Poor planning could cost agencies big dollars

Business continuity planning has never seemed more important as several agencies count the cost of natural disasters that have hit their communities.

Cunningham’s managing director John Cunningham, whose agency made the Top 50 Sales Offices ranking, said every serious agency needs to draw up a thorough business continuity plan – and then regularly review it.

In the event of an emergency, agencies need to be able to access their data, pay salaries and secure new premises, according to Mr Cunningham, who is also president of the Real Estate Association of NSW.

It comes as agencies in Western Australia and NSW are forced to confront serious blows to their sales and property management operations in the face of bushfires and floods.

Mr Cunningham told REB that his Sydney-based firm has uploaded an emergency manual, which is about 200 pages long, onto its intranet system so it can be accessed by all staff.

“We’ve got a policy and procedure for every possible thing we think could happen in our business, from a hold-up to a power outage,” he said.

“In terms of your requirements for work health and safety today, you’ve got to have those things in place. I’m concerned that a lot of people don’t.”

Mr Cunningham said that Cunningham’s reviews its business continuity plan each February, because information can quickly become outdated.

Ray White Maroochydore has also created a comprehensive risk management document, so staff aren’t forced to make tough decisions during times of crisis, according to director Dan Sowden.

“We itemise the list of risks we might encounter, and then beside that risk we rate both the likelihood on a scale out of 10 and the severity. Based on those two elements, we then write what our responses would be,” he said.

“For example, if our business manager who runs an apartment goes down for whatever reason without much warning, we’ve written down a list of processes to go through.”

Wagga Property Management director Dave Skow said his regional agency had a data protection plan in place from the moment it started trading in January 2014.

One element is that Wagga Property Management has put as much information in the cloud as possible – although there are some gaps as the agency’s CRM isn’t cloud-based.

As a result, the agency backs up its information every day with external hard drives that are stored off site, according to Mr Skow.

“So if the place burned down, we could start up with new computers at the drop of a hat,” he said.

[Related: Agent wins marketing award for ‘fire sale’ campaign]

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