By Linda Day Harrison, theBrokerList, Chicago, IL
If you are in the industry of caring for properties, leasing properties, or even selling properties, there is one tool you should never be caught without — the Emergency Calling List! It’s the one tool that does many things for anyone charged with caring for a property.
When you think about the word “emergency” it connotes visions of fires, floods, crime, etc. However, when you think of the words “crisis” or “disaster,” it sounds much more evil and sinister. The difference to me is that you can have an emergency, but if you are not prepared, it can quickly become a crisis or a disaster. There is a huge difference.
Being prepared, like Boy Scouts are always known to be good at, is an incredible skill. It takes thought, the ability to anticipate, and planning. On top of that, it does requiring testing from time to time and many “what if?” scenario considerations.
The first step to being prepared for any emergency, at the most basic level, is to start an emergency calling list. The list needs to be from the top down, and include all things you would need to know or people you can count on at 2 a.m. on Christmas Eve. Yes, can you reach these people at the worst possible time you can think of? How about 5:30 p.m. on a Monday night? Everyone is in rush hour driving home and all of the businesses you rely on are closed! That is what an emergency calling list can and should do for you.
Creating the emergency calling list is the first thing I do when I take on a new property. I create my emergency calling list before anything else is even considered. Why? Because I have been there and done that in my career, and extreme emergencies can hit when you least expect them.
The emergency calling list should start with the local and/or public authorities and work itself down through the chain of command, including vendors, neighbor properties, and key information you will most certainly need when you least expect it. The emergency list should contain phone numbers, email addresses, home phones, relative phones, cells, pagers, and whatever means necessary to reach individuals, as well as options if those fail. Just keep thinking, “What if this fails?” and “What if that fails?” If you keep thinking about “Plan B,” then “Plan C,” you are doing a great job in building your emergency calling list. Do not just accept a number for an office of a vendor either! Be sure you ask for the after-hours numbers! I have been there, done that. I know from years of practice that you must ask all vendors who are on your list what the procedure is for contacting their technicians on weekends and evenings.
Formatting an emergency calling list is something to consider as well. In my sample provided here, I have always kept my emergency calling list in alphabetical order by incident type, combined with sections for in-house personnel, public services, and neighbor properties. But this is just a sample! There are so many styles and layouts in how you create your form. The emergency calling list should be a daily event. Are there changes? Are people on vacation? Are there new vendors to add? New phone numbers? Et cetera. When you learn of a change, make it immediately! Do not procrastinate. Also, when you physically print the list, consider how many you need to print and distribute. How many do you need to hand out to your key personnel? Remember this is a tool and we must distribute physical lists, even with our high-tech world. One of the most severe emergencies you may experience may be loss of power. Without power there are no computers or Internet! Since we printed our emergency calling lists constantly, we simply added the number of copies next to each member of the team, and even that information was maintained on the emergency calling list. This would indicate next to each key contact name type how many to distribute physically. Yes, physically. Remember, if there is no power, all computers are down.
Once printed and distributed, think about where you want to maintain the physical lists. The emergency calling list needs to be maintained in several locations. Here are my locations:
- Car/trunk/glove compartment
- Briefcase/laptop bag
- Cell phone
In other words, I have physical, online versions and cell phone access to the data. If I am driving in traffic, I have one in my vehicle. For home use, I have a clipboard with a magnetic back that adheres to the side of my refrigerator. Believe it or not, it is the most often used list. Most emergencies happen after hours and in the late night hours. In other words, everywhere I go, I am prepared. It is such a relief when you receive an emergency call and you have your list at the ready. It can make the difference when you get your next emergency call and it helps to prevent any emergency from becoming a crisis or disaster. Why? Because you are prepared! Here is a blank sample form of what my most favorite type of emergency calling list looks like. Click here to check it out.
Do you and your team have the #1 most vital property tool ready? If not, stop now and get it done.