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How A Hurricane (or any natural disaster) Can Impact Business Credit

Updated: Feb 3


Natural disasters (hurricanes, floods, tornadoes, etc) have become all too frequent around us, no matter what part of the country you are in. So I thought I would repeat the information I've previously provided on this subject for those who have been impacted by a natural disaster and could soon after face another potentially catastrophic loss: their corporate credit scores.

History has proven that businesses can be dramatically impacted by factors that are far outside their control. Natural disasters can play a huge role in a company's credibility. That's why, when generating scores and ratings based upon the amount of risk your business can sustain, D&B looks at 75 factors that impact your financial strength, longevity and credibility.

But D&B's credit risk analysis can sometimes be equally devastating. We've seen it happen after the BP oil spill in the Gulf, after Hurricane Sandy hit the Jersey shore, after earthquakes, fires, and other natural disasters. And it is certain to happen again after the most recent catastrophe moves on and eventually dissipates...

You see, D&B has been rating businesses for 180 years. They know from experience that businesses that lie within the zone of impact are going to face struggles that businesses just 100 miles away may not.

At some point soon, D&B is going to place a notation into the corporate credit report of every business located in the impact zone to let their suppliers and creditors know that this businesses may now be at a higher risk of failure. And they are going to do that for every business, even those that escaped a direct hit.

They do this because they know this tragedy is going to reach far beyond the building's brick or wood façade. Employees may not be able to come to work, supply lines may be cut for months, current inventory may be compromised, and utilities may not be operational for weeks.

But D&B also knows that other businesses, some located thousands of miles away or around the globe, could also be dramatically affected, simply because they rely on these corporate communities in order to run their own businesses — whether that's infrastructure, staffing, individual employees, supply lines, transportation, or business systems.

Yes, this means a hurricane in Texas can actually affect your scores and ratings even if your business is in New York or North Dakota.

For example, let's say you are manufacturing cars for Toyota in Kentucky. If the only company that provides your Toyota factory with a specific wiring harness is under water in Houston, you may have a hard time meeting production demands. D&B knows that supplier is your parts provider because they report on your payment history. Are your product deliveries now going to be delayed? Are you now going to have to find another supplier?

If you are a janitorial service in California who only buys cleaning chemicals from a supplier in Tampa Bay, where will you now find the products you need to run your business? Of course, you can probably find your supplies elsewhere, but if the only supplier that reports to your D&B file just lost their only facility, it's possible your business will falter under the loss of your only supplier.

During the Gulf oil spill, D&B downgraded risk scores for a broad swath of businesses, not just along the Gulf Coast (and beyond the obvious oil & gas industries) but also all across America and around the world. This included the shrimp and fishing industries, hotels and resorts, Mom and Pop souvenir shops, trucking and shipping companies, employment and staffing agencies, environmental services, and everything in between. While the Hurricane Sandy disaster impacted thousands of businesses and billions of dollars were lost, far more businesses were negatively affected by D&B's sudden downgrade of their credit ratings and financial stress scores.

It's a given... Everyone knows your business will be struggling, but D&B could become a multiplier of those struggles, and one that many smaller businesses could not survive.

At times like this, it is even more important that every business owner pay closer attention to their company's corporate credit scores and ratings, and be ready to jump in immediately if you see any unwarranted downgrade to your credit worthiness.

We are all sympathetic to the losses being faced by our neighbors, friends, and family members during a natural disaster. It could be weeks or months before those businesses can meet the day-to-day needs of their staff and customers.

But right now, they don't need sympathy. They need support. They need your business to be functional, strong and capable to weather this storm.

If your business (or your supplier) lies within an impact zone, please reach out to me directly for a free consultation and specific advice you can use to safeguard your D&B credit scores and ratings.

CLICK HERE to schedule a free one-on-one consultation or reach out if there is anything we can do to be of assistance.


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