by Nori Gale
Develop a plan for your fleet company to respond to natural disasters
We have all felt some measure of uncertainty brought about by changes in our climate, one being due to the increase in weather crises. As you work to manage your fleet, developing a business continuity plan in the face of natural disasters will become increasingly important.
What is a business continuity plan?
A business continuity plan is a tool to help your organization respond to any disaster that may arise. Business continuity planning has traditionally focused on developing a resilient primary work environment so that business operations can continue even through an emergency situation. This involves equipping an office with an infrastructure which includes back-up power, so that operations are not interrupted by extreme weather or other unforeseen events that might disrupt public utilities.
What should be in your fleet business continuity plan?
Your company’s business continuity plan should provide your employees and your customers with everything they need to know in the case of an emergency. From how to evacuate and where to go, to what to expect from technology, this plan will help ensure that your employees stay safe, your data is secure, and your business can continue operating after a disaster hits.
What should be included in your plan:
Tools for Tracking Disasters
Invest in tools that will alert you to any new crisis that arises, monitor risks at the local level, and bring all State and local government restrictions and recommendations from health agencies in one easy place to access. Examples of these services that will help you maintain global situational awareness including Early Alert, World Aware, and NC4. They provide around the clock access to what is often rapidly changing information. You will receive real-time alerts and daily reports which enable proactive mitigation and quick response to areas of increased risk.
Pinpoint those with critical functions and create resiliencies
Create a list of all your company’s critical functions and account for them in your continuity plan. Examples of critical functions might be in finance, customer service, or the contractors who drive your fleet. They are members of your workforce that need to continue working for the business to continue running. Ask questions like these:
- How many employees are required to support these critical functions? Where are they located?
- Where can we move them and can we move them proactively?
- For “short fuse” events is there an alternate location with cross-trained employees that can provide adequate support on short notice?
- Are the business processes documented to enable temporary support by other departments if required?
Create an emergency communications plan
For each step your fleet organization takes when faced with a disaster, there’s a communications element that should be laid out in advance for how and what you will communicate to your employees, fleet drivers and customers. By emphasizing a high level of communication and focusing on detailed planning, you will be able to lower risks and increase the stability of your workforce. In doing so you will ensure that your company continues to run and that you continue to protect and bolster the lives of your employees.
Fleet technology can aid in recovery from a natural disaster
When your business faces a natural disaster that will directly impact operations, there will be government entities poised to assist you in your recovery. You will want to be organized and prepared to access these organizations and assist them in helping you after the disaster strikes. In addition to your business continuity plan, there is available technology to help prepare your fleet organization for the aftermath of a natural disaster.
According to Government Fleet, one system set up to aid fleet organizations faced with the fallout from an emergency is called the fleet management information system, or FMIS. This system will help you store all important fleet data in one central location, so you can network with government agencies as you recover from severe weather. “A fleet management information system is invaluable during recovery efforts,” Jim Reinish, manager of the Central Automotive Division for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, reports. “Our FMIS was used to quantify data that was used to develop claims that were filed with FEMA.” As you talk with agencies like FEMA, they will ask for detailed information about your fleet. Following a disaster, accessing your records may be tricky, but having that data backed up on your FMIS can make the whole process easier. You’ll be able to immediately access data in response to questions during recovery, which will prevent setbacks as you wait for federal or state aid.
This new era of increased natural disasters requires realigning business continuity planning
We are in the middle of a monumental shift in disaster management. By implementing a disaster business continuity plan for your fleet company, you’ll face the challenges to come with dexterity, focus, and determination.
All fleet cards are not the same, and different types of fuel cards suit the needs of different kinds and sizes of businesses. View WEX’s fleet card comparison chart to see which fleet fuel card is right for you.
Disaster Preparedness Resources:
WEX has a dedicated web page for disaster information to help our customers easily access the most relevant and up-to-date data, tips, and advisory alerts.
Here are some additional resources for seasonal planning for 2021:
Hurricane Ida Updates
California Wildfire Updates
Get the latest fuel prices and closest service stations at your fingertips with WEX Connect, which helps drivers find fuel and service stations available in the local area. Download the mobile app through the App Store or Google Play (Android, iPhone, iPad).
New York Times
Harvard Business Review
Business News Daily
The Washington Post
Editorial note: This article was originally published on February 4, 2016, and has been updated for this publication.