Research shows that the extent to which a business’ customers are affected is a major factor in whether or not that business continues to be successful after a disaster. This is true even if the business itself is not damaged in the disaster.

If your customers are concentrated in one geographic area, the impact to your business is likely to be higher. If that geographic area has a high rental rate, more people are likely to move out after a disaster.

Consider what the answers to these questions will be following a disaster:

  • Do customers need your product or service right now?

  • Can they afford it right now?

  • Have your customers moved out? If so, who has moved in? Are their needs the same as your former customers?

  • How has your neighborhood changed?

  • How is it likely to change? (Changes that were happening slowly before a disaster are likely to continue at a higher speed after the disaster)

  • Did customers suffer losses?

  • If my business has been damaged, are they buying elsewhere?

  • Can customers still get to your business (in person or electronically) to do business?

Look at available substitutes for your products or services. If customers can’t wait for you to get back up and running, can they find what they need elsewhere? Can they replace it with something else? The answers to those questions will give you a good idea what your customer base will be like after a disaster.

Focus on your organization’s strengths. Do you have a unique product or service? Do you provide excellent customer service? Is your business easy to access? Highlight these things after a disaster. Find ways that your strengths play into the needs of your customers after a disaster.