Know When to Say When

Ever think, “I wish I would have known that a little earlier.”? It has been said over and over again – timing is everything! The clearest messages sent to the right audience mean nothing if they don’t go at the right time. Few times is this truer than before and after a hurricane.

If you live and work in the Southeast, you are very aware of hurricane season, especially in the construction industry. June 1 is circled on every calendar and the weather forecasters treat it almost like a holiday. But no one really pays any attention to the weather in the tropics until late July. Then suddenly everyone along the coast watches the forecasts in August and September. By late October, most breathe a sigh of relief and forget about hurricanes until the following summer.

But what about when there is a named storm and it looks like it’s headed your way? The questions start to buzz. Will it really head this way? What, if any, impact will it have on our sites? No one wants to create unnecessary work and stop progress on a project. Nor do they want to create panic among employees and contractors. It’s all about balance between preparation, common sense, and best practices. That’s where timing comes into play.

Planning plays a tremendous part in the timing of hurricane communications. By now, you should know who will send and who will receive the communications. You should also have a pretty solid idea of what you will say. To maximize the effectiveness of these communications, it all comes down to when. Ask the following questions to determine the best timing:

• How much time will it take to prepare the site(s) before the storm?
• When will contractors and employees take the messages seriously?
• When do preparations need to be complete?
• How many times do you need to communicate?
• How much notice do your employees/contractors/developers/partners need?

The answers to these questions will determine your hurricane communications timing. It leads to the identification of communications triggers – what needs to happen before a communication is sent. For example, a trigger could be the naming of a storm. Feel that’s jumping the gun? How about when a site or location is identified as being in the cone of concern? The number of days could act as another potential trigger. Maybe start communications five days before a storm is predicted to hit. Identify the triggers and the timing will fall into place.

Timing isn’t only about when to start and stop communicating. It’s also about cadence. How often should you communicate and how much time between the communications? It usually takes more than one communication to take care of everything. Reminders and follow-ups are helpful, but no one wants to be a nag. It will take some testing. Here are some solid rules to follow:

• Never more than once a day
• More frequently as the storm gets closer
• Give them time to complete the job and get to safety (employee safety is always top priority)
• Don’t communicate during the storm
• Stop when the job (cleanup) is complete

The goal of all hurricane communications is to make sure everyone is safe and has time to prepare for the storm. Once the prep work is complete, it’s time to fall silent for awhile and wait for the storm to pass. Once the coast is clear, you can resume communications. Once cleanup is complete, hurricane communications stop. Check the results and determine if the timing worked and adjust as needed.

Hurricanes are fickle and don’t always fall into a nice pattern or time frame. Some stall – think Dorian over the Bahamas in 2019. Some take forever to get there – think Irma in 2017. And some speed up and intensify without almost any warning – think Michael in 2018. Communications timing must be flexible to adjust to the uncertainty of hurricanes. If the timing wasn’t right this time, rest assured, another storm will be on its way. And you never know when and where they’re going to go.

For more information visit www.landsouth.com or call 904.273.6004

ABOUT LANDSOUTH CONSTRUCTION…Building Ideas

LandSouth Construction, the Southeast’s premier general contractor, specializing in multifamily, senior living, and mixed–use development, was named one of the nation’s Top 25 apartment builders by the National Multifamily Housing Council. Since 1998 LandSouth has transformed ideas into best–in–class communities through superior construction management and building long–term relationships. Headquartered in Jacksonville, Fla. LandSouth has completed more than 18,000 units including apartments, hotels, senior living, student and military housing, condominiums, townhomes, and mixed–use. For more information, please contact Erica Zumstein at 904.273.6004 ext. 109 | ezumstein@landsouth.com or visit www.landsouth.com