After any catastrophe, the need for records management and storage soars. Its only human nature to avoid the reality of loss until it actually happens. But now hundreds if not thousands of businesses in the Gulf South will no longer exist because of lack of attention to business records. On the positive side, this is an opportunity for records-storage providers to grow their enterprises.
Katrina and Rita, Sisters of Destruction
As I sit in my office waiting for the second hurricane in less than a month to hit the nearby city of New Orleans, I hear story after story about doctors, lawyers and others who have lost their businesses because of failure to protect their records from disaster. Those in the commercial records-management industry know that people rarely think their documents are important until they actually need them. But in this era of potential catastrophe, we have much to consider.
No one wants to take advantage of a devastating situation by causing additional pain or unscrupulously profiting from others loss. But we now face circumstances that will lead business owners to make good decisions, ones that will positively affect their own operations and those of records managers everywhere.
Leverage Tragedy for the Public Good
Records represent the memory of any business. They are critical to its well-being. How can records facilities help clients recognize the need for storage and disaster-avoidance services?
Provide information about effective records keeping and disaster-management practices.
There are many resources available from the Association of Records Managers and Administrators (www.arma.org), Professional Records and Information Services Management International (www.prismintl.org) and other related organizations.
Help clients and prospects identify potential problems.
Most business owners do not understand how to protect their records from damage during disasters. As a records expert, you can provide them with a Client Needs Assessment (CNA) that identifies troubles before they occur. A CNA is simply a discovery process that uses a questionnaire, interview and walk-about to uncover potential problems. CNA methods are available through several sales-training resources.
Provide a lending library of books and videos.
As part of your professional development in records management, collect materials that can be valuable to employees and clients regarding records-keeping practices.
Provide a regular information exchange for clients and prospects.
Host a luncheon twice a year during which you share information about sound records keeping and disaster management. Become an education leader in your community, a resource on which people can rely.
Become a recognized source for records-related connections in your community.
Records management is a science, and professionals in your area can be called upon as resources for specific expertise. Identify these individuals and partner with them. Become the one-stop records shop.
Immediately after a disaster is the best time to begin a project like this. It will add to your own credibility and enhance your professionalism in the marketplace. The results will also add prospects to your sales portfolio.
Cary F. McGovern is the principal of FileMan Records Management, which offers full-service assistance for commercial records-storage startups and sales training in commercial records-management operations. For help with feasibility determination, operational implementation or marketing support, call 877.FILEMAN; e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org; visit www.fileman.com.