Planning for the worst

Make sure your clients aren’t left in the dark! Prepare a contingency plan.

Nearly a year ago, one of my clients died. COVID deaths impacted many of us across the world, but this client’s death was not COVID related but a complete shock. And a mystery.

I didn’t actually discover this client died until a month later. I looked in a special edition of our local newspaper that reprinted obituaries over a period of time. My mom brought it over to show me someone else and to share what a beautiful tribute she thought it was. I browsed through and saw my client. 

In my line of business, I work with clients online and in person. This particular client, I had emailed and received a response a few days prior to the tragic event. I was waiting to hear back, which often takes a bit of time. I never expected that I would never hear from that client again. And that client was my only contact to the business that I was managing projects on behalf of. What was I to do?

I was able to contact the family of that individual and have continued working with that business, but the entire situation made me really think about what would happen to my clients and my business if something happened to me.

As someone who has dealt with more death than anyone should in a lifetime, I can deal with the emotional side of death. The pain lingers and never goes away, but as a Sole Proprietor, LLC,  I worry about what will happen to my clients, to my contractors, to my business, and to my family. 

In the process of my move, I’ve also discovered that sh*t happens that business owners have to deal with. For me, technology was an issue. My farm is in between mountains, so I didn’t always have internet access. This past weekend, my new home state of Kentucky was ravaged by tornados that annihilated homes and businesses, killing many. 

So what do we (business owners) do in those instances?

Steps

Step 1: Designate someone (a VA or OBM) who can contact your clients as a representative for your business. This person should have a list of all of your clients and their contact information. 

Step 2: Designate someone outside of your immediate family to contact your person from step 1 as a family representative. This person (or these people) should have contact information for your business representative but should be close enough to the family member in step 3 that they would naturally be a person contacted.

Step 3: Designate someone in your immediate family to contact your person (or people) from step 2.

For my process, my son and/or my husband contact my son’s friend (my mentor) and/or my friend (and client) respectively. Those two contact my OBM who then contacts my clients. 

Situations

I consider three major unplanned situations that omit me from the process. 

  1. Internet/technical issues--my access is limited for a few days
  2. Natural disasters--my home/life+ is limited for a few days
  3. Illness or death--my body/mind+ is limited for a few days or more

No one wants these situations, and it’s difficult to think about and to prepare for them. Consider creating scripts for everyone to make the process easier and quicker. 

If you’re just not sure what to include, consider purchasing my Disaster Planning and Emergency Guide. For $10, you get a step-by-step, fillable pdf to complete, including scripts for everyone involved. You can even purchase one for your favorite business owner. 

Don’t leave clients in the dark. Prepare your emergency plan before it’s too late.

Categories: Tips & Tricks