Hurricanes. They’re an inevitability of living in Florida (or anywhere on the Gulf or East coast of the United States for that matter). If you’re in the market to buy a business, how much should hurricanes factor into your decision? It depends.
If you’ve decided that Florida is where you’d like to end up then hurricanes will just be something that happens. Your house will contain hurricane supplies and you’ll watch the advisories from the National Hurricane Center whenever a storm approaches.
If you are considering businesses, then factoring in hurricanes will depend on where you’d like the business to be and how your business might be affected by prolonged power/utility/internet outages. For instance, if you are looking for a beach bar on a barrier island you’ll need to be sure you consider that a bad hurricane that makes landfall where you are might cause catastrophic damage to your business. If you would be more comfortable with a business located in a more inland zone, you’ll still need to see where your business location stands in terms of evacuation and flooding zones. You need to think about how you will keep your business functioning if you lose power, water and/or internet access for days or weeks on end. If you’re considering that same beach bar, what is your plan if the business loses power and you can’t run the refrigerators that hold your inventory? If you can’t run your point-of-sale system without the internet, will you just revert to paper accounting or will you have a hot spot on standby? The point here is although hurricanes are typically an infrequent problem – the damage they can cause is something you need to think about when you are choosing a business based on location (and you need to consider your game plan if a storm comes you way).
When a storm does approach, you should be ready – long before the weather gets ugly. If your business requires power to run refrigerated storage systems (for example) you should invest in an on-demand generator system long before your first hurricane season. It can be difficult, if not impossible, to gather and install hurricane protections for your business if you wait until everyone is panicking and the store shelves are empty. If you think you want to secure windows with shutters or wood, get those installed or ready to be quickly installed outside of hurricane season. You also need to prep your business early as you will need to give your employees time to storm prep their homes before the storm rolls in.
You should also ensure you have the proper business insurance should the worst happen. You will need insurance for wind and water/flood damage, as well as enough coverage to replace your equipment, inventory, etc. should you need to or want to rebuild.
You should also be ready for the cascade of cancellations that typically happen when the forecast cone falls on your area, whether the storm ends up impacting you or not. You should also come up with a set of protocols – like when you’ll close up shop, how you’ll secure the business, what you’ll do post-storm and then go over that information with employees so everyone is on the same page at the start of every hurricane season.
Should hurricanes dissuade you from buying a business in Florida? No, not at all. Like earthquakes in California or tornadoes in the Midwest every area has it’s own unique natural disasters to consider and prepare for. Choosing a business in a hurricane prone area probably means that you’ve picked a business where there’s heavy tourist traffic (like the beach bar example) – so you need to weigh the potential for all the money you can make with the preparations necessary should a hurricane roll in.
Are you thinking about buying a business and are worried about the potential for hurricane damage? Would you like to know more about what Florida businesses can do to prepare for storms? Please leave any questions or comments and we would be happy to help.