London and other major cities have suffered really serious civil unrest over recent days. The main impact being felt by mostly small and medium sized businesses ranging from Betting Shops, Jewellers to TV and Hi-Fi stores. It would seem that those stores that hold cash and valuables have attracted thieves while other stores such as furniture and carpet warehouses have been targetted by arsonists.
Clearly this is an instance of disaster recovery for those businesses involved but in terms of resilience how could Business Continuity as a discipline help these business owners to prevent such attacks when thugs are setting premises on fire?
Business Continuity Planning as a discipline really helps medium to larger companies where it is clearly relevant to have a company policy, a programme with owners and check points for individual plan sign-offs with regular audited exercises. However, we know that small business owners are not engaged in BCM as it does not feel relevant or a cost with no practical benefit. It is very hard to prove a negative. A butcher or specialist clothes retailer is not going to have a set of premises on standby holding stock back just in case, so what is the answer? How can a business prepare for such events in a way that is cost effective and relevant?
The answer could lay with groups of small business owners getting together to support each other and plan for such events. These truly remarkable events may now require a truly remarkable solution in the way they cooperate together to put together a resilience plan for a set of streets and businesses. My local town centre has a town retailers commitee who spend time debating car parking charging schemes but perhaps they should look at the impact of riots and look to produce a plan to share resources such as premises in order to keep a business operating in some way until things get back to normal. A fund could be established to meet the costs of extra physical security measures like steel shutters to spread the cost.
Many small businesses now have an on-line presence, owners need to keep a log of customer contact details so they can communicate with their customers by email and the website so that the business is still operating and specifically what interim arrangements have been put in place. For example, a restaurant may be unable to seat customers due to window damage however the kitchens may still be capable of being used for delivery therefore, getting that message out is all important in keeping a business alive.
More ideas will be submitted to future blog updates. Please fell free to contribute by emailing me at email@example.com or visting www.signacure.co.uk