Running a successful convenience store network is all about being organized and prepared for anything. But what happens when something comes your way that no one is able to prepare for? That’s the situation operator Applegreen found themselves in when Hurricane Michael made landfall in October 2018, unleashing unprecedented damage on their Florida coast locations.
Fortunately, they had a contract in place with Loomis, which included robust smart safe technology deployed in their stores and a business continuity plan (BCP) ready to activate in the event of an emergency or major disruption.
We chatted with Carl Saviers, Head of Operations for Applegreen’s Florida Division, and Michael Smith, Area Branch Manager for Loomis in Pensacola, for a detailed firsthand account of the experience.
One step at a time
For Applegreen, a business disruption of this magnitude was unprecedented. Having the support of the Loomis team in the recovery phase was a gamechanger for their business. And with five stores completely destroyed, and many more severely damaged, the task ahead was not a small one.
“There was a lot of disruption to service, a lot of utility issues,” Saviers recalls, “which meant without electricity it was hard to get into the safes for the stores that we could actually access. Loomis came with battery-powered equipment to our stores that were heavily damaged, and worked diligently to get to the safes, open them, and secure the finances.”
For the Loomis team, this certainly wasn’t the first Level 3 disruption they had encountered, but Hurricane Michael was not without its unique challenges.
“We’ve learned something from every natural disaster that we’ve gone through, and honed our plan to be a little sharper,” Smith says. “The challenge with Hurricane Michael is that, although it was a smaller destructive path than Hurricanes Katrina and Ivan, it was extremely devastating to this particular area.”
Being able to mobilize a team to secure Applegreen’s destroyed and damaged store locations and work to get them back online was crucial in the hours after the storm dissipated. By corroborating gathered weather data with communications data from their corporate SafePoint® support division in Houston, Loomis could target and prioritize which of Applegreen’s store locations were in the most distress and needed on-site support.
“Within 36 hours after the storm passed,” Smith recalls, “we put a team in the area that was prepared to extract deposits and recover liability from the customer. It took a high degree of precision planning along with Applegreen so that we could gain access to these facilities and secure those deposits for our customer.”
Despite all the limitations of working in a highly damaged area, the two teams managed to maintain open communication throughout the recovery process.
“Communication was key,” Saviers adds. “The recovery phase took a lot of team effort, and Loomis did a nice job communicating where we could with limited resources. We were able to contact Loomis and set up dates and times to get into the stores, so that was one area we didn’t have to worry about.”
The bigger picture
While events like a major hurricane are few and far between, day-to-day business operations require constant attention. Having an integrated cash management solution like Loomis SafePoint® ensures a completely closed-loop system for all aspects of a store’s cash-handling needs. And besides improving accuracy and efficiency, a professional cash management solution also drastically reduces risk to employees and risk of cash loss or theft.
“The safety aspect for my managers has been a huge benefit,” Saviers says. “Ensuring the security of the managers as opposed to what would happen if Loomis wasn’t involved in retrieving deposits from the safe, securing the cash, and taking it to the bank makes all the difference. In today’s world, you can never be too safe. Working with Loomis takes that worrying aspect away.”
About Loomis BCP
The Loomis BCP is a highly coordinated preparedness and resumption plan that features a comprehensive incident command and emergency response structure supported by a suite of crisis management protocols. These protocols are deployed to protect Loomis employees and customer assets, provide active communication during the event across all available channels, and expedite post-event recovery efforts. Since protecting client assets is the hallmark of Loomis’ service lines, the BCP is a major internal focus. The BCP is updated on an annual basis based on input from all major operating organizations of the company.
About Loomis SafePoint
SafePoint® by Loomis is a completely end-to-end cash management solution consisting of smart safe and cash recycler hardware, proprietary software, cash pick-up and change order delivery, provisional credit, and online reporting. It combines cutting-edge technology with Loomis’ unmatched quality, service, and expertise, and is specially designed to cut costs, increase efficiency, and improve your bottom line.
Learn more at Loomis.us/SafePoint