News of the polar vortex and its current condition has been circulating over the past several weeks along with forecasts for a potentially colder, snowier and icier winter than normal.
With the increased likelihood that weather will cause disruption to our lives and businesses, we are reminded of the importance of regularly reviewing our disaster preparedness plans.
After all, disasters can come at any time and for any reason. And unlike polar vortex caused storms, they aren’t always predictable. Your pharmacy business could be impacted not just by weather and other natural disasters but illness or human error.
Having a plan in place for the expected and unexpected is important for the success of your pharmacy business.
Here are some resources and steps for contingency planning and disaster preparedness in your pharmacy.
- Identify all the moving parts and get a contingency plan in place. And who better to help than compliance expert Becky Templeton from RJ Hedges and Associates? Watch this 20 minute segment from our October CLIMB Webinar where Becky talks about contingency planning and what steps pharmacy owners can take proactively. There’s also a great contingency planning worksheet available for download.
- Prepare options for business operations with limited resources.
- Know where the keys to your cash drawers are. Most cash drawers are receipt printer driven. If the power goes out, you’ll have no way to open the cash drawer without the keys. Double check to make sure you have working keys to all of your cash drawers so that they can be manually opened as needed.
- Call your credit card processor to discuss emergency processing options. Your processor can provide you with phone numbers for each network’s voice authorization so that you can verify credit card transactions. This way, if the internet or power fails, you still have an option to process credit cards if needed.
- Invest in some basic transaction supplies. Solar or battery powered calculators and receipt books are a must for when the power goes out. It may seem old fashioned, but it may very well be the only way you’ll have to document sales and help clerks to stay accurate and accountable in the event you are running transactions without power. When the power comes back on, you’ll be able to run transactions through the POS to keep inventory and cash balancing accurate. You may also want to consider assigning each clerk with a specific drawer to work out of in case of shortages.
- Stock up on emergency supplies. Expecting the unexpected can help to keep your staff and customers safe. Having some solar or battery powered lanterns to light the store if the lights go out will help customers navigate aisles safely as you clear the pharmacy after an outage.
- Consider extra stock for best sellers and necessities. If you face a situation where deliveries can’t get through for a few days, will you have enough stock of your best-selling items to make it through? What about supplies that customers might need to purchase in an emergency? You don’t want to carry too much inventory, but take a look at your product movement reports to identify top sellers and make sure you stock enough to keep customers supplied.
- Take steps now to make coming back online easier
- Make sure all of your computers are on functioning battery backups. A good battery backup should give you about 10 minutes of continued use when the power goes down. However, this doesn’t mean that you should keep running transactions until the screen goes black. The battery backup should allow you to finish whatever transaction you are working on and then use the proper steps to safely shut down your PC. This will help you to avoid power surges that could damage your system.
- Run daily backups of your point-of-sale system.. Getting back to normal after an outage or disruption is just as important as being there to help your customers during emergency situations. However, you won’t be able to do this if you don’t have a good backup to help you recover from a system failure. The good news is backups are crazy-easy to set up. Just get a couple of USB flash drives and then contact RMS to have the automated backup set to run each night. Every day before you leave the store, swap the drives and take yesterday’s backup with you or place it in a fireproof/waterproof safe.
We’re here to help if you have any questions about preparing your pharmacy technology for any potential outage. Just give our 24×7 Support line a call!