Hell and high water (Proceedings)


Hell and high water (Proceedings)

Aug 01, 2010

This presentation concerns the survival and subsequent recovery of a small feline veterinary practice from two events, either of which could have easily shuttered this business. The first event was a devastating fire set by an arsonist which not only resulted in the loss of animal life but which also rendered the business a total loss. The second event was Hurricane Katrina, which literally and functionally destroyed New Orleans and its business environment for months.

The Cat Practice is located in an historic area of New Orleans. On the morning of August 30, 2002 (Labor Day Weekend), an arsonist ignited a blaze in the middle of the block in which The Cat Practice was located. The resultant blaze rendered the entire municipal block a total loss, including The Cat Practice, which is located at the end of the block. This presentation will discuss the financial losses to this practice from the fire, the psychological toll associated with this event, and insurance considerations concerning a loss of this magnitude. Short and long term business recovery goals as well as marketing strategies to insure continuation of business will be presented. Aspects of the road to recovery will be highlighted and discussed. The important lesson was that strong leadership is needed to make difficult decisions and to guide traumatized staff –members through such a difficult event. The toll a tragedy of this magnitude takes on the owner/manager is such that help should be solicited to insure proper decision making in a time of great personal loss. This event was considered a microeconomic loss.

Hurricane Katrina was a tragedy of a different type. A more macroeconomic event caused by flooding which enveloped and destroyed an entire region, the damage to The Cat Practice wrought by the storm was incurred by the collapse of the structure of an entire community. From a citywide lack of civil and social services, to lack of security, to a paucity of housing and transportation, to a lack of population, to an environment fraught with despair and uncertainty, , Katrina rendered the ability to conduct business in New Orleans a very difficult proposition. Although the physical damage and subsequent looting to The Cat Practice was enough to hamper the ability to provide certain veterinary services, the real damage was in the inability to properly function in a community suddenly handicapped by no infrastructure support and lack of population. This presentation describes the steps taken by this veterinary business to survive and eventually recover from the storm.