What To Do in an Emergency

If a catastrophic event happened, do you have a plan in place for your c-store?

“With the recent bombings in New York, it’s certainly a relevant question to be asking,” says Caryn Dewitt, a C-Buying member and owner of McPeek’s Inc. in Royal Oak, MI. Dewitt admits that she doesn’t have specific plan in place for more dangerous situations.

“The reality is, I don’t know how each person would react in certain situations.”

Dewitt does, however, emphasize to every employee that they are in charge when she’s not in the store and they need to be comfortable in making decisions—with the goal of keeping everyone safe as a first priority.

“As an owner, you need to be able to walk out the door and trust that the people you hire will react as best they can in those situations. I chat about that at the time of hire and they know I trust them to do that.”

Thinking through some common sense steps can help avoid panic, writes Robert Haynes in his book, Take Control of Life’s Crises Today! The ultimate goal is to be able to confidently manage through any level of crisis.

Ready for three practical crisis-prep steps?

  1. Appoint an emergency manager
    Assign one person on your team to take a risk assessment and plan ahead for emergency situations. What are the most likely emergency scenarios? What are the unlikely ones? Where should employees go? Who should they call?
  2. Draft a plan
    In Ferguson, MO, employees at the QuikTrip store told the local newspaper that staying put, locking themselves in the back room, and calling police likely saved their lives.

    Clearly the primary focus is to keep employees and customer safe. Think through the best approach to doing that at your location. Prioritize a list of emergency contacts and keep it in several different locations for easy access.
  3. Test it out
    Conduct a drill during off-hours—it will reinforce to employees that their safety comes first. Walk through one scenario that may be more likely to happen, such as the power going out in a winter storm, and one extreme case, such as a riot outside the store.
Hopefully your team will never need to enact an emergency plan, but having one ready can help avoid anxiety and panic. Successfully teaching your team to manage a crisis will build strength and confidence rather than leave employees overwhelmed in a state of panic. And if employees can deal with a major crisis, they’ll most likely be able to handle minor ones.

Want more information about how your c-store should deal with natural disasters? Visit the C Square Tip Videos Page.
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