The past few months has been insane! We’re right in the thick of Hurricane season, which doesn’t end until the beginning of November. Hurricane Harvey brought much disaster to Houston, Hurricane Irma caused massive damage in the Caribbean, engulfed the entire state of Florida and caused damage in the Carolina’s as well. Now, we’re dealing with Hurricane Maria, as she causes devastation to the Caribbean.
Today, I wanted to walk you through what we can do as planners before and after the landfall of a hurricane. These tips will help not only us keep our calm, but our clients and colleagues as well.
The past few weeks have been a lot of preparation and a lot of catch up. In South Florida, many are still dealing with the loss of power, even over a week after Hurricane Irma made landfall. For us event planners, this is one of those things you can’t really plan for. That’s just how Mother Nature works. We don’t get advanced notice of when a Hurricane will hit, normally only getting two weeks notice of the direct Hurricane path.
This time is usually reserved in making sure our own house is order and thoughts of business can sometimes fall to the backburner when we have so much extra responsibility added to our plates. Let alone the thoughts of venues and vendors that can incur physical or water damages, cancelled events, delayed payments and more.
Partner With Other Event Planners
Being your own boss is fun, but it’s still great to have a network of people that you can rely on when the unknown seems to occur. I am a strong advocate of what the power of networking can do for yourself and your business. In fact, I wrote a blog post about it.
It’s important to not only check in with fellow event planners to ensure that they are safe during the storm, but to check in with them after as well, just in case any of your event plans fall through. When dealing with something as unpredictable as a hurricane, it’s important to be prepared for the worst. Having people in your network that you can rely on and tap into their resources when needed is crucial during times like these.
Before The Hurricane
If your clients have an event planned when the Hurricane is expected to make landfall, re-scheduling should be the main goal. As event planners, we wear many hats, and this is where the ‘therapist’ one will need to be put on. Especially if planning for a huge event, such as a wedding, you should almost expect your client to be freaking out. You will need to be the voice of reason, calming their fears and worries and helping them to logically think. It’s also important to not rush your clients to make a final decision at this time, it’s better to set an official date of reschedule after the hurricane has passed.
Think about what you can provide at this time that can be of assistance to your clients. Items such as checklists are helpful and can be sent out via email. These can include information from evacuating a home, to storing financial documents, to compiling an emergency bag. Sometimes people get so busy preparing for the hurricane, they don’t have time to research what they need to do, most just stick to what they know. If you make your client’s life easier by putting information right in front of their face, they will surely be thankful for it.
Safety, of course is always the first concern. Now, if you have time, is a great time to contact your local colleagues and/or former, current and future clients to ensure that they are staying safe during the hurricane. Because planning is a people business, it’s vital to show YOUR people that you care!
After The Hurricane
If you can, giving customers the option of a finance plan will definitely help to build trust between you and your clients. Before and after a hurricane, many people incur a lot of additional costs that they may not have budgeted for. Being patient and lenient on clients on when they pay or how they pay you is crucial at this time.
This also means that you should have an ‘emergency’ fund in place yourself for when times like this arise. As we all know, this should be at least 3 months of your normal income.
You should also check-in with your clients after the hurricane to see if they have suffered from any loss of power, flooding, damage, etc. It’s completely up to you and your relationship with them if you want to help in any way. However, it is important for people who you work with to know that you genuinely care about their well-being, outside of your business relationship.
Overall, it’s important to keep calm and be mindful during times like these. We cannot control Mother Nature, but we can control how we prepare before a hurricane hits and how we adjust after. It’s important to not make your clients feel pressured in any way while they may be struggling with issues because of the hurricane. Practice empathy and communicate with your clients. After all, that’s what we do this for in the first place, right?