What embodies risk within your real estate portfolio?  Is it the damage that could be caused by water, mold, wind, rain, or aging?   Is it a slip, a trip, or a fall?   Is it a prolonged elevator entrapment; a disgruntled tenant employee who acts out; a media blitz on your building, or a public demonstration?  Is it the failure to have valid insurance protection in place through your tenants and vendors?   Risk transforms to damage and costly repairs or claims.  Litigation is costly, both from an insurance and time perspective.

Hedge the amount of risk you take by taking the proper steps to be prepared

Do not wait to react.  Be proactive and follow these ten simple best practice points for risk reduction and preparedness.

1.      Assemble a Response Team:  Make sure that you have ownership and management representation on that team.  It should include some risk and liability expertise and remember to think outside of the building – e.g. the Government is a critical part of your team, as are fire, police and the local Department of Health.

2.      Outline Key Risks in Advance:   Remember that threat levels are unique to each building.  Think through what might happen to your building before it happens.  Get experts involved to help you see what you cannot.  Look at historic data to help your recognize likely events and insure your greatest areas of risk.

3.      Create A Response Plan: Write it down and publish it to those that should know. Match your risk to your response team.  Train backup employees to perform emergency tasks.  Create a business continuity plan – Make sure you tenants have a continuity plan.  Determine offsite crisis meeting places.  Test your plan to reveal and accommodate changes

4.      Run simulations:  Make sure that all employees-as well as executives-are involved in the exercises.   Practice crisis communication (employees, customers and the outside world).  Invest in an alternate means of communication.  Form partnerships with local emergency response groups.  Evaluate your performance – Continuity exercises should reveal weaknesses.

5.      Focus on Responsiveness:  Most claims result from failed responsiveness.  Put the right assets in place so that you can respond quickly.   Redundancy is key to reliability and response.  Immediate response enables real time advice, real time reaction and injury or damage mitigation.

6.      Capture all Relevant Data:  Data and information is your best defense.  Only with data can you make informed decisions.  Train you teams to identify incidents and record them.  Keep Data up-to-date and available.  Make it accessible from anywhere so that you can retrieve it quickly when needed.

7.      Leverage Technology:  Responsiveness relies on information and speed.   Redundant systems prevent data gathering and communications failure.  Establish preset response protocols for every situation.  Build your Response Team and your Response Plan into the technology.  Keep contact information up to date.  Go mobile while leveraging multiple communications points.

8.      Train Your Team and Analyze Your Response: Three rules of Team Preparedness = Practice, Practice, Practice.  Do a post mortem analysis of every incident.  Look for trends and opportunities.  Adjust your Response Team and Plan to fit the building risk profile.

9.      Involve Local Teams and Authorities: Police, Fire, DHS and DHLS are key partners in any response.  Relationships are critical to responsiveness.  Imagine calling your local Fire Department and the Chief knows who you are. Know your neighbors so that they know you.  Have regular meetings with Response Teams in adjacent buildings.

10.  Keep it current: Take your partners, colleagues and neighbors to lunch once a year. Review your plan annually. Practice regularly.  Never stop testing or improving your plans, practices and procedures and the technologies that support them.