Communicate with key people after a natural disaster

Find out what financial assistance and support is available if you have been affected by a natural disaster.

Whether you can reopen immediately after a natural disaster or need more time, you must keep your customers and suppliers informed. Re-establishing your communications systems quickly is essential to recovering normal business operations.

Contact your phone and internet service providers to find out how they can help you stay in touch with your customers, suppliers and staff. Also contact your information technology support person to seek advice on restoring your computer systems.

For information on hot desk facilities, data retrieval and cloud-based technologies, contact the Australian Information Industry Association (AIIA).

Communicate with your customers

By communicating with your customers you can find out who has been directly affected by the natural disaster, and how you might be able to help them.

If you have access to your customer information database, you could contact your customers and tell them what your business plans are. For example:

  • when you will reopen
  • where you are operating from now
  • when you can take new orders
  • when you will be able to start deliveries again.

The more information you can give your customers about when you will reopen, the higher the chance that your customers will continue to buy from you.

If your customers have been affected by the natural disaster you may need to adjust your marketing strategy. Learn more about marketing, advertising and promotion.

Target market

You may find that your target market changes after a natural disaster. For example, your target market may increase if customers who did not need your products or services before need them now. Or, your target market may decrease if customers now see your products or services as a luxury they can no longer afford.

Learn about identifying customer needs.

Talk to your suppliers and distributors

Make it a priority to speak with your suppliers and distributors to find out if they have been affected by the natural disaster and to tell them when you expect to start trading again.

Ask your suppliers if they can still provide you with the products and services that you need. You may need to source new suppliers, or develop new relationships with alternative suppliers.

Learn more about responding to supply chain disruptions.

Managing debts

If you have any concerns about paying debts, discuss the issue openly as soon as you can. Many businesses offer flexibility after a natural disaster. For example, your:

  • suppliers may give you flexibility in your initial order or payment terms
  • distributors might be able to accommodate your postponed or new delivery schedule.

If you have placed any substantial orders with your suppliers, you may want to contact them to negotiate reducing or cancelling these to conserve cash.

Review your products and services

As you rebuild, it may also be a good time to review your product or service mix according to the current supply and demand. Do you need to diversify or change your prices? You could calculate your break-even point to find out whether your prices allow you to receive the profit you need.

Communicate with your competitors

It's important to talk to your competitors and find out how they have been affected by the natural disaster. You may find that they have decided to reopen. Or, some of your competitors may close or sell up due to the natural disaster – in this case, you might have a range of new opportunities available to you, including increasing your customer base or perhaps even buying out a competitor.

Learn about identifying your competitive advantage.

Evaluate your industry

Contact your industry association to discuss the health and direction of your industry. They should be able to provide you with advice, support and information about how you can get your business back on track.

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