Your Pie talks hurricane recovery after this year's 1-2 punch

| by S.A. Whitehead
Your Pie talks hurricane recovery after this year's 1-2 punch

Many brands in the mid-south and southeast U.S. are dealing with the devastation left behind by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma. Your Pie, based in Athens Georgia, is certainly no exception. But the CEO of the 48-location chain, Bucky Cook said planning for natural disasters can be extremely difficult.

"Natural disasters make a time-line virtually impossible to lay out," Cook told Pizza Marketplace. "As with Houston, it is usually a couple of days before we really know the extent scope of the damage to our physical property.  

"In the most current situation (Irma), we really had no direct damage, but obviously a meaningful business interruption. In other situations, where we did experience damage, the extent/scope of the damage will dictate when we can realistically effect repairs. Add to this the uncertainty of the availability of contractors and it's difficult if not impossible to set forth a 'standard' time line for clean-up, etcetera."

"Every situation is unique so there is little way to actually plan. Rather the 'plan' is to react as the situation evolves."  

                                                       -Your Pie CEO Bucky Cook


Cook, however, did say that both rehabilitation and reconstruction of facilities tend to follow patterns similar to those for building new stores, with common steps in the process. As a result, he said brand leadership and managers are familiar with the general progression of reconstruction processes following storms. However, hurricanes and similar natural disasters also come with their own unique challenges, each different from the last.  

"Every situation is unique so there is little way to actually plan," said Cook, who could not comment on the specific number of Your Pie stores hit by the storms. "Rather the 'plan' is to react as the situation evolves."

And then there are the often substantial costs associated with damages and downtime after hurricanes and other natural disasters. Planning for those — at least in the case of this pizza brand — is largely taken care of through careful insurance choices, including those for unexpected business closures caused by hurricanes. 

Naturally — as anyone who has ever filed an insurance claim can attest — there are loads of exclusions for just about any presumed insured incident, which may limit or altogether preclude payment for damages incurred. Cook said that may end up affecting insurance payments on some of the latest hurricanes' damages, particularly in and around Houston, where Harvey took such a substantial toll. 

"Most natural disasters are covered by the insurance required to be carried by all of our stores," Cook said. "The key is the 'proximate cause of the damage.' Typical property insurance covers 'all risks,' subject to exclusions, and included, but … not limited to, fire, windstorm, etcetera.  

"Houston is a bit unique as there was no windstorm damage to speak of. Rather flood waters — typically not covered by standard property insurance policies." 

Cook said corporate staff work with franchisees of the brand and their insurance carriers to keep overall time closed to the bare minimum. That, along with business interruption coverage carried by most business owners, is thought out well ahead of time to reduce the number of unexpected hits to the brand's overall bottom line. 


Photo: iStock

Topics: Business Strategy and Profitability, Customer Service / Experience, Financial Management, Insurance / Risk Management, Operations Management

Companies: Your Pie

S.A. Whitehead

Award-winning veteran print and broadcast journalist, Shelly Whitehead, has spent most of the last 30 years reporting for TV and newspapers, including the former Kentucky and Cincinnati Post and a number of network news affiliates nationally. She brings her cumulative experience as a multimedia storyteller and video producer to the web-based pages of and after a lifelong “love affair” with reporting the stories behind the businesses that make our world go ‘round. Ms. Whitehead is driven to find and share news of the many professional passions people take to work with them every day in the pizza and quick-service restaurant industry. She is particularly interested in the growing role of sustainable agriculture and nutrition in food service worldwide and is always ready to move on great story ideas and news tips.

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