Located on South Wabash Avenue in Chicago, the 21-story Mallers Building on Jewelers Row houses more than 180 jewelry businesses that specialize in design, manufacturing and jewelry repair.
Shortly before 2 a.m. on April 25, 2018, a three-alarm fire broke out in the 107-year-old building, forcing these businesses to temporarily relocate. It’s been almost a full year since that devastating fire.
To honor the Chicago jewelry community and its resiliency, Jewelers Mutual gathered jewelers and industry members together to share advice and successes on how to keep moving forward after such an event.
A panel of loss prevention experts came together at the renovated Jewelers Center® featuring Jewelers Mutual experts, a loss prevention specialist, a jeweler and members of the Chicago Fire Department.
Panelists discussed ways jewelers should prepare for the unexpected – such as keeping proper inventory, making sure they have adequate coverage, using a safe or vault, creating an evacuation plan, and preparing a business continuity plan – in an effort to help jewelers feel more confident about their future safety.
Members of the panel discussed loss prevention tips and what to do during a crisis.
Here are a few key takeaways to reduce the risk of loss at your jewelry business:
Have a business continuity plan
The best time to establish a business continuity plan is BEFORE you need it. Set some time aside so that you and your employees are prepared for a crisis. Having a business continuity plan can help minimize business downtime and ensure you have the documentation needed for any insurance claims.
Not sure what to include in your plan? Consider these five questions:
- Do you have an alternate facility available?
- How will you handle repairs and replacement of destroyed inventory?
- What is your management succession plan?
- Who will make financial decisions, and how will you handle payroll?
- How will you communicate with customers and employees?
Once your plan is created, be sure to update it annually and share with your key employees.
Create an emergency and disaster plan
Do you have the appropriate plan in place in case of an emergency? Here are a few things to consider when preparing a plan:
- Have a phone alert system with neighboring jewelers to keep each other informed of developing trouble.
- Keep a list of emergency phone numbers and email addresses at your business and your home. The list should include contact information for employees, building owner/manager, insurance agent and vendors.
- Back up and encrypt your data to an external hard drive or the cloud. Keep copies of your records at an off-site location.
- Work with your local fire department to conduct regular fire drills and evacuation plans.
Visit Jewelers’ Security Alliance for more helpful tips on emergency and disaster planning.
Have the right insurance coverage
Don't assume you'll be covered for any peril that threatens your business just because you have insurance.
Some business owners find themselves paying extra out-of-pocket expenses after a claim is filed because they don't have well-rounded coverage or have improper limits.
Asking yourself questions like these can help make sure you're adequately covered if a disaster were to strike:
- Are my inventory figures up-to-date?
- Is my building and business personal property valued correctly?
- Could I be liable for damage to a neighbor's property, too?
- Will I be covered for any amount of lost earnings during the time when my business is closed due to the disaster?
The best way to make sure you're properly covered is to work with an agent that is an expert in jewelers block insurance. If you're not working with an agent representing Jewelers Mutual, it's time you looked into it.