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by Joy Wilson, Scan 123
Since the beginning of time, natural disasters have caused havoc to people and the areas surrounding them. Right now, Hawaii residents are dealing with the latest eruption of Kilauea Volcano. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, in 2017, there were 16 severe weather events that each cost the U.S. $1 billion or more, ranging from wildfires in California to a tornado outbreak in the Midwest. While Kilauea Volcano is known to be an active volcano, not all natural disasters are as predictable.
If you knew you had 24 hours to pack and evacuate your business, how well would you be able to recover from the storm after it passed? The U.S. Small Business Administration offers a checklist to aid businesses in creating a disaster preparedness plan. Would you take your computers, servers, and other expensive equipment? When is the last time your data was backed up? What if your home was also at risk? Would any of these things matter?
Unfortunately, some business owners have to make these difficult decisions. Insurance will cover the damage, right? Not always. You can file a claim for your computers and furniture. But if the filing cabinets in your office aren’t fireproof or otherwise protected, those paper files are gone. Yes, you should be able to retrieve your latest CRM backup and be up and running. What is that paper worth anyway?
Why do we keep paper files? Look around your office and think about all of the paper that you keep, file, retrieve and refile. What makes it so important? In a typical dealership, paperwork takes up enough space to build another office!
The bread and butter of your business is contained in your sales documents. Can you reprint hundreds of your customers’ signatures on purchase orders? How long will it take you to replace all of the financing documents collected for each customer’s POI for the financing that was in process when the storm hit?
Credit applications come in handy when you want to finance your customer for that new car or other big-ticket item. But should you keep it even if the sale doesn’t go through? When your customer calls two months from now to inquire on a credit check, what document will you have to refer back to?
Maintaining proper financial records is essential for every business. It keeps you honest, gives you the ability to manage your business financially and keep you off the IRS radar. Income statements, bank deposit slips and bank statements are all necessary for the accountant to handle the books and file taxes at year end.
Do you have proper insurance in place for an unexpected storm? If so, is all the insurance information stored and readily accessible in an emergency?
Your check register may show all of the checks printed to each of your vendors and the amount paid. How comprehensive is the information stored online? Does it include all invoices paid and specific notes on the job? It’s easy to overlook the details we jot down on our invoices, which causes problems when we search for them later.
Your dealership has contracts for every vendor you work with. Do you have a collected record of them or do you rely on your vendors to keep them for you? Stay in control of your contracts by filing them together and reviewing them annually at a minimum. Doing so will keep your vendor accountable for the agreement in place.
Employee Files/Payroll Files
The EEOC requires that you hold employee files for all of your workers. Are you in compliance with the EEOC hiring practices? How will you avoid a lawsuit from an employee with poor performance if there is no file to document the repeated warnings? Your employment claim could result in a dispute over unpaid overtime, and without proper proof you could be held responsible for paying lost wages to your disgruntled employees.
As a leader in your business, it’s essential for you to be prepared. Being prepared includes having a sales plan for your staff, knowing how to handle customer disputes and planning the financial future of your business. Getting your business prepared for a natural disaster includes having a plan for your paper files. Take the worry out of maintaining manual filing by implementing a document storage solution.
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