October 5, 2017

MBAF's Wolfgang Pinther discusses the results of the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce and MBAF's Hurricane Irma Business Recovery survey with Miami Today.

A survey of CEOs, presidents, owners and decision makers has unveiled their conclusions about how the aftermath of Hurricane Irma is affecting Miami’s business community, with nearly two in five expecting negative consequences to linger for at least a year.

The survey by the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce and the MBAF accounting firm found an impressive 76% if respondents had a disaster plan before the storm hit; 99% of them said the plan was very or somewhat effective.

That may be the reason most respondents (69%) said the hurricane will have a negative effect on their businesses only over the next three months. Only 39% said they expected the negative consequences to continue for a year.

Less reassuring was the finding that “32% of business leaders are less optimistic about the health of their business, compared to before Hurricane Irma,” the survey said. A few months ago, when the chamber and MBAF produced an executive summary of their early survey, 77% of respondents were optimistic, said Wolfgang Pinther, MBAF director of marketing. The abrupt drop “is kind of scary for our community,” he said.

However, respondents have witnessed a series of disasters – hurricanes Harvey, Irma and then Maria – in short order, he added. “We’ve seen one tragedy after another.”

More than half (57%) said they are neither more nor less optimistic about the health of their business since Hurricane Irma. Surprisingly, 31% of business said that the storm “would increase their marketing opportunities,” the survey said.

“I do understand that,” Mr. Pinther said. “We were able to put out more content to our clients and contacts. It did increase our marketing opportunities.”

Perhaps because of widespread power outages, 88% of respondents found calls and texts the most effective way of communicating, followed by business emails (82%) and personal emails (60%).

Most respondents (81%) said the storm would have no impact from a hiring standpoint over the year, while 16% said the storm would force them to decrease full-time staff. From a budget standpoint, 52% said the storm would affect them; 23% of respondents would decrease their budgets, 15% would be forced to reallocate and 14% would be forced to increase their budgets, the survey said.

Some of respondents’ comments:

  • As many of our clients’ offices were not open for over a week, they have fallen way behind in their payments, which has a serious effect on cash flow.
  • Projects delayed or cancelled. Clients with no money.
  • Short-term reduction in staff productivity due to disruptions caused by power outages and downed trees.
  • Clients stopped calling.
  • Loss of revenue due to office closure for almost two weeks.
  • Loss of new business due to cancellations of appointments with new clients.
  • We will have much more properties to inspect, clean up and maintain.
  • No significant impact other than lost time.
  • Employee stress.
  • Better planning and lessons learned for the next catastrophic event.

Surveys were distributed to more than 5,000 email address in the chamber’s and MBAF’s proprietary databases. There were 109 responses.