If you’re a property manager, you have a lot on your mind, just dealing with the daily minutiae that never seem to let up. But you also have to think about the bigger challenges that lurk out there — natural disasters, terrorism and other emergencies, such as the loss of heat in the dead of winter, a gas leak or flooding. You can take some steps now to minimize the fallout for both you and your tenants.
It takes a Village
Don’t wait until an emergency strikes to think about how best to respond. Instead, identify and prioritize your risks now. This requires consulting with a variety of sources.
Start by talking to your tenants to discover any particular risks associated with their general operations. Check in on tenants on a regular basis so that you can stay on top of situational risks, such as the recent termination of a hotheaded employee or an employee who has taken out a protective order against another person.
Try to learn about the tenants and businesses in neighboring buildings, too — not just to identify potential risks but also to share information and coordinate emergency response if needed. Your insurer can provide valuable input, as well, based on its past experience with similar customers.
Finally, establish a relationship with your local first responders. Get their advice on how to prepare for emergencies and ask them to review your emergency response plans.
Game Plan It
Among other things, first responders can help you run through drills to assess how your plans would work in a real-life emergency. Ask them to attend regular meetings with your internal response team where staff is put in a position of making decisions and implementing plans under pressure. In addition to identifying gaps and failure points, doing so will help your team and the first responders get to know each other and familiarize responders with the building, which should make for a smoother response in an actual emergency.
Have tenants participate, both to educate them on their roles and to assure them that you’re on top of emergency planning. You might even want to involve vendors to determine whether they’d be able to provide the resources you need postemergency, such as repairs, cleanup and technological services. Make sure you have the necessary support lined up ahead of time, or you could be in for a long wait.
Prepare for the Worst
Maybe you’ve been lucky up to this point and have never experienced an emergency, but you can’t let your good fortune thus far lull you into complacency. Be sure to talk to your financial advisor — he or she can help identify and quantify risks, and make sure your insurance coverage is adequate. Think through your risks and plan accordingly — you owe it to yourself and your tenants.