Carol always says, “If you fail to prepare, prepare to fail.” In her recent post on the Nextiva blog, “How to Plan for and Manage Business Disasters,” she shares some ways a small business owners can plan for the unexpected. Carol begins:

“It’s almost impossible to get through life without seeing a few disaster movies, but you seldom see how those events affect everyday businesses and the customers that count on them. The disasters don’t even have to be as dramatic as hurricanes or earthquakes. Anything from construction delays caused by rain to missed deadlines due to a workforce minimized by a bout of the flu can have a devastating effect on customer attitudes. Customers are not unfeeling monsters, but their needs can outweigh their compassion.

 Unless your business is totally devastated in a “Sharknado” attack (which might be covered in Sharknado 5), you can generally keep your customers happy… as long as you manage their projects thoughtfully and demonstrate your willingness to go the extra mile—or thousand miles. Here are four strategies that can help save your customers and your business.

1. Plan for “Plan B”

 Do you know what you will do if a rare Measles outbreak shuts down your medical office for several weeks? Do you have ways to ship products when a wildfire shuts down your distribution facility? People may tell you that planning for the worst is pessimistic. But, the “P” word changes to proactive when a backup plan saves your customers.

 Every small business should have backup plans in place to prepare for natural disasters. If you don’t feel prepared for any of the biggies, check out my recent blog on the subject. But, customers often have unique concerns, as well. Whether you’re planning a special consulting project, or even if one or two customers count on you to have certain products in stock even everything in your warehouse blows to Oz in a tornado, Plan B can be a huge lifesaver.

 When planning anything from daily operations to a custom project, always spend time on “what-if?” List everything that can possibly go wrong and figure out how you will address it. Maybe key project team members can continue working from home or a temporary office while waiting for flood waters to drain from the main office. You might even arrange to team up with other vendors outside of the disaster area to help meet an emergency customer order. Whatever you do, your customers will be relieved and happy to know that you are dedicated to meeting their needs no matter what tragedy ensues.

2. Communicate quickly

 Nobody enjoys delivering- or receiving- bad news, but you have a Plan B, so the news is not as bad as it could be. On the one hand, you know that you’re not going to meet your exact deadline. On the other hand, your customer may have padded a few days in the deadline.

 Don’t wait for customers to call you. Do whatever it takes to make the call first. Be prepared to tell them that you have plans in place to make sure that they get their products or services, preferably within a few days of the original deadline.”

You can read the rest of the post here.