provide an even better service to our clients.
Take photographs and videos of your assets
This will make things a lot easier for insurance companies to assess the damage.
Have an emergency response plan
Make sure you have reliable ways to communicate with your employees during an emergency, but also make sure everyone knows exactly what to do during an emergency. Write out every step of the plan and assign responsibilities to employees, also practise your plan and make sure everyone knows what measures to take to preserve life and limit property losses. We were very fortunate that no lives were lost during the fire.
Deliver Bad News Early
When faced with a natural disaster the sooner you can let your clients know the better. It is a hard thing to do especially when you can’t give a definitive date or time when the situation will be resolved but as long as you can show your clients you’re doing everything you can for them they should understand. After the fire burned down our Conference Venue we notified our clients as soon as we could but also informed them of the plan we had made for them by accommodating them at the neighbouring lodge. The response was one of sympathy and understanding but also appreciation for going the extra mile for them.
Related article: Intundla Conference & Teambuilding Venue – Pretoria, Gauteng
Accept the Situation and move Forward
Any disaster will be an emotional time and there will be times when you feel like giving up. But as we started rebuilding our once beautiful Conference Venue and Lodge we got strength from everyone’s support. All the Intundla employees – housekeepers, chefs, barmen, duty managers, everyone was available and willing to help restore our lovely lodge. And six months after the fire the Lodge and Conference Venue outside Pretoria was once again open for business and today looking more magnificent than ever. So make use of the resources you have in people, you will need it. We are still grateful to one and all that helped during this difficult time and we wouldn’t have been able to continue without them.